In its 40 years, Episcopal School of Dallas had never had a dance program.
That ended this fall, when the school’s fine art department hired a dance teacher and began to offer its students class credit in dance.
“It was just a huge gap in our fine-arts program,” said Dusty Davidson, chair of ESD’s fine-arts department. “It’s something we needed. I think it adds to all other aspects of the arts we have.”
At 7:30 a.m. Friday morning, four of the dance students were in the fine-arts building’s dance studio. They were doing their weekly yoga under the instruction of their dance teacher, Glen Dawson.
Friday mornings are when they decompress, Dawson said. The rest of the week is for preparing for a dance, whether they perform at an art gallery or in a flash mob with other students.
For Bailey Parsons, an 11th grader, ESD’s dance program is filling a void in her life.
“I’ve been dancing since I was 3,” she said. “When I came to high school, I stopped doing studio dance because I got too busy.”
Once rumors began swirling around ESD that there would possibly be a dance program, Parsons knew she wanted to participate.
“I like that it’s an option,” she said. “I don’t have to go back and forth between the studio and school, and it doesn’t conflict with my homework or other activities.”
Davidson said while the idea had been around for awhile, it was the new fine-arts building that pushed it one step further.
“The desire has been here for years. And then the building was built and there was a greater hope with actually having a dance studio that it was going to happen, but it’s never really come to happen,” he said. “So when I started as department chair, I started pushing for it more and had some conversations with [head of school] Meredyth Cole.”
Dawson’s dance students have learned and performed a number of routines, including a lyrical dance to “Amazing Grace,” a flash mob with ESD’s fifth-graders during lunch, and an interpretative dance at an art gallery.
The mixing of the arts is only natural, Dawson explained. Where there’s acting and singing and painting, there should also be dance.
“Dance is just part of performing arts,” she said. “Don’t get me on my soapbox, but you were dancing in your mother’s stomach before you ever came out.”