LOS ANGELES - The Luckman Fine Arts Complex at California State University, Los Angeles will present a very special evening celebrating arts and education on Monday, June 19, through the Luckman COLTA program (Creating Opportunities for Learning through the Arts). The evening will feature approximately 40 third graders from Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School in East Los Angeles, who will present a dance routine Â¾ 5, 6, 7, 8... Rhythm You'll Appreciate! Â¾ developed in weekly workshops by Carole Valleskey, Luckman Director of Education and Outreach. The public is invited to attend this free event, which will begin at 6:00 p.m.
The "cabaret-style" evening promises entertainment for adults as well as kids, with a sampling of various dance styles and music. Guest artists slated to join the student performers include former Joffrey Ballet principal dancer Beatriz Rodriguez; former Alvin Ailey principal dancer Hector Mercado; vocalist Karen Benjamin with husband Alan Chapman, host of the "Morning Show" at KUSC-FM (91.5); Inland Pacific Ballet; and Grammy-nominated artist Bobby Rodriguez.
The June 19 performance is the culmination of a 6-month pilot dance residency program developed as part of the COLTA education and outreach mission. Valleskey, a former dancer with the Joffrey Ballet for 15 years, modeled it after Jacques d'Amboise's National Dance Institute in New York and hopes to expand the L.A.-based program into more schools next year. Funding has been provided thus far by Edison International and the Rose Hills Foundation.
According to Valleskey, "The purpose of this aspect of the Luckman COLTA program is to allow students hands-on exposure to the arts, and to explore a particular art form in depth Â¾ in this case, dance." Valleskey believes that this type of workshop, especially with a culminating performance, provides a broad range of benefits. "The kids learn focus and discipline that can be applied to any area that they want to succeed in, all coupled with the unique enjoyment the arts have to offer. I'm continually amazed at their enthusiasm and willingness to work hard. My main concern now is to make sure they have an audience."
The two third grade classes at Kennedy elementary school that have participated in the pilot are taught by Ethel Bojorquez and Gerardo LÃ³pez. "I can't say enough about the program!" enthuses Bojorquez. "It's not only a dance-movement situation. My students write about it. It has enhanced their language arts and listening skills. They are mostly bilingual, and their English skills have increased. It trickles down into every aspect of their studies." LÃ³pez explains that the program also introduces the students to the University. "The kids are getting an awareness of higher education in addition to all the other benefits this program has to offer. It's actually forming a partnership between the Cal State L.A. community and our school community. They love coming on campus."
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