Dancing Just Like Everyone Else
Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company residency
The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is in a special company residency at the A. Harry Moore Laboratory School in Jersey City. The Company conducts a special performance at the New Jersey City University for A. Harry Moore students every spring in NJCU’s Margret Williams Theatre in May. This performance involved NJCU students as well as Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company members, the audience was mainly special students from A Harry Moore School and students of NJCU.
The Company began working with A. Harry Moore Laboratory School in February 2016 as part of our ongoing residency at New Jersey City University (NJCU), as the school is part of NJCU. Established in 1931 as a special education school, the A. Harry Moore School is one of the oldest schools dedicated to special education in the state.
In March, after extensive meetings with the principal and teachers to learn about the students’ abilities, Nai-Ni Chen designed a curriculum for a selected group of students in the school. The curriculum is inspired by observing the students and teachers. It is evolving as it is being implemented by the Company’s teaching artists working with teachers and therapists at the school. Her approach is to ask the students to use images of natural phenomenon to guide their body and to create their own movement. In the first three weeks, the classes are already producing interesting reactions from students.
“I am a dolphin today!” exclaimed a student sitting in a wheelchair, making smooth motions with her entire upper body.
Ms. Lori Bierig, Physical Education teacher, said the class has “facilitated our students to explore and expand the scope of their physical abilities through the adaptation of Dance and Music”. She observed that students are using seldom used parts of their body in their dance lessons. One of the students, who never moves his right arm because his right-hand does not work very well, is moving the right arm happily as he swims forward in his imaginary ocean. Mr. Steven Goldberg, the Principal of the A. Harry Moore School said: “Whenever we ask our students how they would like to be treated they inevitably say just like everyone else. To watch our students be able to take the stage and dance just like everyone else is truly heartwarming and uplifting.”
Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company Teaching Artist Bo Pang with A.Harry Moore School Principal Steven Goldberg and Adaptive Phys. Ed. Teacher Lori Bierig