Books in Motion

Books in Motion is a new program by Kern Dance Alliance that encourages literacy through dance. Early readers watch a dance interpretation of a book, learn the choreography to dance it themselves and complete a themed craft. At the end, kids will talk about what they learned. The program has seven remaining performances.

Courtesy of Kern Dance Alliance

The folks at Kern Dance Alliance believes that just about anything is possible through dance. The organization has already shown how dance can help with math through its SHINE for Girls program, and more recently it held a special danceABILITY session to prove disability doesn't have to stop anyone from dancing.

The latest KDA program will tackle dance and literacy, with some help from the Kern County Library and Kern Literacy Council. Through "Books in Motion," early readers will watch a dance interpretation of beloved children's books performed by KDA dancers, learn the choreography themselves and complete a book-themed craft. At the end, kids will be split into small groups to discuss what they learned.

The series kicked off last week with activities centered around "Pete the Cat," a book that follows the eponymous cat as his favorite white shoes get dirty and change colors. The next few dates will focus on "Where the Wild Things Are" and take place at different libraries around Kern County. 

The first event, held at Beale Memorial Library last Friday, had 150 participants, while Monday's event at Wilson Library Branch saw 40 participants.

"Both sessions have gone great and have been well received," said Andrea Hansen, KDA president. "I overheard a parent telling one of the library staff that Books in Motion was the most entertaining experience she had at the library to date! All of the participants were very engaged and seemed to enjoy all aspects, from the performance to the choreography and crafting."

This is the first Books in Motion, but Hansen actually had the idea 11 years ago as a grad student at the University of Arizona. The program itself was kicked into motion by a phone call from Sherry Wade, at Beale Library, who had heard of the success of the alliance's SHINE program and hoped to collaborate on a reading and dance project, Hansen said. 

The young dancers leading each event come from Dancer's Turnout Academy, Downtown Dance Arts and Mojave Movement and Arts Center, and the program is funded by the Bakersfield Californian Foundation, Arts Council of Kern, Terra-Gen Windfarm and Golden Queen Mining.

There are seven more performances, with the next one at the Mojave Branch Library on June 28.

"Gauging from the smiles from the children, I'd say it has been very successful," Hansen said.

Kelly Ardis can be reached at 661-395-7660. Follow her on Twitter at @TBCKellyArdis.

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