First Moves Residency

Giving Students Their First Moves - The Cowles Center

Seward News by Elyse Chambers, Education Manager at the Cowles Center

March 2017 | Seward Montessori E1 (1st, 2nd and 3rd grade) students just participated in the First Moves residency during their weekly specialist time in Gym. The First Moves residency is made possible through a grant funded by AROHA Philanthropies. The goal of this program is to make dance accessible and affordable through a four-day residency with every first-grade student and PE teacher in the Minneapolis Public School district. The curriculum is designed to empower both students and teachers through creative movement concepts and vocabulary.

Each day of the residency has a different theme to explore. On day one, the teaching artist presents a mini solo as an introduction to themselves as not only a teacher but also a professional artist. Blake discusses the role of an audience member and invites the students to question what dance means to them. The main themes throughout the residency are:

Day One: What is dance?
Day Two: Why do we warm up?
Day Three: What is teamwork?
Day Four: What does it mean to be creative?

This will be The Cowles Center’s 2nd year working with Seward Montessori. We have been able to connect with students not only through the First Moves program, but also by bringing students to our theater in downtown Minneapolis for a Student Matinee. Bill Garner is a joy to work with in every aspect of the First Moves program. He truly understands what it means to co-teach and always isn’t afraid to get right in and dance along with the students.

Blake Nellis is a professional artist, educator and photographer in the Twin Cities community. His work is inspired by his experience with athletics, singing, acting, playing piano, photography and filmmaking. He is a 2015 recipient of the MN State Arts Board Grant Initiative and 2013 recipient of a grant from McKnight Foundation’s Metropolitan Reginal Arts Council. Blake has taught and performed throughout the US, Mexico, Europe and Asia and is proud to call Minneapolis home. His favorite moments are those in which laughter reminds us that play is valuable; and he strongly believes that riding a bicycle, eating good food and being curious, compassionate and creative are all well-integrated parts of being a good artist.

Watch footage of Seward students during last year’s residency: