Socorro kids are ‘Rollin’ on the Rio’

This story was published by El Defensor Chieftain on December 14, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 8.39.21 AMSocorro school children rehearse a routine from last year’s NDI performance. This year’s performance is Friday at the Macey Center at New Mexico Tech.

The much anticipated fall NDI show is coming to Macey Center Friday, Dec. 11, with a song and dance extravaganza celebrating the rivers of the world called “Rollin’ On The Rio.”

The Santa Fe based National Dance Institute-New Mexico (NDI-NM) has been working with Socorro area students for the past three weeks in after school rehearsals. The kids have practiced their dance moves every day for an hour with their class, then a subset of kids are selected to be on the Super Wonderful Advanced Team (SWAT) and Celebration Team, and those kids practice even more every day.

The Broadway-type show features the entire fourth grade of the Socorro Consolidated School District, plus an additional 50 or so fifth through eighth graders.

Schools include Zimmerly Elementary, Parkview Elementary, San Antonio Elementary, Midway Elementary, Cottonwood Valley Charter School and Sarracino Middle School.

“Rollin’ on the Rio,” features original music, choreography and themes about the world’s rivers, water, culture and history, including the Rio Grande.

Directing is choreographer Hannah Foss, who said she can’t help but be excited with every new group of kids “no matter what the place.”

“Every show opening is always exciting,” Hannah said. “Yes, I cry when they perform on stage for the first time. To watch the kids progress is amazing. On the first day, they may be shy, or awkward or scared, but by the time they perform the show for the public they are confident.”

Hannah said the kids are good at following direction during the three weeks of dance sessions, but with such a large number, “sometimes during rehearsals they can get a little out of control. It’s not really a problem because NDI has proven techniques that get the kids back on track quickly.”

The NDI performance in Socorro is one of the most well attended show out of the 34 NDI residency communities in New Mexico.

According to its web site, NDI was formed in 1976 by ballet dancer Jacques d’Amboise, as a New York City non-profit dedicated to motivating public school children to strive for excellence through dance. In 1990 d’ Amboise brought NDI’s innovative program to Santa Fe. In 1994, Catherine Oppenheimer, a teacher with NDI in New York, relocated to Santa Fe to co-establish National Dance Institute of New Mexico.

Partnering with public schools throughout New Mexico, NDI-NM provides dance programs as part of each school’s regular curriculum. A certified NDI-NM instructor and professional pianist teach every class.

Locally, NDI-NM shows have been produced using students from Socorro and Magdalena and, occasionally, Alamo. In 2014-15, the NDI-NM Residency team will travel more than 27,000 miles this year to bring award-winning arts and physical education programs to over 9,100 children who perform in front of more than 78,500 audience members statewide.

“NDI-NM teaches excellence, discipline, team work, self-esteem, theatre, dance and music, physical fitness, healthy eating, and more than anything, to always ‘do your best.’ This is NDI’s 20th year in Socorro, one of their longest running residencies in New Mexico,” said Ronna Kalish, director of the Performing Arts Series at New Mexico Tech.

“It’s one of the most amazing performances you will ever see,” she said. “And the whole town comes out for it.”

NDI-NM teaches excellence, discipline, team work, self-esteem, theatre, dance and music, physical fitness, healthy eating, and more than anything, to always Do Your Best! This is NDI’s 19th year in Socorro, one of their longest running residencies in NM.

Tickets for the Friday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m. performance of “Rollin’ On The Rio” are $6 general admission. 17 and under are admitted free.

“We will have a few seats available for sale at the youth performances at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.,” Kalish added. “But the general public will have to wait until we have all students seated before they can pick out seats.”

NDI in Socorro is a partnership between Tech’s Performing Arts Series and Socorro Consolidated Schools, with funding from Don & Rosie Tripp, New Mexico Arts, McElvain Oil & Gas, Wells Fargo Bank, Walmart, Socorro County Alcohol & Drug Prevention and Econolodge.

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