Pan American Dance Institute Preserves Heritage

dancersThe College of Education’s Pan American Dance Institute (PADI), housed in the Human Performance, Dance and Recreation Department, was formed to promote self-expression and artistic creativity, investigate cross-cultural and interdisciplinary points of view, and develop appreciation for the diversity of world customs and traditions.  In particular, PADI serves as a locus for the study and promotion of dance in response to the educational and cultural needs of New Mexico while incorporating elements from national and international traditions.

To carry out its mission, PADI offers programs and performances for schoolchildren of all ages and adults.  From 2007-2010, 2,000 elementary school students enrolled in after-school dance classes. Performances of “El Viaje del Arte,” a production of the history and cultural importance of Classical Spanish and Flamenco dance, “La Bella y Bestia,” a southwestern version of the Beauty and the Beast, and “A Walk in the Desert,” designed to teach appreciation for the beauty of the desert, have reached thousands of students across the state.  A number of collaborative performances have been offered for children of the orphanage in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

In collaboration with the Dance Program, PADI has brought internationally recognized guest artists to the area including Flamenco dance artists Antonio Granjero and Estefania Ramirez, Modern Dance choreographer Bill Evans, and Brazilian dance teacher Dr. Eluza Santos.

PADI will be touring its “Literacy through Movement” project October 2010- May 2011, through the generous support of the Stocker Foundation. The project is geared towards elementary school students and promotes literacy and story comprehension through the medium of dance. Between 10,000 – 12,500 students in the Gadsden, Las Cruces, and Bernalillo School Districts will be able to experience this 45-minute interactive performance. Teachers in the school districts will also be provided with in-service training on how to engage the students in their classrooms through a kinesthetic approach.

On March 22-25, 2011, PADI and the Dance Program will be hosting the American College Dance Festival, a national festival in which over 500 students and teachers from 22 universities in the region gather for one week to take classes from nationally and internationally renowned guest artists and perform in an adjudicated concert.

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