Page 20 - FIS World
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The Face of Dance at FIS
Helen Balfour (pictured center) with dancers in Studio 186
Dance is very much a prominent and visible part of the FIS curriculum these days, with dance shows, lessons and assembly performances appearing as
anticipated highlights of the year. Dance at FIS gained a new face ten years ago and that was Helen Balfour. Hailing from New Zealand, Ms. Balfour became an inspiration to young students, many of whom had never danced a step in their lives. Previously, dance of di erent genres had been part of the after-school activities and at times incorporated into FIS theater performances, but it had never been given a structure or become part of the Upper School curriculum.
I believe  rmly that dance and drama are indispensable vehicles of expression and thus need to be an integral part of education for students of all levels.
There are prerequisites for any curricular dance program, like space, administrative support, enthusiastic students and opportunities to perform, all of which FIS had. However, it was Ms. Balfour’s passion and experience which turned a Tuesday after-school dance class into Dance as a subject in its own right and a legitimate learning area. Ms. Balfour came well-equipped to include dance as a formal subject having not only performed and taught dance in Australia and New Zealand, but also having served on a national task force in New Zealand whose goal was to develop and incorporate dance into the national school curriculum.
Not only is Dance currently an elective in Grades 9–10 at FIS, Dance and Drama is mandatory for Grade 8 students. What speaks for the high quality of the Dance Program at
18 FIS World May 2017
FIS is the fact that Dance became an IB subject in 2014, with the  rst four students achieving some of the highest pass rates out all IB subjects o ered in 2016 – and with more student success to come this year. The program has become increasingly visible due to the annual performances which started out modestly as Dance in the Studio, an informal sharing of student choreography, but which has blossomed over the years into a celebration of dance using themes with titles like Beyond Imagination, Home and Catalyst.
These big dance shows initiated an exploratory process of movement, ideas, self-expression, and collaboration in response to a concept. The results were highly professional in terms of lighting, staging, costumes and atmosphere. What made Ms. Balfour especially proud was the determination and passion of her students, enabling them to display strong technical skills and creative expression, honest, integrity and collaboration with others, despite being amateurs.
Other collaborative dance experiences Ms. Balfour has initiated within FIS have seen her integrate dance within learning programs in other sections of the school. For example, Primary School students have visited Studio 186 and learned how to interpret their art work through dance, and Grade 2 children used dance as a method of expressing emotions and feelings.
As Ms. Balfour prepares for a new chapter in her life, she re ects upon the past ten years, and is convinced that the greatest asset to the FIS Dance Program is our students. She hopes that their vitality and love of performance will help keep dance alive at FIS in the years to come under the capable guidance of incoming Dance teacher Mr. Gregg.
Vera Thiers
Manager of Marketing and Outreach

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