Shen Wei Dance Arts in New York City’s Public Schools

Shen Wei Dance Arts partners with NYC public schools to provide arts-in-education programming to at-risk New York City public school students. Our programs seek to open students' thought processes to a lifetime of learning and to encourage creativity, foster self-confidence, build body awareness, learn team skills, and develop respect for individual expression.

At PS1 in Inwood and PS5 in Chinatown our CONNECT TRANSFER Program serves a 150 third-graders and 60 fourth-graders. Our PS1 and PS5 curricula explore the idea of metaphor in color, words and movement; students create paintings and use their paintings to explore physical expression. Ultimately, students form both solo and group dances in relation to their art while learning about shape, rhythm, and spatial constructs.

For 8 years, at  IS311 in East Brooklyn, Shen Wei Dance Arts worked with English Language Arts classes. IS311 had a number of special needs and ESL students, and a number who lived in foster homes. These students struggled to express themselves both verbally and in writing; our program was designed to help students develop self-expression. Students wrote a personal text and explored the rhythm & emotional content of their writing through movement. The program demystified the creative process and freed students to verbalize. During this process, SWDA teaching artists encouraged self-expression and the understanding of syntax and language structure through the development of movement, using students' own writings. Students kept journals of their workshop experiences to promote their writing skills and reinforce the connections they learned.

SWDA's program observes the goals of sequential arts instruction and addresses NYC BOE standards for visual arts and music, tying dance to other arts and to core curriculum subjects. Students learn to analyze, create and perform dance. To practice meta-cognitive thinking, they are encouraged to draw connections between dance and writing, visual art, anatomy and geometry.

At both PS5 & PS1 Chinese history is integrated by way of Shen Wei's background. Students also study abstraction and develop the ability to identify meaning and inspiration of specific artworks. As well, students learn dance-specific vocabulary; demonstrate quality, rhythm, tempo, and dynamics through movement; learn to follow music by counting and translate that to dance; harmonize through group movements; observe and recall; and watch professional dancers in performance.

For more information about Shen Wei Dance Arts in the Schools or to arrange a program for your school please contact