Norwich Arts Center presents ''Dancing our Heritage'' with LaShawn Cunningham in afterschool program

The Norwich Arts Center has been selected by the Norwich Public Schools to present a virtual afterschool enrichment experience as part of NPS’s Extended Learning program. LaShawn Cunningham, Founder and Director of the Norwich nonprofit Blooming into Greatness and a member of the NAC Board, will direct and teach the program: “Dancing Our Heritage.” 
Dancing Our Heritage, which begins online on April 5, is open to students in grades 2-5 from all the city’s elementary schools. Interested students and parents should sign up with the Extended Learning Site Coordinator at the student’s school: registration is limited to 25.

The online program is designed to introduce the cultural heritage of several communities within the Greater Norwich area, combining dance, movement, and drumming with story-telling and music. Instructors who are members of these communities will teach traditional folk dances from Africa, the African Diaspora including Haiti, and Native America and through these dances demonstrate the importance of the arts in preserving and conveying culture. 

Students will learn the dances at home, hear the music associated with the dances, and hear folktales from NAC Vice-President Faye Ringel, Professor Emerita of English at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, along with guest story-tellers about the cultures from which the dances originate. Students will respond to these stories through visual arts, music, writing, and speaking. In addition, students will create rhythm instruments from household objects and join in with African drumming and other lively percussion sessions. 

As culminating activities, students may present their work to their fellow-students in their school classrooms; in addition, students will be offered the opportunity to join with the members of Blooming into Greatness at outdoor public performances planned for this summer. 
About the Norwich Arts Center
The Norwich Arts Center is an all-volunteer run non-profit organization located in a historic building at 60-64 Broadway in downtown Norwich, housing two galleries, now open for limited hours, and the Donald L. Oat Theater, which has been closed since the start of the pandemic but plans are in place to reopen in May.