FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2004
CONTACTS: Kimberly Stark, (901) 333-4023 or Pat O'Brien, (901) 333-4021
Dancing with Distinction on the World Stage:
SOUTHWEST RESIDENT DANCE PROGRAM STUDENTS
SCORE HIGH WITH ROYAL ACADEMY OF DANCE
The standards are set by the Royal Academy of
Dance (R.A.D) in London. Professional and student ballet dancers worldwide
benchmark themselves on the R.A.D. syllabus, used by the most respected
ballet companies and schools in 85 countries.
And so do Dynisha Lee, Takeisha Washington, Journie Pewitt, and other
students in the Dance Works, Inc. dance program, housed at Southwest
Tennessee Community College in Memphis. Dynisha, 17, has been in the
program for two years; Takeisha, 13, for four years; and Journie, 8, for
"Scoring levels are Pass, Merit and Distinction. A couple of students got
Pass, most got Merit, and three – Dynisha, Takeisha and Journie – made the
Distinction level," states Karen Zissoff, founder and executive director
of Dance Works. The three designations conform roughly to A, B and C
grades, with students achieving the Distinction level performing well
above expectations for their age, years in the program, and pre-defined
individual goals plan.
Zissoff said grades this year are in line with achievements of previous
years, citing the high motivation of her students. "Many of them
(students) are from low-income families for whom the program is a rare
opportunity to receive instruction from internationally certified teachers
of dance." Grading is done by teams of ballet professionals who travel to
every school offering the R.A.D. program.
Goals are defined for each individual student at the beginning of the
year, and grading designations are based on an international percentile of
all students in R.A.D. programs. A complex set of technical standards are
assessed, grading is based on achievements against them. Students graded
with "pass" fall into the 40th to 55th percentile, students graded "merit"
are in the 56th to 74th percentile, and students achieving "distinction"
are in the 75th to 100th percentile.
Dance Works is a not-for-profit program, founded in 1987 and housed for
the last 10 years at Southwest's Union Avenue Campus. Its mission is "to
enrich through dance the lives of children who are underserved in the
arts." Funding from the Memphis Arts Council, along with other
contributions, helps to pay scholarships for many students who could not
otherwise participate. Students are four years old through college age.
The R.A.D. children's exam is accredited in England, Ireland and Scotland,
and soon to be in Europe, to allow students in high school to receive
credit that goes on their transcripts for their work in dance. Many high
schools in the UK, Canada and Europe offer the R.A.D. program states
Zissoff. The classes are not widely available in the U.S. "The grading
teams can complete their work in about two weeks travel here." she said.