"I had no idea you could do that!" says John Selya to Taylor Johnson-French, a freshman who has just executed a fiercely intentional and riveting passage of improv. Zooming like an arrow down a hallway lined with giant, neon coral sculptures, she looked to be seeking a target with her focus and the precise lines and angles of her limbs.
"I didn't either!" Johnson-French responds.
This exchange is one of many moments of empowerment and facilitated self-discovery from Selya's first semester as the dance chair at New Mexico School for the Arts in Santa Fe, a public, statewide high school, where the arts disciplines (visual arts, music, theater and dance) are taught in daily three-hour intensives that follow the academic day. Founded as a charter school in 2010, the program is open to all students in New Mexico who qualify through a blind, competitive audition or portfolio admissions process.