The HBA Visual and Performing Arts Department introduced dance as a new elective program for middle school students. The department launched this addition at the beginning of the second semester, providing students with the opportunity to experience a new aspect of performing arts.

Sean Malinger, the Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair, has long hoped for the opportunity to provide a dance option for students. “We have a specific strain in our [department’s] goals that talks about art, music, theater, [and] dance, so we feel like dance is a natural part of what it is to be human,” Malinger said. “[The new dance elective] actually gives us an opportunity to show people perhaps how to dance and how to experience the art of what it is to be human in a historical perspective, in a cultural perspective, and also in a Christian perspective.” He also stated that “as a parent who has spent lots of money on dance,” the addition of this program allows students to continue practicing their extracurricular activity in a convenient location while taking some financial strain off parents.

Terrie Poore, the instructor of the new dance program, joined HBA at the beginning of the second semester. Poore started dancing at the age of three due to a recommendation from her doctor. “My doctor told [my mom] that I had flat feet and that if I would be put into ballet then I might develop some arches,” Poore said. Eventually, her doctor’s orders became a lifetime passion, and she has since trained in the styles of ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and musical theater jazz. Poore attended Columbia College and Texas Christian University to get her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in dance. After graduating, she started a dance program at the University of the Americas in Mexico as well as at Anderson University, where she served as Director of Dance for 15 years. She also spent time as a missionary in Mexico alongside her husband Charles Poore, who is the Christian Ministries Coordinator at the high school.

Now Poore brings her expertise to the HBA classroom – or in this case, the dance studio. “I usually like to teach a Cunningham style modern class,” Poore said. Cunningham style, created by Merce Cunningham, integrates rhythm, space, strength, and flexibility. This combination of concepts enables dancers to move each part of their body in a way that complements the rest, telling a story through movement. Poore employs this method by starting her classes with a thorough warmup followed by center exercises like tendus and rond de jambes. Next, participants engage in across-the-floor exercises and dance combinations that challenge students to “think and dance at the same time.”

Poore (center) adjusts a student’s dance position during dance class. Photograph by Brendan Aoki (’24).

Poore’s class currently has three students, all of whom have prior dance experience. Seventh grader Reese Lueder has been dancing for ten years. “I am really enjoying [the program] so far,” she said. “I have been dancing for a long time and I’m overjoyed I get to continue doing it at school.”

Lueder’s classmate, Sadie Shiroma, shares Lueder’s enthusiasm. Shiroma has four years of dance experience, and she is eager to improve through the dance program. She hopes to “advance and learn new things.” She is especially enthusiastic about the physical benefits of the elective. “I like being able to move after a long day of classes,” Shiroma explained.

Ryleigh Sakai, an eighth grade student who is also in the program, has been dancing for two years. For her, the new dance program is “a great opportunity to get more dance exposure.” “It has been so nice to connect with the other students through this program,” Sakai said. “I am excited to grow and learn new skills throughout the semester.” Sakai also praised the program’s outreach: “It gives students new opportunities to try out new electives as well as trying something out of their comfort zone.”

According to Poore, the program is also a great way to strengthen dancers’ love for the art, for the community, and for Jesus. “It’s really honestly just to bring glory to him using the gifts and talents that he gives us to then give back to him,” Poore shared. “Currently we’re working on praise songs to possibly be able to share with others.”

In the future, Malinger and Poore hope to create a showcase for students in the dance program and they hope that will spark more interest in the art form among the student body. The course is open to all levels, so middle school students with no prior training are able to sign up.