Roberta Wolin-Tupas has loved her long and distinguished career as a dancer, choreographer and instructor, but is particularly fired up about her latest project that has Santa Monica College students teaching elementary school children not only to dance but also to dance their curriculum.
Roberta Wolin-Tupas with Daniel Jimerson performing with R Dance Co.
SMC students who have completed The Teaching of Dance for Children certificate – a combination of Dance, Early Childhood Education and Psychology classes – do an internship at SMASH (Santa Monica Alternative School House) in Santa Monica. With the help and guidance of SMC Dance Department chair Judith Douglas, Wolin-Tupas, an adjunct dance professor on the main SMC campus and a modern dance instructor with SMC Community Education, created the program.
“SMASH is a progressive elementary school that encourages creativity and gives a lot of special attention to its students,” Wolin-Tupas said.
Recently, seven SMC student teachers were brought into the school to work with children in Kindergarten through second grades to help the youngsters dance based on subjects they have learned as well as introduce them to a variety of dance styles including modern, jazz, ballet, and Folklorico.
“The children dance every possible subject you can think of, from the solar system to life under the sea to history, art, literature and more,” Wolin-Tupas said. “In dancing, the learning of the subject is enhanced.
“The program was a complete success and SMASH has asked us to come back,” she added.
“I am thrilled at the success of our dance teacher certificate program that Roberta Wolin-Tupas created and leads,” said Dance Department Chair Douglas. “Roberta’s combination of expertise, patience and dedication is the recipe for her success. The SMC Dance Department is pleased to see this pathway to success starting with our teaching dance at SMASH to teaching over 580 fifth grade students for the entire Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District.”
Wolin-Tupas, a professional in the field of dance for over 40 years, has a B.A. in Literature from Reed College and M.A. in Choreography and Performance from UCLA. From 1999 to 2007, she was Producer of Marian Scott’s Spirit Dances series and was nominated for two Lester Horton Awards for Outstanding Production.
She is co-artistic director of R Dance Company and has created a large body of original, critically acclaimed modern dance works. Her choreography has been presented at Bergamot Station, Broad Stage, Highway Performance Space, Miles Playhouse, UCLA, Wilshire Ebell, California Choreographers Festival, Brand Library Modern Dance Series, and L.A. Open Festival.
Roberta Wolin-Tupas with Robert Whidbee performing with R Dance Co.
She served as co-artistic director of SMC’s Synapse Dance Theater and has presented choreography at American College Dance Association festivals. She was a faculty member at California State University, Los Angeles for 15 years and continues to teach at Glendale College, as well as SMC.
Wolin-Tupas said she is proud of her SMC students who completed their internships at SMASH. “They all do amazing and creative work with the children,” she said, “which include dance improvisations to stories, poems, songs and more. I couldn’t be happier.”
Roberta Wolin-Tupas will teach Beginning Modern Dance at SMC Community Education starting Jan. 2.