J.T. Barber and Atlantic Dance Theatre 1993-1996
I. The Master’s Program: After a performance by ADT dancers at J.T. Barber Elementary School, their Visual Arts Instructor Penny King, with the approval of Principal, Dr. Gerald Johnson, asked Atlantic Dance Theatre to bring more dance to the school with a special project in mind: The Master’s Program, A collaborative visual art and dance program in which students analyzed paintings and interpreted them with modern dance. This was performed for the school in assemblies, evening performances for the public, and at other elementary schools as well as for the Board of Education and multiple performances for the Board of the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC. This program was awarded the Governor’s Programs of Excellence in Education award.
The most striking aspect of the program was the degree of sophisticated analysis the students did of the painting and choreographic process. In performance the students were fully absorbed in conveying the meaning or message of each work. The professionalism they showed in touring rivaled ADT’s adult dancers.
A group of students participated in an afternoon marketing analysis to promote their evening concert and learned to write press releases, one of which was published in the Sun Journal.
II. J. T. Barber and Atlantic Dance Theatre’s After School Dance Program
We had such a good experience with The Master’s that JTB and ADT started an afterschool dance program attended by two large classes of boys and girls and built a dance studio in the garage.
III. Special guest teachers, choreographers and performers.
Mel Tomlinson, principal dancer with NYCB. He taught a guest dance class and performed for JTB students as well as a master class for area dance students.
Hazel Collins, a resident of Beaufort, taught JTB dancers an African dance she learned in Africa using soda cans as musical instruments. This dance was a hit in performances On Tour at other elementary schools.
Paige Whitley-Bauguess and Thomas Baird performed baroque dance for JTB students and Tom taught a ballet class. Note: Baroque dance is of the same time period as New Bern’s Tryon Palace. In that day, to be accepted in society and invited to Tryon Palace, a knowledge of social dance was required and visiting dance masters came to New Bern to teach the social dances.
IV. Evening Concert in 1996: ECU faculty member Patti Weeks joined us for a public evening concert for held at J.T. Barber. She contributed two modern dance works she choreographed for her dance group of ECU dance graduates. Paige Whitley-Bauguess and Tom Baird and musicians also performed two works on the program. Alan Arnett, ECU faculty member choreographed a seven-minute work for JT Barber students that received tremendous applause from the audience.
Jane Peele, professional dancer and certified dance educator taught a summer workshop for JTB dancers. Soon thereafter, Jane was hired by JTB as a full-time dance faculty member and ADT went on to other projects.