38th Annual National Dance Institute Dance Event

By Kevin Young

The National Dance Institute held its 38th annual dance event at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, June 16. Founded in 1976 out of Harlem has served as a beacon of light for children of all socioeconomic levels to learn dance which fosters academic excellence, confidence, and fun. Since then NDI has even extended a branch into Shanghai. NDI currently teaches over 6,000 children in all of its locations.

This year’s benefit event was a Chinese culture themed performance. Tilted Under One Sky NDI Dances China, featured a whole ensemble of children from the NYC branch in addition to 25 children from Minhang. This show also included the anomalous pipa, and erhu, exclusive instruments in the Chinese culture.

“It’s about friends in distant lands exploring cultural differences and celebrating our common humanity under one sky.” says Executive Director, Kathy Landau. These kids really showcased their skill and precision in their dance movements. They ranged from ages 5 and up. They also wore elaborate costumes such as traditional Chinese dresses. They demonstrated the beauty and uniqueness of the Chinese culture through movement. To someone who knows nothing about the culture you’ll definitely learn after watching these acts.

The opening act, Morning In The Park, had a peaceful tai-chi type of vibe to it as these kids performed alongside seniors. It combined elements of modern contemporary dance with traditional tai-chi movements passed down generation to generation. It’s a stark contrast as the elderly and youth combined forces to produce art.

One of the most enjoyable skits of the night was the inclusion of the two foolish pandas. Well these two didn’t really dance in costume yet they were entertaining nonetheless from wheeling each other around in a wagon to writing han-zi or traditional Chinese characters. These two stole the show. Who knew eating bamboo could look so cute.

Speaking of bamboo, the act that really stood out was Bamboo Hip-Hop. They turned something so embedded in Chinese culture into a powerful, eye-catching, hip-hop routine. Combined with elements of locking and popping, while wearing traditional Chinese farmer attire, these kids really showed off their stuff. They were in perfect sync with each other and the music. It was evident that these kids practiced hard to really nail the moves.

The program ended with all of the kids coming on stage together wearing a tirade of colors while uplifting the crowd with their smiles and they just genuinely look happy performing for everyone. The crowd’s immediate response resonated throughout the whole auditorium. A frenzy of roars and camera flashes filled the room. NDI proved that dance can really make a difference in a kid’s life. I’m anticipating future performances from these talented kids.

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