Santa Barbara Unified School Districts elementary school children will perform May 25 at La Cumbre Junior High School Theater.

Santa Barbara Unified School Districts elementary school children will perform May 25 at La Cumbre Junior High School Theater. (Courtesy photo)

Santa Barbara Dance Institute is joining Santa Barbara Unified School Districts (SBUSD) Afterschool Opportunities for Kids (AOK) to provide educational dance programs to local elementary schools.

At 6 p.m. May 25, 115 young performers from Cleveland, Franklin, Adelante, Monroe, Adams, Harding and McKinley elementary schools, and Santa Barbara Community Academy will take to the stage in AOK’s Performing Arts Showcase at La Cumbre Junior High School Theater, 2255 Modoc Road. The event is free to the community, although donations will be accepted.

Under the SBDI and AOK partnership, the students will come together as an ensemble for the first time since the pandemic shut down schools and performing arts events. Showcasing their work since February, the students will take the audience on a dance journey, performing to a variety of music by such artists as Elvis, Pitbull, Shakira, and Roberto Jr. y su Bandeño.

The SBDI- AOK Partnership program lets students participate in an after-school program consisting of academic and enrichment activities. During weekly classes, the students and SBDI teaching artists have been exploring the process by which movement put to music becomes dance, building confidence and skills through hard work, and creating a cohesive ensemble.

Working with schools and community centers with little to no art programming since 2005, SBDI’s programs immerse students in music and dance, fostering pride in personal achievement, a love of the arts, and a curiosity about the world.

SBDI- AOK brings quality integrated academic, and social-emotional learning practices that target and counter social isolation. Through direct programming and SBDI’s professional development programs for teachers, the organization has reached 25,000 children, 80 teachers, and 30,000 audience members.

SBDI strategies are based on the belief that dance should be a part of every child’s education, not just for those who can afford it.

“Working closely with schools and community centers, we believe that a healthy community requires public engagement that supports and embraces our community’s racial, cultural, and socio-economic complexity” said Rosalina Macisco, SBDI executive director.

SBDI thanks foundational support from Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, Kirby Jones Foundation, Maus Family Charity Fund, Towbes Fund for the Performing Arts, California Arts Council, Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture, city of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, and individual supporters.