Ballet performance closes Challenge unit

BY MACK SPENCER

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The dancers of the Tupelo Ballet took the stage at Milam Elementary School on Thursday to give students a sampling of music and dance from the 19th century to the 21st.

Classic scenes and variations from Tchaikovsky's “Swan Lake” and LZo DZlibes' “Coppelia” intermingled with scenes from the movie “Center Stage” and Beatles music performed in 17th and 18th century Baroque style.

“This is all part of a unit called Larger Than Life,'” said Milam Challenge teacher Becky Shands. “We use music and art as the keys to open the centuries. This started with an AEE grant in 1999, and it's just grown every year.”

With the first year of the unit in 2000, fifth-graders studied the 19th century. The next year, fifth-graders did the same and the sixth-graders studied the 20th century.

When fourth grade was added to the school the following year, the Challenge teachers decided to add a mini-unit on the 18th Century.

While the studies focus on music and art, the unit ties in the social and political movements of the day.

“If you can take new information and tag it to the familiar É (the students') understanding is better,” teacher Nancy Barrett said.

The ballet performance was given in a lecture and demonstration format facilitated by Sharon Long, director of the Tupelo Ballet.

Long has a granddaughter at Milam.