Kern Dance Alliance combines two great hobbies – reading and dancing – for its Books in Motion program, which returns to local libraries on Thursday.
In partnership with the Kern County Library and the Kern Literacy Council, the program introduces early readers to a dance-like rendition of a beloved children’s book performed by a local dance group, then allows them to bring that story to life. by learning the choreography of the story and completing a book. themed crafts.
Aimed at children in the early stages of literacy (kindergarten to grade three), the aim is to spark their interest in reading by seeing these stories come to life, with the dance helping to connect the books to their imaginations, even if their reading skills are not. up to this level.
Since 2017, the program has reached more than 6,000 children and distributed nearly 3,000 free books.
Although BIM programming officially begins this week, KDA offered a celebrity reader event featuring New York City Ballet principal dancer and Bakersfield native Tiler Peck, who appeared with fellow dancer and author Kyle Harris on June 22. .
The couple read excerpts from their new book, “Katarina Ballerina and the Victory Dance,” and guided the young participants through choreography.
“It was amazing,” KDA president Andrea Hansen said of the event. “We had almost 300 people at the event. Tyler and Kyle were so thrilled. … It was their first (in-person) signing. They were worried that no one would come, but there were only standing room.”
The rest of the Books in Motion session won’t be as big but just as enthusiastic, with 10 local dance groups taking part in 15 library locations.
This year’s dancers will come from Bakersfield City Ballet, McLaughlin Dance Collective, Spotlight Dance Academy, Spotlight Academy of the Arts, Aloha Entertainment, DAT Krew Academy, DanceNation and Heather Benes and the East Kern Ragtag Revels.
“What’s really interesting about this crop is that many dance artists with us this year joined us during the digital program,” said Hansen, referring to the last two years of the program which featured recordings. readings and choreography.
“It’s the first in-person (BIM) event for some. Making movies is fun, but there’s nothing like being live for artists, interacting with human beings. It makes part of the human experience.”
One such group first brought online for the program is DAT Krew Academy, which joined last year.
“We can’t wait to have fun with the kids we’ve never met before,” said Brushay Taylor, assistant and instructor at the academy.
Performers will be inspired by Stuart Lynch’s “Groovicorns in the City,” which is about the titular unicorns who head to the town of Moanhattan to try and cheer up the gray city gloomicorns.
The choreography will help promote the message that there is more to life than your phone.
“Dancing is a good way to have fun instead of using the internet or being on your phone,” Taylor said.
Specialized in hip-hop and street dance, the DAT Krew team will be made up of around fifteen dancers. (“Maybe more. We’ll make it work,” Taylor said.)
Taylor said her dancers are looking forward to their three BIM performances (see infobox for details).
“We’re thrilled to be part of Books in Motion for another year. … We love what they (Kern Dance Alliance) do and they support what we do.”
Instructor Heather Benes is also happy to bring her dancers into the community, admitting she’s a “live audience girl”. The Mojave-based instructor will have five dancers, ages 12 to 18, under the East Kern Ragtag Revels banner with a performance inspired by Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.”
Benes said, “It’s a whole different experience to see them in the room watching and doing that. A whole different kind of learning going on.”
“If we’re lucky, the kids will pick up this book and remember that they saw the duck doing the Suzy Q, kicking and flapping, and the bird waving its arms and they’ll try to figure it out. do it again. Take the book and seeing the illustrations, they will remember the movement of the characters.”
Benes said the costumes provided by Palmdale Playhouse’s Steve Miller will help the dancers get into character and set the stage for the performance, which will feature no sets.
The East Kern Ragtag Revels will have five BIM representations, including new locations at the Ridgecrest and Boron Library branches.
Noting that the current high cost of gasoline prohibits some parents from traveling extensively to entertain their families, Benes said the program is a boon to local children.
“To make these resources more accessible is great. It’s a wonderful program and it takes a lot of work to put them together. She (Andrea) has done a wonderful job.”
Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.