Transformative Performing Arts and Mentorship Pedagogy: Nurturing Developmental Relationships in a Multidisciplinary Dance Theatre Program for Youth

Kevin M. Kane


A multidisciplinary dance and theatre arts program geared for high school-aged youth can result in both short-term and the long-term outcomes for its students if it seeks to offer a life-changing peak experience as part of the arts training and performance process. By integrating a combination of dance, movement, theater, music, creative and reflective writing, as well as identity exploration and creative collaborations, performing arts programs can provide participants an experience that is truly transformative. In particular, such a program can help initiate and support meaningful mentoring and developmental relationships. A summer performing arts program set at a university site is an ideal opportunity to implement a sequence of strategic creative and social activities that offer high school youth daily activities that can establish a foundation for these significant relationships to emerge. By including college-aged program counselors who attended the program when they were in high school, acting as “step-ahead” peers, a program model such as this one provides potent possibilities for burgeoning leaders and mentors to emerge and meaningful relationships to take hold. Furthermore, the performance material generated in such a program can directly represent the personal evolutions of the students and the developmental relationships that are originated throughout the program’s creative and social processes. This article uses the UCLA Summer High School Dance Theater Intensive program as a case study of a progressive, multidisciplinary, summer performing arts program that positions the initiation of developmental relationships as one of its core values.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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