Queensborough Community College Dance Students Take Big Step in Their Future Careers Through Battery Dance Arts in Education Program

Published: February 29, 2024

group of female dancers on stage

Student internships are common. Paid student internship opportunities are available in certain fields of study, but it is rare that paid career training and internships are offered to students in the performing arts, in this case dance students.

But thanks to Battery Dance established in 1984, students are being offered paid teacher training and internship opportunities at public schools in New York City that can be a launching pad to a viable career in the world of dance. Currently, Queensborough’s dance program is partnering with Battery Dance in these special projects.

“This is quite an honor and a fantastic opportunity to break the myth that majoring in dance, or the performing arts in general, cannot translate to a rewarding well-paid career,” said Aviva Geismar, Associate Professor, Department of Health, Physical Education and Dance at Queensborough. “Our dance students, who are still pursuing their associate degrees, are already being paid to take an essential step in their own growth as both professional dancers and instructors. “

Four second year Queensborough dance majors have been selected to participate in the program: Katrina Weeks, Liz Grande, Elaine Alvear and Crishna King. Katrina and Liz have already taught a series of classes at the Art and Business High School in Corona, Queens. Crishna and Elaine will co-teach in the program during Queensborough’s spring break.

Katrina looks forward to owning her own dance studio and working for the NYC Department of Education (DOE). She is committed to offering high quality dance education in communities of color where there is not always access. She said that co-teaching and planning a curriculum can be a challenge, but that her mentors and classmates have inspired her to be bold, to be herself, to understand that a simple act can be powerful.

Liz was painfully shy growing up. “I always had a deep seeded love for dance, but I was too timid to express myself on stage.” At Queensborough she has opened up. “There was a time when coming forward in a classroom was something I thought I could never do.”  

Crishna King, who commutes four hours a day total from her home in Manhattan to Queensborough and back, came to the U.S. from her home country of Brazil in 2018.  “I realize that teaching is about teaching yourself. Dance empowers me to overcome my language barrier to share with others who I am and my life experiences.”

“The QCC teaching artist trainees are not teaching just one style—they are giving students tools to express themselves through dance. This is a teaching method we call ‘Dancing to Connect,’ helping students find their own expression, not something they see on Tic Tok,” said Professor Geismar. “The structure is two Queensborough dance students in one high school classroom with either me or a Battery teaching artist observing,”

Last summer Clement Mensah, from Battery, and Professor Geismar led a week-long intensive with the Queensborough students where Mensah and Geismar took the role of teaching artists and led the QCC students through the learning process, as if they were high school students, but considering their stronger ability and background in the field. The Queensborough students developed their own work and performed it in the Battery dance festival, just as the high school students will this year. Starting in the fall, Mensah and Geismar held a series of classes at Queensborough that explored the teaching process in detail to prepare the teacher trainees for their teaching. First year Queensborough dance majors volunteered to participate in the classes as students, so the teacher trainees could experience working with students who did not already know the activities, and so the upcoming class of dance majors could have an introduction to this unique extra-curricular program.

Queensborough Community College Dance Program is on par with the most highly regarded dance programs in the country. It was the third community college in the nation to receive accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), and QCC students have consistently been honored by being selected to perform in the American College Dance Association regional gala concerts.


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