A workshop at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School dared students to dance, drum and dream.
Teacher Erica Battaglia invited Troy Sexton to visit her dance class on March 7th to explore elements of dance with her students and to share with them his personal story of struggle and success. Sexton is the founder of Rhythm Works, rehearsal director & lead performer of STOMP, and member of Blue Print for Life, an award-winning social outreach group providing hip hop culture opportunities for schools and youth correction facilities.
“Troy helped the students explore the dance elements of Time and Body through large group and partner activities,” said Battaglia. She added students were shown how to use their bodies as instruments to create movement and body percussion while dancing to musical rhythms.
The students also participated in a choreographed dance and interactive bucket drumming session.
The room had “great energy,” said Sexton. “The students picked up all the steps and made a ton of noise, which is what we were going for.”
The benefits of the workshop extended beyond the curriculum, noted Battaglia.
“The adolescent years can be a tricky time, where students are encountering a lot of varying emotions and changes in their life all the while finding their identity.”
She said a post-dance talk in which Sexton spoke of turning his struggles into success helped the students understand “the importance of finding a positive outlet such as dance to deal with stress and adversity.” Sexton encouraged students to use their teenage years to find their passion, and use this passion to develop a life that they loved.
His words resonated with the students. Said Grade 11 dance student, Alyssa Cooke: “I thought that he was motivational, since so many people think that you’re not able to go far with the arts. But seeing Troy, and how talented and happy he is doing what he loves, his job is clearly worth it.”
Grade 10 dance student Elizabeth Grundy described the experience as “great.”
“I learned a lot about how easy it can be to relieve our stresses. I also learned how lucky we are to have something like dance to do that for us.”
The message was loud and clear, said Battaglia: “Life will have its challenges, but what’s important is the way we deal with these challenges. It’s important, especially in the teenage years, to develop positive coping mechanisms.”
“Today, students were able to use their love of dance to truly experience what this means.”
She said her students not only had fun, but were relieved of stress, and more motivated and confident than ever before.
“As an educator, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”