Olympic Ballet Theatre’s dancers spend hundreds of hours perfecting technique in the studio and on stage. Recently, they stepped away from the rehearsals to bring the joy of dance into local classrooms and to delight elementary school students with an exciting introduction to ballet steps, terminology, and classical music.

On January 11, OBT’s dance outreach program at Meadowdale Elementary School introduced ballet to 80 3rd and 4th-grade students. Smiles, laughter, excited conversations, and cheers filled the classroom as the dancers demonstrated their flexibility and strength with splits, captivating the young audience. Students were particularly excited to see a male professional dancer, breaking gender stereotypes about ballet.

OBT dancers lead 4th grade Meadowdale Elementary School students in a stretch warm-up

The transformative power of ballet continued long after the hour-long class. “Many students seemed happier and had a positive attitude through the rest of the day. There was a “buzz” and chatter after the class on how much fun they had,” said Meadowdale Elementary teacher and Olympic Ballet Theatre board member Kelly Hui. She noticed that even students who at times are restless and have difficulty paying attention, were fully engaged and present during the dance class.

More than just a class, OBT’s outreach program creates a transformative experience, bringing joy, positivity, and an appreciation for the arts to students. “It is important to me as a teacher to expose students to dance because it supports their learning through movement, communication, accessibility, and expression through the arts, accessibility. This program builds confidence, supports friendships, and it’s so much fun!” said Kelly.

Claudia, a parent, expressed gratitude to OBT dancers, noting that her daughter Annie found the experience “cool, very interesting, and really liked it.” Annie was particularly impressed that one of the dancers was fluent in Spanish and was able to connect with a Spanish-speaking classmate.

Such initiatives underscore the importance of integrating creative and expressive forms of education into traditional learning environments, leaving a lasting impact on young minds. OBT is grateful to the Foundation for Edmonds School District for supporting the outreach program and is looking forward to bringing ballet to more classrooms this year.