In Department of Dance, Experiential Learning

BYU Alumnus Shaun Parry not only gives back to the community, but shows students how they can as well. Dance Education student, Kyla Threlfall, had the opportunity to work with Shaun Parry in India as she volunteered for Promethean Spark International, the organization Parry founded. She spent the winter semester of 2014 teaching dance, using methodology Parry taught her.

Threlfall first heard of Parry’s India program because her sister was in Parry’s ward in New York City. She shared the information with Threlfall, knowing her interest in dance education, and Threlfall jumped on the opportunity to volunteer.

Threlfall’s experience led her to teaching classes at a boarding school in Tamul Nadu for kids from kindergarten to ninth grade. She was the only one teaching the dance classes while other volunteers focused on medical assistance and other service projects. She worked closely with Parry on implementing life skills into dance lessons.

“We would try role plays of figuring out how I would add in a life skill to a simple movement,” Threlfall said.

Traditional Dancer

Kyla: “This is a traditional Bharathanatyam piece some of the girls performed. It is the state dance in Tamil Nadu.”

From this experience Threlfall learned how to be vocal about what the students were learning. She explained that if an exercise required teamwork, she would make sure the students knew that what they were doing was exhibiting teamwork. She used this to have them think of ways to use teamwork in their everyday lives.

“The performing arts inherently teaches life skills, sometimes they just needed help recognizing it,” she said.

In India, society tells people with leprosy that they cannot do anything worthwhile in their life because they are “untouchable,” Threllfall said. Parry showed her the importance of changing that perception.

“He taught me that a major part of my job was … to let them know that with hard work they can accomplish their dreams,” Threllfall said.

As a Dance Education major, Threlfall hopes to implement the teachings from this experience in her future career. Her philosophy goes beyond creating good dancers, but creating good people.

“After learning from Shaun, I now have a foundation to use with my future students,” she said.

FEATURE PHOTO: Kyla Threlfall and the LifeDance Company.
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