Cameras flashed at the Roosevelt House at Hunter College on Wednesday evening, accompanied by a host of smiles and the buzz of excited conversation. The occasion? The first-ever public screening of PS DANCE!, a documentary about dance education programs in five New York City public schools.
Dance educators, administrators, advocates and admirers filed in to see the long-anticipated film. The familiarity and affection between the audience members was palpable. Old friends reunited, past collaborators exchanged greetings and one name seemed to be on everyone’s lips: “Jody.”
Dressed in a sleek navy blue cocktail dress, Jody Gottfried Arnhold was the belle of the ball. As director of NYC’s Dance Education Laboratory, Arnhold has worked tirelessly on PS DANCE! for the past two years. The film is a labor of love in her lifelong mission of dance advocacy.
Heartfelt introductions by Hunter College President Jennifer Raab and Commissioner of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Tom Finkelpearl gave way to a standing ovation as Arnhold was called to the podium. Graciously accepting the praise, she introduced the film, finishing with a resounding, “Dance for every child!”
Because of my love for dance and pedagogy, I expected to enjoy the film, but I was not prepared for how much PS DANCE! would captivate me. For the next 53 minutes, I sat transfixed as I listened to the stories of NYC children who have been moved by the dance education programs in their schools. They spoke of their increased feelings of self-worth, motivation, creativity and fun, all because of dance. To say that I was inspired would be an understatement. The film expertly depicts the benefits of a dance education, and it serves as a great first step toward a future in which every child has access to dance.
PS DANCE! airs on THIRTEEN, NYC's PBS channel, on Sunday, May 15. After, it will be available for online streaming at http://www.thirteen.org/programs/thirteen-specials/.
As one middle school student so aptly said in the film, “Dance is such a smart way to learn.” I couldn’t agree more.
Here's the trailer: