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Sierra Nevada Ballet Outreach

IMG_0421Sierra Nevada Ballet is honored to welcome Barbara Land to the SNB Family as the Education Outreach Director. This newly created position is a direct response to the overwhelming need our community has in developing healthy futures for all Northern Nevadans.

Barbara Land is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was the founding director of the University of Nevada, Reno dance program since 1986. She is internationally known for her writings on dance in culture and history, dancers’ wellness and injury prevention. She is the recipient of the State of Nevada Governor’s Arts Award in Dance, and the Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Nevada, Reno College of Liberal Arts. She holds both a Teaching Certificate and Diploma from the Royal Academy of Dancing, London England.

Under her leadership, Sierra Nevada Ballet has affiliated with Z Body Fitness Foundation, a nonprofit foundation created to provide free-of-charge movement programs and workshops in Northern Nevada. The Z Body Fitness Foundation programs are strategies for achieving life-long levels of physical fitness. By offering free-of-charge fitness classes the Z Body Fitness Foundation services adult and children of socio-cultural needs, adult and children with mild physical disabilities, and a younger generation of Nevadans.

To arrange for an educational opportunity in your area please contact Barbara

Recently in the News: Sierra Nevada Ballet's Outreach from Picollo to Peru

When Sierra Nevada Ballet Educational Outreach Director Barbara Land shared that SNB would be expanding the outreach program, I had no idea how far out she meant for this program to reach. Land has arranged with the cultural minister of Peru to have SNB work with the UNCP (Universidad Cientifica del Perú) in setting a new ballet based on celebrating the environment of the Amazon River in Peru. This ballet, “Amazonia,” shall be created by the SNB company and then be performed in Nevada by SNB in Brew, Brats and Ballet (scheduled for May 2016) and then later in Peru by the UNCP dancers.

“I am very excited to bring the art of ballet to the Amazon jungle through the SNB Educational Outreach Program,” Land says. “Many of the inhabitants of the area have an interest in learning ballet, but the city of Iquitos is an island cut off from the rest of the world without much exposure to the arts. SNB has given them hope and the ability to pursue their dream of studying of ballet.”

In the past there were no ballet teachers and no dance shoes available in Iquitos. Land established the first ballet teacher training course and choreographed the first Iquitos “Nutcracker” in December 2015. Judy’s Dance Shoppe in Reno donated 70 pairs of shoes to this SNB project. This enabled dancers in Iquitos to have pointe shoes as well as character shoes to perform the traditional folk dances of their area.

In addition to the far-reaching Amazon program, SNB has several local outreach programs in place. As of September 2015, SNB, in collaboration with the Z Body Fitness Foundation, designed a dance fitness program for children in foster care, providing them a free weekly dance class and free dance clothing and shoes. Land tells us that this program brings her great personal satisfaction. “By working in the foster care system, SNB brings a weekly hour of joy to children who have often been neglected. Dance allows the students to express themselves while helping them to be physically fit. This program would not have been possible were it not for the combined efforts of Sierra Nevada Ballet and the Z Body Fitness Foundation.”

SNB also provides a free weekly dance class for the Children’s Cabinet and free in-house performances for students of the Marvin Picollo Elementary School who are unable to travel to attend arts events for medical reasons. Land also plans to expand the SNB outreach program in 2016 to include in-house performances for veterans and seniors. In addition, she and Nicholas Martin Kearney, SNB’s marketing director, plan to start a new SNB “Dancing In The Schools” Program to promote a strong STEAM education in the public schools in Northern Nevada.

The 2016 SNB program expansion requires a larger trained teaching staff. With that in mind, I shall work with Kearney and Land to create a curriculum for a new SNB teacher training pilot program. This program is Kearney’s brainchild. “We are excited to roll out this new workforce development initiative. The Sierra Nevada Ballet teacher training pilot program enables us to provide an economic incentive for locally trained dance artists to pursue the ballet profession right here in the Truckee Meadows. The teaching artist who can conduct STEAM-focused, arts-integrated lessons will add another valuable skill to his or her resume. The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ushered in a new era for arts education with provisions for arts education professional development funding and the inclusion of the arts in the “well-rounded education” definition, and it integrates the arts into traditional STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects. We are ensuring that our local dance talent can live and thrive in Northern Nevada and provide our citizenry with quality arts education.”

In today’s ever-changing world, arts education is becoming more and more important. It is vital for arts organizations to present live theater productions and exhibitions, but it is just as vital to provide a strong arts-integrated education. The future of our country rests upon our children, and their future rests on a strong STEAM education. SNB is most grateful for an amazingly dedicated, talented and professional staff working hard to achieve this goal.

Rosine Bena is the artistic director of the Sierra Nevada Ballet.

[Reprinted from 12:05 p.m. PST January 26, 2016, RGJ Publications.]