The Arts Council’s Artists-in-the-Schools Program recently provided week long residencies in African Dance in Cartoogechaye and East Franklin Elementary Schools. Franklin native Jada Bryson developed and conducted the dance program for the schools’ physical education classes.
Teaching children to express themselves through dance is Bryson’s passion, and students were clearly excited and engaged by the experience. They learned the Kakilambe dance, which tells the story of planting and harvesting. On March 2, Bryson brought in five guest artists from Asheville to perform at both schools - dancers Kelly Davis, Jesse Willig, and Efia, and drummers Imhotep Dlanod and Ian. Some of Bryson’s advanced students also assisted in the program. The Arts Council plans to extend this project to other schools.
Bryson has 24 years of dance experience, having studied ballet, tap, modern/contemporary, jazz, and West African dance forms.
A 2002 graduate of Franklin High School, and a 2007 graduate of UNC-Asheville (BA degree in Theatre and Dance), she is employed at Betsy’s School of Dance in Franklin, where she teaches a variety of dance classes including African fusion, a combination of West African and other dance forms. She also works on the Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) Creative Décor Team, and has worked with LEAF in Schools in Streets in the Asheville City School system.
The Artists-in-the-Schools Program
The Arts Council, in partnership with the Macon County Board of Education, provides interactive, instructive performances and artists’ residencies for students at all grade levels in our public schools, at no cost to the students. In addition to African Dance, the current school year has included programs in poetry performance by Poetry Alive, the internationally acclaimed Richter-Uzur guitar and cello duo, and the Weinberg-Babelay sax and vibes jazz duo. The annual Showcase of Talent, another Arts Council/School Board collaboration to be held Saturday, April 30, in the Franklin High School Fine Arts Center, will feature a demonstration of African Dance by some of the students participating in the residencies.