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Modern Dance in the Modern Classroom – Rhode Island Students Learn Through Movement

Modern Dance in the Modern Classroom – Rhode Island Students Learn Through Movement


Fusionworks Dance Company


Rhode Island, NYC


Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 8:00pm



Fusionworks Dance Company

Modern Dance in the Modern Classroom – Rhode Island Students Learn Through Movement


Fusionworks Dance Company, Rhode Island’s oldest modern dance company, has a new member in its Junior Company. Laurence Fernandez, a high school student in Pawtucket, RI, has chosen to spend his Friday nights and weekends studying and rehearsing modern dance at Fusionworks’ Lincoln, RI studio.                      


Laurence first discovered dance and Fusionworks during a daytime, in-school arts program called a Fusionworks Residency, which engages kids, their teachers, and their parents. Bridging the gap in the arts in at-risk public schools throughout the state, Fusionworks is proving that learning happens on a grand scale when kids have a chance to express themselves in the classroom.

The Residencies happen over the course of six to eight weeks, for several hours per week. Fusionworks’ Education Team works intensely with classroom teachers to interweave academic subject matter and modern dance. Fusionworks residencies do more than just add a dance component to existing curricula. Instead, students learn subject matter through dance.

This certainly happened for Laurence Fernandez, who says, “Throughout my life I’ve always wanted to dance but I never had the courage to walk into a studio and take a class. Fusionworks has taught me to never be afraid to step out of my comfort zone. Fusionworks changed my outlook on the world and on myself. I feel I can walk into any studio and dance because Fusionworks has made it clear that you can’t be afraid to dance.” After graduating from high school, Laurence Fernandez plans to pursue dance during college, and eventually become a member of a professional dance company.

Perhaps the best part of the Residency Program for Fernandez and many other students is the grand finale, a custom and professionally choreographed dance that is stage-ready for students to perform at the Locally Grown public concert series, alongside professional dancers from the Company.

By further adding after school community events for students’ friends and families, Fusionworks has noticed public performances becoming more popular. And while Deb Meunier, Fusionworks’ Artistic Director, is thrilled about this outcome, she admits, “Better attendance isn’t the only thing we’re after. Everything we do is driven by our main goal – to better the lives of our community members by providing them with arts-rich experiences.”

Meunier and Fernandez aren’t the only people who are excited. Every school that has had a Residency program has seen an increase in academic performance by participating students, teachers collaborating with each other for the first time, and parents taking a renewed interest in their kids’ educations.  After seeing her students perform at Locally Grown, Nikki Carrara, a teacher at Jenks Junior High School in Pawtucket, said, “Today [my students] were exposed to a world that they only dreamed existed before. They worked together as a team, and sacrificed personal comfort to keep the group together and moving forward. Every single one of them recognized a personal moment of great achievement today."

Residencies scheduled for the 2014-15 school year include the following schools: The Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing Arts (Pawtucket); Jenks Junior High School (Pawtucket); two programs at Woonsocket High School; and Edgewood Highland Elementary School (Cranston).

For more information about the Fusionworks Residency Program, how to donate to Fusionworks, or any other information please visit www.fusionworksdance.com or www.facebook.com/fusionworks.

Fusionworks’ 2014-15 School Residency Program is supported by The Rhode Island Foundation.

Fusionworks’ Mission: To engage and enrich the lives of others through modern dance performance and community educational outreach; to provide high-quality programming for youth and adults; to stay on the cutting edge of modern dance with gutsy, striking choreography; and to always go beyond the edge of the stage.

(Pictured: Laurence Fernandez and Alexis DeCastro)

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