Dancing With Words

Now available!

The Dance Foundation launches the first in a series of episodes being created for classroom teachers to use with elementary grade students as fun reinforcement of foundational language elements. DWW full press release below.


Explore how to build a story through dance! The Dance Foundation’s newest on-demand, digital teaching tool employs our arts integration curriculum, “Dancing with Words: academic support for Language Arts.” Dancing With Words focuses on K-2nd language arts standards to build “story-ography,” in an active and engaging method for learning.

Integral to this project is the generous support of the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA) and sponsor PNC.  Special thanks Diana Green with ASCA and to Brian Collins and Atomic Pictures for his expertise.

Please view this video with your students and share your feedback in a brief survey – HERE.  You also have the option to give us your contact information in the survey, if you would like to be notified of future episodes.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / Media contact:  Shellie Chambers, 870.0073

The Dance Foundation Turns Dancing With Words Program Into A Digital Teaching Tool

April 20, 2021, BIRMINGHAM AL – The Dance Foundation (TDF) launches the first in a series of episodes being created for classroom teachers to use with older elementary grade students as fun reinforcement of foundational language elements.

For the past several years, Dance Foundation teaching artists have been taking the “Dancing With Words” (DWW) program into schools, teaching in person.  Then, Covid interrupted the growing success of the program.  TDF Artistic Director Rachael Inman got right to work on continuing DWW via Zoom and soon decided that an on-demand digital video might be even more helpful for teachers because of the flexibility of use that it provided them.

Inman got to work writing the script, and teaching artist Stephanie Murphy collaborated with Justin Wallace to create original music and lyrics. Brian Collins of Atomic Pictures shot and edited the pilot Episode One.

Starting today, the video is on YouTube in hopes it will be shared and reach as many educators and parents as possible. Feedback from teachers is encouraged via a brief survey linked in the video. Inman hopes comments will guide future episodes of “Dancing With Words.”

TDF Executive Director Diane Litsey said,

“We see Dancing With Words as an active, fun, integrated approach to building language arts proficiency.  Through dance, students explore what a preposition is, parts of a story,  adverbs…these are made tangible through physicalizing the concepts and information.  And the learning is fun, collaborative, and cultivates social skills and curious learners.”

The Dance Foundation has a long history of teaching students in the Birmingham community who are considered fragile underserved, or marginalized.  And dance is a positive and effective way to learn anything.  DWW grew out of a pilot program TDF began a number of years ago with students in Hoover City Schools learning English as a second language when classroom teachers shared that students – not only ESL students – were in need of language arts support to build skills and work towards reading on grade level. This was especially needed for K-2nd graders as they prepare for 3rd grade and proficiency assessments. Therefore, the program evolved over seven years into DWW which is designed to be more collaborative with both the teachers and students’ needs, including social skills.

According to educators and “Dancing With Words” teaching artists, notable outcomes of this program have been increased body awareness including a deeper understanding of self-space and general space, improved confidence in general as well as academically, ability to identify parts of speech and sequence words, a better understanding and ability to convey chosen vocabulary words, a greater willingness to participate in new activities, and a greater ability to work together.

Dance Foundation Artistic Director Rachael Inman said,

After participating in DWW’s we have seen students more eager to come to school as well as an increase in their overall engagement with their peers and the classroom setting.  We have seen a substantial increase in teachers’ enthusiasm once they see what we can accomplish with their students in such a short time.  Through such an untraditional approach to learning that engages both the body and the mind our program has the power to reinvigorate and inspire students and teachers alike.

DWW curriculum is linked to the Alabama Course of Study in Arts Education as well as the Alabama Course of Study in English Language Arts with focus on:  speaking and listening standards (ie: AL.SL.2) and language standards (ie: AL.L.2).  Schools that have participated in the program include Hall Kent’s RISE, Wylam Elementary, Phillips Academy, Norwood Elementary, Gwin Elementary, Green Valley Elementary, Avondale Elementary, Glen Iris Elementary, Washington Elementary, YWCA summer program, and Bush K-8.

ESL Teacher V. Crittenden said,

“One thing that stood out was the fact that the kindergarteners learned about social-emotional aspects of school such as asking for and providing space rather than getting into an argument in line. That can be a big deal, since for many it is their first experience of school. The Dance Foundation has helped reach goals for our students by providing a kinesthetic learning experience that they really enjoy! The program helped them identify parts of speech, for example (2nd grade) & helped the kindergartners with social skills as well as academics. In addition, the dance, music & motion are a more fun, relaxed way to learn and help the students to feel that they are in a safe environment to try new things.”

DWW is supported, in part, by the Alabama State Council on the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts. The Dance Foundation is a non-profit organization supported by generous corporations, foundations and individuals that provides dance education to hundreds of students each week through a Studio Program and hundreds more in its Community Partnership Program.  Their studios are also home to dozens of artists and arts organizations for classes, workshops, rehearsals and performances.  The Dance Foundation has been a gathering place for learning with and through dance for more than 45 years.