Celebrating the arts through dance

(Center L-R) Blue Ribbon President Jill Baldauf, Nigel Lythgoe (OBE), and The Music Center President & CEO Rachel Moore are surrounded by some of the more than 18,000 fifth graders from throughout Los Angeles County who immersed themselves in the performing arts at the recent three day 47th Annual Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival, California’s longest continuing free arts education initiative, at the Los Angeles Music Center. Courtesy of The Music Center
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Four Santa Clarita Valley elementary schools experienced the magic of the Alvin Ailey II dance company at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion this week.

On Thursday and Friday, fifth grade students from Castaic Elementary, Live Oak Elementary, Plum Canyon Elementary and Dr. J. Michael McGrath Elementary joined fifth grade classes from across Los Angeles County to take part in the 47th annual Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival.

“The Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival is a shining example of The Music Center’s long-standing arts education programs and a testament to how the arts can inspire and transform the lives of young people,” said Rachel Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center in a press release.

Since its creation in 1970, the Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival has introduced more than 845,000 students to the performing arts at a young age.

This year, more than 18,000 fifth grade students from a total 252 schools participated in the three-day, free continuing arts initiative.

During the event, students watched a professional dance performance from Ailey II before performing their own three-minute dance piece, inspired by the “Rocka My Soul” finale section of Alvin Ailey’s piece “Revelations,” on the Music Center Plaza.

“Alvin Ailey was an American cultural pioneer and dance genius with an absolute passion to bring the vibrancy of modern dance to as many people as possible,” said Blue Ribbon President Jill Baldauf in a press release.  “The Blue Ribbon shares that passion, and we are delighted to share this experience with the children of Los Angeles.”

4: Students dancing to a choreographed piece inspired by the “Rocka My Soul” finale of Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations.” Courtesy of The Music Center

Prior to attending the event, the fifth grade classes received standards-based curriculum materials and choreography instructions from The Music Center’s Tara Cook Davis and Susan Cambigue.

Students also studied the roots and evolution of Jazz, Blues, modern rock, classical and dance, in addition to learning about audience etiquette and dance history and terminology.

“It is our pleasure to host 18,000 fifth graders at The Music Center to experience a performance of Ailey II and the celebratory dance on the Plaza following the show,” Baldauf said.  “We know exposure to the arts is so important to a child’s education and development.”

The fifth graders were also surprised with a guest appearance from Nigel Lythgoe, producer and host of “So You Think You Can Dance” and producer of “American Idol,” who shared the importance of dance, music and the arts.

Before returning to their schools, students received a keepsake book “A Journey though The Music Center” which described The Music Center’s four theaters and aspects of live performance.

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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