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East High School to launch performance dance class

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – The Fine Arts Institute (FAI) at Green Bay East High School has come a long way in the past decade.

“FAI began during the 2011-12 school year with only a music strand,” Fine Arts Program Coordinator Lucinda Roberts said. “When the program was initiated, it was always a plan to expand the offerings to students that included dance, visual arts and theater arts.”

Roberts said over the years, the program has developed other strands, and will now offer the final strand – dance, with the launch of its Performance Dance class, starting Nov. 29.

“These are typically the top strands seen in arts-oriented high schools nationwide,” she said.

Roberts said the goal of East’s FAI is to “prepare students for the future by building artistic and academic excellence in a creative and diverse environment. Our students will enrich the community through performance, service and collaboration to nurture their love for lifelong learning in the fine arts.”

She said the Green Bay Fine Arts strand – which includes Webster Elementary Children’s Center of Integrated Arts and Washington Middle School (WMS) for the Arts, which are feeder programs to the East’s FAI – gives students the opportunity to develop skills in all aspects of the arts from kindergarten through 12th grade. 

“We added dance four years ago at Washington and knew that once those students reached East that we wanted to continue the dance opportunity, so we developed the curriculum to do so and are excited to launch dance at East this year,” she said. “I wouldn’t say there was only one person behind the reasoning to add dance, as much as it was just ensuring that our plan was executed at the right time and was ready to be presented to students.”

Roberts said just as exciting as the addition of the class is the instructor heading it up.

“What has been exciting is the addition of Esrom Williams, Jr. to lead the next phase of the dance program,” she said. “I reached out to (a dance professor) at UW-Milwaukee and she was instrumental in introducing me to Esrom. He is completing his masters in dance performance and has a rich background in teaching and forming his own project-based dance company.  While at UW-Milwaukee, Esrom fell in love with Wisconsin and when Simone contacted him, he was very intrigued to learn more about our program and if it was the right, dare I say dance step direction for him, would he consider relocating to Wisconsin? Fortunately for our Fine Arts program, it was.”

Williams currently teaches several dance classes each morning at WMS and will begin afternoons at East Nov. 29, which Roberts believes will be well received.

“He’s held a dance workshop at East that was well-received and student excitement is very high to have dance debut at East soon,” she said. “I know he’s greatly looking forward to plugging in at East with our students.”

Williams is also helping with East’s current musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

Williams said the class is a great opportunity for East and the district as a whole.

“I think this is a huge, huge step for the Green Bay School District, because it’s going to open up so many different avenues, and it’s going to allow for more equitable teaching and more diversified teaching,” he said. “I believe that it’s going to reach a vast amount of people, not only in the Green Bay area, but all the way to the Fox Valley.”

He said it’s important to support the arts.

“I think that it’s super important for us to start advocating for the performing arts and dance in a sense that, you know, it is something that you can grow your life off of, and it can stem into so many different avenues,” Williams said.

Students participating in any FAI class receive half of an elective credit each year for participating.

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