|‘New Horizons: A Children’s Program for Life’|
Moscow Ballet’s‘New Horizons: A Children’s Program for Life’ positively addresses today’s children’s dietary, movementand creative expressionbehaviors throughhands-on experiences rooted in the performing arts.
The goals are to reach out to children and to individually influence their current behaviors and future aspirations. This is accomplished through positive role modeling, performance experience and developing healthful dietary and movement habits for every day use. The program combats the current crisis of little or no funding for art, theatre and dance programs and/or schools charging for such programs. Stimulating children’s imagination and self esteem empowers them to become positive contributors to their community now and in the future.
The children’s teachers or supervisors share the Great Russian Nutcracker story of peace, cooperation and celebration of cultural diversity (from the Moscow Ballet book) and Guidelines for Good Health with them. The childrenattend a performance of Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker where they are personally introduced to Moscow Ballet soloists as healthy, creative and successful role models to emulate. New Horizonscannot be easily duplicated and can be life-changing for a city’s children.
Participation in this program goes a long way toward building community on all levels. Funds stay within the community, stimulate the local economy and provide countless benefits to all of the residents who enjoy Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker.
‘New Horizons: A Children’s Program for Life’ is three pronged, generating healthy and creative guidelines and role modeling for impressionable school-aged children and provides live interactions with Moscow Ballet role models as well as attendance at a performance of the Great Russian Nutcracker.
Children heara reading from Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker book before the performance. A critical first-step in the program’s activities, hearing the story read aloud beforehand activates children’s learning and deeper cognitive processes according to published experts in the field Sharna Olfman, author and PH. D., ed and others. It also deepens their understanding of the Great Russian Nutcracker’s themes of peace, cooperation, and celebration of cultural diversity.Supervisors receive a copy of Moscow Ballet’s hardback book beautifully illustrated by Olga Larinova of the St Petersburg Academy of Art Repin Institute.
Study guides for the three pronged program; dietary recommendations, movement recommendations and creative expression recommendations are supplied to participating supervisors.
Another important facet of the New Horizons program is experiencing the performance itself. This opens the children’s awareness to the fantastic physical prowess of the dancers and to the overarching value-based messages. The dancers, of which 20 are male and 20 are female, are healthy and successful role models for the children. Experiencing the aesthetics of the world class performance (dancing, music, 200 hand-sewn costumes, and 9 hand-painted backdrops) takes the children to a new place in their minds, a place where imagination becomes possible, empowering the child’s sense of self and will. This is akin to young Bill Clinton shaking President Kennedy’s hand as a teen, seeding the concept that he too could become president one day.
Interacting with live role models is also an important activity for the children who will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of meeting a Moscow Balletsoloist in person. This interaction provides a lasting memory that potentially inspires the children for the rest of their lives.
GOALS & OBJECTIVES
‘New Horizons: A Children’s Program for Life’goal is to offer children from regional school districts the opportunity to experience a world class cultural event that might not otherwise be available to them. The program enables them to have a cutting edge understanding of the opportunities the arts world has to offer through performance art demonstrations, meet-and-greets with Russian dancers, and cultural lectures. The program combats the obstacles early on that hinder developing an understanding of the potential contributions they themselves can make to the growing creative economy due to the current lack of exposure to culture and adequate educational funding in many American school district curriculums.
The program encourages its participants to develop healthy lifestyle choices leading to lifelong wellness by providing practical instructions that enables the children to live happy while still living healthy.
NEEDS ASSESSMENT and DEMOGRAPHIC DATA:
‘New Horizons: A Children’s Program for Life’ is based on evidence of great need nationally.
Recent studies suggest that kids spend, on average, close to 25% of their waking hours, in front of an electronic screen. A 2009 survey indicates that 23% of high school students do not engage in the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise (see MMWR Series prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). According to the National Association of School Nurses, 17% of students are considered obese and 32% are overweight – 49% of all school age children! [Obesity is defined as body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile of the 2000 CDC and Prevention BMI-for-age growth charts.]
Intolerance of others and direct anti-social behavior is another aspect of an unhealthy lifestyle that is frequently noted in the news and stems in part from lack of good physical health, as well as creative outlets for children. According to a presentation at the American Educational Research Association Conference 2000 by Hoover and Oliver, “…out of all students in grades 8-12, 80% reported that they had been bullied at some point in their school career and… 90% of the students in grades 4-8 reported being bullied.”
Academic achievement data is not positive either. In 2010, American students ranked 24th in the 2007 PISA Science Scale says the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developmentand nearly every US state is facing a budget deficit, leading to cuts in public education everywhere, with the arts historically being the first to be dropped. Harvard University’s 2009 Education Week states, “31 states face budget shortfalls of $30 billion or more…the prospects for comprehensive arts education in most K-12 public schools appear bleak, and even schools with minimal programs may lose what they considered to be bare bones to begin with.”
In response to low or no funding, many schools are implementing a controversial "pay to play" policy, reports The Wall Street Journal. Some are charging students for after-school activities, electives and even required courses. The Los Angeles Timesquestions the constitutionality of similar fees in California. The Kansas City Starreports that 28% of districts in Kansas have instituted some variation of the “pay to play” fee. At all levels, public resources are dwindling.
Moscow Ballet proposes that children’s physical inactivity, in conjunction with unhealthy dietary habits and lack of constructive creative outlets in school and at home, plays a significant role in today’s epidemic of childhood obesity, increased anti-social behaviors and a general decline in academic achievement. ‘New Horizons: A Children’s Program for Life’ addressesthese core issues in a unique, positive and sustainable program.
The results of the program are measured based on individually recorded feedback from participates as well as a summation of the overall benefits produced by the official designated to supervise the grant’s beneficiaries.
Moscow Ballet has been touring continental North America for twenty years with productions of classic ballets Cinderella, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo & Juliet and, of course, the one and only Great Russian Nutcracker.
In addition to touring for the past twenty years, Moscow Ballet has also been a leader in communities across the United States in providing affordable, and in many cases free, high quality master classes using the expertise of the best Russian ballerinas of modern times; sponsoring and executing literacy campaigns with school, universities and businesses (Barnes & Noble Books). Moscow Ballet has also organized large-scale benefit events based on the strength of the company’s talent and expertise to raise millions for organizations such as the National M.S. Society, Susan G. Komen Foundation, and M.A.D.D.
Among being some of the best dancers in the world, Moscow Ballet ballerinas are also extremely generous in sharing their unique and invaluable artistic and cultural knowledge by leading several hundred Russian Cultural Lectures & Dance Demonstrations.
The dancers of Moscow Ballet are experts qualifying them as role models for healthy living due to the demands of their profession and their own personal drive to maintain excellent lifelong wellness.
Moscow Ballet is entering its 21st consecutive year of coast-to-coast to more than 70 cities, including most of the top 20 largest demographic areas. The company works with many of the nation’s finest arts organizations and has an infrastructure in most of the communities they tour to. Annually touring with 40 Russian dancers, the company has performed for a cumulative total of about 3,000,000 people across the country.