Malinda Jackson teaches dance at Baldwin Hills Elementary. We are always blown away by her powerful choreography and her students’ energy during their performances. We chatted with Malinda about her favorite P.S. ARTS memory and how she sees the positive influences of dance reflected in her students.
With dance, the students are the colors on the palette, the stage is the canvas
What inspires you as a choreographer?
I am inspired by the ability to communicate feelings, a mood, a story, or a message through the universal language of dance. Personally, I never considered visual arts as my greatest strength; I’ve always considered myself a “stick-figure artist.” With dance, the students are the colors on the palette, the stage is the canvas, and I use my paintbrush of creativity to create a piece of art that is enjoyed by both dancers and audiences alike. Before I create, I ask myself how I want the audience to feel…later, while the students are actually performing, I look out into the audience and I read their faces to see if they share those feelings. I enjoy creating lasting memories for my students and their families. I also like how dance can allow a student, who may not shine as brightly with core academic subjects or whose behavior does not always coincide with expected norms, to stand out.
I had a teacher who saw something in me at the age of 12. I had never taken a dance class in my life, nor did I have the body type of a typical dancer. She helped me tap into my inner dancer and brought out the passion in me that exists to this very day. I hope that my students see my face when they think of the teacher who made a difference in their lives through dance.
If your students have one main takeaway from your class, what would you like it to be?
In addition to boosting self-confidence, I would like my students to walk away with the joy that comes from dancing. Dancing has the power to boost happiness, reduce stress, and prompt emotional freedom. The release of feel-good endorphins has a way to influence their overall emotional, mental, and physical health.
I enjoy creating lasting memories for my students and their families.
Tell us about a memorable class/student/lesson.
A few years ago, I choreographed a tribute to the singing group New Edition. As a tween, they were my idols. Fast forward 30 years, I decided to have a group of boys perform to their music and recreate the iconic choreography from one of their music videos. When the boys performed for our school, the power of social media took over as parents posted the students’ performance on their platforms. Within a day or two, they had over a million views! About a week later as I scrolled through Facebook posts, a message popped in from New Edition’s manager who asked my students to perform WITH THEM at a concert near Palm Springs. After clearing it with the parents and district, we were on our way. I had the hardest time maintaining composure as these were MY TEEN IDOLS. The students barely knew who they were, only what I had taught them during rehearsals. This was their first concert and here they were sharing the stage with this legendary group! We had a photo-op, enjoyed our own dressing room with all the fixings, and felt like stars! It was an experience that neither the students nor I will ever forget!
Thank you, Malinda! 💜 Teaching artists like Malinda Jackson are a vital part of what makes P.S. ARTS programs succeed. Support our teaching artists here.