DanceUSF Visits Local Tampa School

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Five USF dance students are pictures in white clothing against a black background performing in the Fall 2017 Student Dance Concert

DanceUSF students perform in the Fall Dance Concert series in November 2017.

John Parks, USF instructor of dance, and three dance students had the chance to visit Hillel Academy of Tampa to perform and discuss dance with students.

Parks and the USF dance students engaged the young students with the art of dance.

Nathalia Guzman, Samuel Melecio-Zambrano, and Lital Gelman are the dance students who participated in the visit to Hillel. Guzman and Melecio-Zambrano performed a portion of their duet Camps, while Gelman performed a portion of her solo piece for her Bachelor of Fine Arts thesis project.

This was not the first time the USF dance department has taken dance out into the schools of the local community.

Melecio-Zambrano participated in a visit to Gibbs High School with assistant professor of dance Bliss Kholmyer in the spring of 2017. Additionally, during the Fall 2017 semester, Melecio-Zambrano visited Blake High School with Kholmyer and world-renowned choreographer Robert Moses, who was serving as a guest artist at the USF School of Theatre and Dance.

This time, the students encountered a younger audience. For Melecio-Zambrano, this makes the visit even more rewarding.

"It wasn't until we arrived that I realized how young most of these students were and that many of them had not seen dance before," writes Melecio-Zambrano in an email. "That was when I realized that we were doing something really special."

He says students were attentive, though perhaps unsure of how to respond to the performances, that is, until one student asked the dancers if they "dab" – a popular hip-hop dance move originating in Atlanta that has since become a pop culture phenomenon. This establishment of a common ground Hillel prompted students to eagerly ask questions up until the final moments of the visit.

Melecio-Zambrano, a male dance student, appreciated the wholehearted participation of all the students. He says female students were first to show interest in dance. By the end of the visit, everyone was active in the discussion of dance.

Furthermore, solo dancer Gelman learned a lot by interacting with the audience of Hillel students.

"Noticing the connection the students were able to make to my work allowed me to realize the more I connect to my audience the more curious, interested, and supported they will be," she writes in an email.

She says students resonated with her movements and began to formulate their own connections with the piece.

"[By] showing them how important movement is in regards to expression and interpretations of other individuals," said Gelman, "I feel their reception of dance opened up in many ways, especially in understanding the human body and reading energy."

For more information, see the Tampa Bay Times article DanceUSF Showcases Skills to Hillel Students.