Dancers love a good pivot turn!
The word Pivot has been used by many organizations this past year to describe a quick change of direction to something new or different. As I think about the last year, and how ArtSparks was fortunate enough not only to survive but to thrive during the pandemic, I can’t help but feel that it’s because we didn’t just pivot, we (go figure!) completed a full pivot turn. Let me explain…
At ArtSparks, a pivot turn is taught in two steps: a half turn that momentarily takes the dancers focus away from the audience, and another half turn that is with a punch of strength and energy that wows the audience. (We often ask our students to emphasize this part of the turn by saying the word “POW!”) Our pandemic pivot was executed in much the same way. While the onset of Covid-19 did cause the ArtSparks Teaching Teams to pause, regroup, and momentarily shift their focus to things like PPE and virtual technology, they quickly completed their full turn and brought their focus right back to their audience: the amazing children we serve. They didn’t let the challenges they faced serve as an excuse to minimize the students’ experience; instead, they dug deeper to revamp curriculum, reimagine delivery strategies, and utilize technology to keep our students engaged and inspired. They found ways to incorporate props, images, and items students had at home and even created characters like the Secretary of Style and King Tempo who delivered material in hilariously creative ways. As a result of their creativity and dedication to keeping the student experience at the forefront of everything we do, they have wowed their audiences in ways I could not have imagined.
Dancers love a good pivot turn; and although this pandemic pivot was one that I’m sure all of us could have lived without, we have grown, we have learned, and we have shared our love for dance and music in ways that would not otherwise have been possible, so it deserves a little love, too. And speaking of love, many thanks to our generous supporters and our school and community partners who supported our efforts over the last year. We could not have done it without you!
A Message from our Founder
Founding Music Director
Mr. Simon Says
In 2012, Kara Cea and Ron Hazelett founded ArtSparks on the belief that the arts play a vital role in fostering the creativity and self-confidence necessary to be a productive citizen. And their vision for the children of our community has grown to impact so many lives. Ron tells his heartfelt story of why the arts are so important to every child:
A Special Note
Aniyah experienced her first moment of ArtSparks magic in her school gym 3 years ago. Aniyah was a very sweet and shy 3rd grader at Silver Lake Elementary, but in that moment she proudly stood at the front of her class demonstrating the choreography with confidence, exuberance, and mastery. Aniyah has grown in her exuberant confidence and mastery of choreography in her 3 years on our TNT/XD scholarship team. Dance brought out a leader and a performer in Aniyah that day at Silver Lake Elementary….and her mom, Kelly, has seen it continue to shine:
“ArtSparks has helped Aniyah's self esteem. She looks forward to Fridays so she can do ArtSparks. It keeps her active and that is good for the kids. She will also dance through the house and she always smiles... I think it makes her happy!”
TNT and XD Celebrate
On Friday, March 25th 2016, Miss Erica and Mr. Ron waited with anticipation for the first dancers to arrive on what would become a very historic day in ArtSparks’ story. And in they came--- a joyful crew of 8 and 9 year olds from schools across Akron and Cuyahoga Falls who were meeting together for the first time to dance, learn, and grow together. It was a magical first evening that has never stopped enchanting us all.
Reflecting on that inaugural class of our TNT (Top-Notch Team) scholarship team, I can’t help but feel immense pride in the growth of the team in its first 5 years. That joyful crew of 8 and 9 year olds have paved the way for each new step in the scholarship program’s climb to excellence. In 2018, a second level of study was created (Team XD) where dancers begin to study fundamentals from various genres of dance and our team began to grow in number (offering 40+ scholarships between the two levels of study). And those pioneers kept climbing....their talent, dedication, and leadership prompting implementation of an internship program in 2020. Some days it amazes me to think back to those 8 and 9 year olds who started it all, who are now interns mastering very advanced choreography, leading parts of classes, collaborating together to create their own work, and making every effort to be welcoming and loving leaders to every dancer on the advanced teams---including each years’ joyful crew of 8 and 9 year olds who are just beginning their ArtSparks journeys.
And we still have goals to give these children MORE. More opportunities to be engaged in dance classes. More opportunities to work and perform in their communities. More opportunities to discover who they can be. Help be a part of giving them MORE: http://www.artsparksdance.org/breakingbarriers
Support ArtSparks today!
You can play a key role in fostering creativity and self-confidence as children experience the Arts in new and profound ways.
You’ll encourage children to develop a belief in themselves that impacts all aspects of their lives.
Your generosity provides access to high-quality dance programming along with the ArtSparks commitment to fostering the understanding of dance as an art form while challenging students of all ages and abilities to discover new heights of individual excellence.