Kansas City Ballet Completes First Year of New ROAD Scholarship Program 

R.O.A.D. Scholars taking class. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
R.O.A.D. Scholars taking class. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

Since 2000 Kansas City Ballet has provided an educational outreach program called Reach Out And Dance (R.O.A.D.) to elementary students using movement to enhance learning. The program has grown to become the centerpiece of KCB’s Community Engagement and Education.

WHAT IS R.O.A.D.?

Each week R.O.A.D. provides movement classes to hundreds of 3rd and 4th grade students in Missouri and Kansas elementary schools introducing children to the fundamentals of dance and integrating 21st century learning skills and curriculum. The program provides under-served and at-risk youth with a different learning paradigm through which they can experience success, develop self-discipline, and strive for personal excellence within and outside the school environment, all of which is demonstrated by post-program survey assessments.

THE R.O.A.D. SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

R.O.A.D. Scholars performance at the Bolender Center. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
R.O.A.D. Scholars performance at the Bolender Center. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

This year brought the introduction of the R.O.A.D. Scholarship Program. Its goal is to enhance cultural awareness, foster creativity, strengthen critical thinking and problem solving skills, expose students to potential careers in dance, and to cultivate an appreciation for the art form.

The first phase of the program began in September 2017. Teaching artists impart different movement styles to students weekly and gauge their interest and ability. In the second phase, select students enter a tuition-free Dance Discovery program at Kansas City Ballet School from January  through April. Transportation to and from KCBS, Ballet Fundamentals class plus Modern and Jazz classes, and necessary dance attire is provided at no cost to the student’s family. The third phase is planned for summer when these same students will be provided tuition-free summer classes at KCBS.

“We are so excited to offer this new comprehensive program that will create a broader reach and make dance even more accessible to students who might not have had the opportunity to participate in this way before,” KCB Community Engagement and Education Manager April Berry said. “Our research shows this program not only helps students with their school curriculum, like geography, math and social studies, but it leaves many with a boost in confidence to help them succeed. Principals and teachers have raved about the effects of this new program and we are thrilled to have  80+ students who have completed their fist year of the program. R.O.A.D. Scholars will attend KCB’s Peter Pan performance this weekend as part of the program.”

A DONOR WITH HEART

Dance Shoppe Owner Susan Bibbs. Photography by Andrea Wilson.
Dance Shoppe Owner Susan Bibbs. Photography by Andrea Wilson.

For more than 32 years, Dance Shoppe, Inc. has served as the number one supplier of dance wear in Kansas City, Mo. Opened in 1985, they have always stayed true to their commitment to high quality dance apparel and, because of this, they have had the distinct honor of serving dancers throughout their careers.

This season Susan Bibbs, Owner of Dance Shoppe, donated all of the dance wear for KCB’s new R.O.A.D. Scholarship Program.

Maybe it’s because she grew up in a small town in Western Kansas where community is second nature, where people help one another however they can.  Or, maybe it’s from all the support that Bibbs and her business have received throughout the last three decades. Now she feels it’s her time to ‘Pay It Forward’.  She is thankful she is in a position where she can give back and make a difference.

R.O.A.D. Scholarship students in ballet attire courtesy of Dance Shoppe. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.
R.O.A.D. Scholarship students in ballet attire courtesy of Dance Shoppe. Photography by Elizabeth Stehling.

“The right outfit is everything…  Like a baseball player needs a glove, so does a dancer need the proper dance attire. Not just for ease and freedom in movement that dance wear provides but for the total picture, it’s the completion, a mind-set,” Bibbs said. “After all these years, it still amazes me to see the excitement on the faces of kids when they get their first pair of dance shoes.”

Bibbs was excited to offer assistance to the program. “I feel our part is simple compared to what all is entailed in the organization of this project.  The coordination of the students, the schools, the transportation, etc. is mind boggling,” she said.

April Berry couldn’t be happier to be part of this partnership: “A generous gift of this nature is invaluable to our ROAD scholarship program. Providing these deserving and talented children with these outfits not only serves them physically but helps improve self-esteem by showing they belong and that their community cares about them.”