They counted, jumped, kicked and swayed to the music. Minds In Motion, an educational initiative of the Richmond Ballet, had nearly 70 fourth-grade students from Hopkins Road Elementary School demonstrate and entertain parents and teachers with a end-of the-year performance on a Wednesday evening at the school. The program was highlighted with two choreographed numbers, titled Tango of the Blue Crab and Dancing for a Brand New Bay.
In its 15th year, Minds In Motion is a year-long program that teaches fourth-grade students discipline, dedication and self-awareness by leading them through a series of choreographic movements that must be memorized and expanded upon in each class session. It is not a ballet class, but a way to teach students the benefits of applying themselves to a task involving both mental and physical challenges. It requires no special clothing, shoes or equipment. A pianist accompanies all of the classes, adding another enriching dimension to the experience. Students learn to count the beats and measures of the music and learn the elements of rhythm. This year’s theme was the Chesapeake Bay.
According to the history of Minds In Motion, fourth-grade students are selected because they have both the physical coordination and the concentration skills necessary to benefit each week from the 45-minute classes. Also, this age group is generally uninhibited and willing to try new things with enthusiasm. With the development of memorization skills and repeating choreographic patterns, the activity can help strengthen mathematical abilities, as well as provide a physical fitness component to a student’s life. It also requires each student to develop focus, discipline and self-control.
Hopkins Road Elementary was one of 20 area elementary schools participating in the Minds In Motion workshop.