Matthew Stabley

Company Teaches Kids Leadership, Self-Confidence Through Dance

A Maryland dance company uses movement to go beyond words to teach children about leadership and self-confidence.

ClancyWorks Dance Company uses dance instead of words as a teaching tool.

“You always hear about dance being a non-verbal art form, which is huge because then it crosses over language barriers,” founder and Artistic Director Adrienne Clancy said. “So to really see what people are saying beyond what their words are trying to say.”

For 17 years, ClancyWorks has provided low-income students with access to the creative arts.

“We run programs for all ages and all abilities, from pre-kindergarten all the way up to, we’ve had people in our senior classes who are like 96 years old,” Clancy said.

It’s not just about dancing. Students use creative movement that helps them solve conflicts and learn respect and tolerance.

“It gives us a sense of empowerment like we actually matter,” one student said. “And working with the ClancyWorks company has shown us that we can collaborate and still share our voices and we still matter.”

“I think dance allows you to see things in different ways,” dance instructor Alex Alletto said. “So maybe if you’re having a bad day, let’s work through it in a different way, instead of shutting down. Let’s dance through it.”

With her students in mind, Clancy created a performance all about resilience.

“What shocks are we absorbing personally, economically, environmentally on a community level, on a global level,” she said. “It opened up a world of possibilities and stories that not only got the dancers interested but a variety of different populations from high schools to the seniors to also working with corporations.”

Dancers perform the piece at schools around the area.

Clancy said the students often see their own life stories reflected in the dance piece, which is exactly what they're going for.

“And to hear their honesty, to hear how immediately it went to their personal points of view, for me then I feel like art is actually doing what its meant to do, which is reach people beyond just the artwork itself,” she said.

ClancyWorks Dance Company also brings the same dance program to businesses, teaching adults the same lessons as the children.

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