The Drexel University Youth Performance Exchange is an umbrella organization that provides several outreach opportunities for students interested in informing and engaging young people through the art of dance.
During the spring term the YPT Residency Program assigns small groups of dancers to develop choreography with middle school students throughout the city. This weekly collaborative process fosters artistic development and culminates with a finished dance work to be presented at the Youth Performance Matinee in June.
Wheelchair Dance: HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy is a weekly project conducted in collaboration with dance/movement therapist Rachel Federman-Morales. The program partners dancers from Drexel with wheelchair bound teenagers with cerebral palsy for a yearlong process to create dances that will be presented at HMS and the Youth Performance Matinee.
The Youth Performance Matinee showcases all of the diverse and transformative dance works created through the Youth Performance Exchange. Presented in early June in the Mandell Theater, the students from the Residency Program and Wheelchair Dance perform for a sold-out audience of Philadelphia school students.
Youth Performance Exchange Touring Ensemble, comprised of 8-10 students, presents a 45-minute lecture/demonstration on the topic of “The Art of Modern Dance and the Role of the Choreographer,” which includes both performed choreography and audience participation. The ensemble members perform for the students and lead a series of improvisational structures, facilitating a communal experience for the young movers, and then the assembly concludes with a question and answer session. The Touring Ensemble models its curriculum after the South Street Dance Company’s Young Audiences Ensemble created by Ellen Forman.
Learning and developing the performance material occurs during the Fall term, and touring to the schools happens in the Winter and Spring terms on Friday mornings, making the Touring Ensemble a year-long commitment. It is a rewarding experience with 20-40 performances, and an opportunity to give many elementary and middle school students valuable exposure to modern dance and a meaningful exploration of movement, as well as allowing each ensemble member to discover and cultivate their own talents as a performers and educators.
Aside from the extracurricular outreach opportunities, some course work within the dance program may include civic engagement, such as DANC 340 Dance Pedagogy’s involvement with the Lindy Scholars Program.
Also in Dance