Let’s Dance! LEAP’s Partnership with the Santa Barbara Dance Institute

Let’s Dance! LEAP’s Partnership with the Santa Barbara Dance Institute

Movement, dance and play isn’t just fun, research shows that is helps improve memory, language, attention, emotional regulation and decision making. That’s why LEAP has formed a partnership with the Santa Barbara Dance Institute (SBDI) since 2021, aimed at fostering movement and dance activities at our Children’s Center. 

“Overall the pandemic had a big impact and fallout – I’ve seen it first hand though it is getting better,” said Rosalina Macisco, Founder of SBDI, “I saw a lot of flat-lining faces when I interacted with the children. Almost like they were looking at a screen and not realizing they are right there.” 

SBDI’s dance program aims to transform passive observers into doers and movers through interactive movement and play. Over the past two years, SBDI has taken the lead in conducting dance sessions within classrooms as well as at our monthly family fiestas. The instructors teach in both English and Spanish, which fosters students’ language skills and provides a welcoming learning environment. Their trauma informed, culturally relevant, and multilingual approach encourages children to harness their imaginations, stokes their curiosity, and nurtures interpersonal connections. 

“I think this is all part of being inclusive and embracing our differences,” Rosalina noted. “Using a word in Spanish, or a word in another language from a country where a child is from, while you are teaching the dance creates that really welcoming, safe environment for everyone to learn.” 

This year, we are excited to incorporate even more dance through SBDI’s professional development program for our Children Center teachers. Rosalina will provide training, resources, and tools for teaching movement that our educators can integrate into their curriculums. 

“This is an effort toward sustainability. Rather than SBDI staff coming one a week, we wanted to get this into the teachers’ capacity so dance and movement is integrated into LEAP in a full way,” shared Rosalina. 

“The dance and movement doesn’t require equipment, buying instruments, or building a stage. It’s so accessible. I am really enjoying doing professional development because it feels really good to share. I am excited to work with LEAP and their teachers because of the big impact they have and work they are doing.” To learn more about the Santa Barbara Dance Institute, visit: www.sbdi.org

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