From service opportunities to stimulating world-class arts performances, Centre College brings cultural opportunities that delight and inspire those on campus and beyond. The College’s Norton Center for the Arts plays an integral role in these cultural—and educational—outreach efforts, recently playing host to a variety of movement workshops open to diverse community groups led by the internationally renowned Parsons Dance Company.
Based in New York City, and under the artistic direction of David Parsons, this contemporary dance ensemble presents uplifting, family-friendly contemporary dance to audiences around the world. Parsons was last at the Norton Center in 2007 in a program that also featured live music by the Turtle Island String Quartet.
The ensemble has a history of working with audiences of all ages through education and outreach programs. Parsons often hosts post-show discussions, open rehearsals, studio showcases and open company classes. It has also partnered with Democracy Prep Public Schools in Harlem to incorporate contemporary dance into the full-time curricula of K-12 students.
Parsons brought this passion for outreach projects to Centre prior to Tuesday’s Norton Center performance, teaching classes to students from several schools in the area.
“The Norton Center has long-standing relationships with many community groups and continues to build and develop relationships with new groups,” Executive Director of the Norton Center Steve Hoffman explains. “When opportunities arise that make sense to connect with various groups, we form collaborations.”
The ensemble led middle and high school students from the Kentucky School for the Deaf in a dance clinic Monday morning, followed by a movement workshop with kindergarten and elementary students who attend Wilderness Trace Childhood Development Center as well as youth and young adults diagnosed with autism. That evening, the ensemble provided an intermediate-level dance master class for students from Centre and other regional dance studios and programs.
Though these diverse community groups have varied needs, Hoffman notes they are not treated differently and that “respect and eagerness to create is key for every participant.
“The Norton Center just started a relationship with the Kentucky Association for Behavioral Analysis (ABA), a statewide non-profit service organization that serves people with behavioral issues and their caregivers,” Hoffman continues. “Providing these program opportunities allows people who don’t always have direct connections with the arts to learn about creativity and movement and hopefully appreciate and enjoy the arts now and in the long-term.”
During their stay at the Norton Center, Parsons Dance put on two performances—an autism-friendly matinee for students in Boyle County and a general evening performance.
Providing learning opportunities to those beyond the Centre community allows “us [at the College] to share our unique Centre vision with our neighbors and ourselves,” Hoffman says.
“Centre College provides a foundation for learning and creation of ideas. Allowing people to express themselves—quite often pushing people outside of their own comfort zone or perceived self ability—is something Centre does daily,” Hoffman concludes. “The artists leave our campus also having learned and pushed them beyond their own comfort zones.”
by Hayley Hoffman ‘16
October 14, 2015