Interview with Erica Arnold/DREAM Dance Program
The Fordney Foundation is proud to announce that through our affiliation with Erica Arnold, she will be able to once again resume her DREAM Dance Program for grade school children.
Congratulations Erica on being able to conduct Zoom classes with Colfax Charter Elementary School for 4th and 5th grade classes in Valley Village, CA. DREAM stands for: Discover, Respect, Express, Achieve, Motivation. Erica teaches these classes from her own dance studio. This non-profit program is entirely funded by the Fordney Foundation.
Freddie Brock: We know how successful your DREAM Program was before COVID-19. Tell us how you plan to conduct Zoom classes?
Eric Arnold: We are conducting the ballroom classes as normal as possible during this pandemic. We have had to make some changes though. Since we cannot physically dance with each other we are teaching dance steps that the kids can do by themselves. We are still focusing on our ballroom dances, just not the partnering aspect that ballroom dancing encounters.
FB: How many Zoom classes will you do and how long will the program run?
EA: DREAM program is running the same length as before, 30 weeks. We have condensed the classes to having all of 4th grade at one time and then all of 5th grade at one time once a week. Normally we see each class individually.
FB: What dances will you be teaching in your Zoom classes?
EA: We have learned Merengue, Salsa, Cha Cha, and working on the Triple Swing.
FB: Describe how you will teach ballroom dances to students and how different it
will be without the student’s having partners?
EA: Teaching via Zoom has had its challenges. Connection is sometimes spotty and will glitch in and out for the students. For some students, they are on ipads or other devices that the screens are small and hard for them to see. As a teacher, I can’t see all of them at one time. I have to scroll through pages to watch them all. I have had to think outside of the box with explaining things and demonstrating steps.
Ballroom dancing is a unique style of dance. There are many elements in ballroom dance and we focus a great deal on partnering in our normal 30-week program but now we have the opportunity to concentrate on steps, musicality, footwork, and freedom that ballroom dancing also has.
FB: Can you tell us how the children are adapting to this new style of learning to dance?
EA: The students have been very adaptable. The 5th graders who were 4th graders last year are missing the interactive part of ballroom dancing but being able to dance in the comfort of their own homes has allowed some students the confidence of letting go and just moving with the music.
FB: Maybe you can share some of the feedback you are getting from students?
EA: I do not get a lot of time with students to hear their feedback. The school day has been shortened so we have to squeeze in ballroom dancing. When I do get the chance to watch them, I see a lot of the students having fun with the dance steps. They will ask what song I played as well as ask suggestions on what kind of music they can practice to.
FB: I bet the parents are happy to see their children getting the opportunity to move
and learn to dance? Have you spoken to parents about your new Zoom program?
EA: I have not spoken to any parents about the new way of conducting ballroom dance this school year. I have seen a few parents join in occasionally to learn ballroom dance. The parents at Colfax Charter Elementary have always been supportive of the DREAM program so I am sure they are happy their kids get an opportunity to get up during the school day and move their bodies.
FB: Will you be shooting the Zoom classes from your own EA Studio?
EA: Yes, I teach the Zoom classes every week at my studio in Encino.
FB: Please add anything else you would like to say about your new DREAM Program.
EA: The DREAM program whether it’s in person, at school or online is giving kids the chance to escape from things happening in the world. They are being affected by this pandemic more then we know. They don’t get to see their friends, play outside, or do the activities they use to. DREAM Dance Program is giving these kids a chance to get up out of a chair and from staring at a screen and move their bodies to music.
Erica Arnold is the owner of EA Dance along with her husband Artemi Okunev. They have an adorable little boy named Radion, who I am sure will be a ballroom dancer too, someday and they are expecting their second child very soon. This time it is a girl!
To find out more about DREAM, you can follow the DREAM program on: Facebook – @dreamdanceprogram, Instagram – @dreamdanceprogram and Twitter – @DREAMdanceprog, as well as our Fordney Foundation website: https://www.fordneyfoundation.org/d-r-e-a-m.
The Fordney Foundation has newly added Virtual Dance Classes under the Programs heading in our website. There you will see Erica and her husband Artemi breakdown steps that anyone can easily follow for the Rumba, Hustle, Samba and Cha-Cha-Cha. If you always wanted to learn how to dance, here's your chance!
If you are interested in taking dance lessons, find out more about it by contacting Erica at EA Dance in Encino, CA and find out about all of their dance programs.
The Fordney Foundation is committed to helping children and young adults to realize their dreams of artistically expressing themselves through ballroom dancing. Program funding for the Fordney Foundation comes from tax-deductible donations and public fundraising. https://www.fordneyfoundation.org/donate
Thought Of The Week:
There is no greater joy nor greater reward than to make a fundamental difference in someone's life - Sister Mary Rose McGeady