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Dance Matters with Erin Leigh

Dance Matters, a contemporary dance company dedicated to creating cross-disciplinary work that engages, educates, and inspires audiences of all agesThe company is directed by Erin Leigh who is an ECM teaching artist.  ECM experiences can be tailored to meet different grade levels and curriculum standards. Using arts integration, students will learn kinesthetically and creatively, and make long-lasting connections with the curriculum.


                                                                 Teacher Quote about Dance Matters:

“Students in kindergarten all the way through 5th grade embraced this piece and learned something from it…. Weeks later, we were working on an activity in my class, and a student raised their hand to call out a connection they were making between what we were doing and the Dance Matters’ performance.  The dancing, stories, and content stuck with them.”  Bridget Corrigan, Dance Educator, Jenni Moore Elementary School


Sample Lessons:

Schools can select an Earthsongs performance as part of their ECM experience, or work with Erin Leigh independent of Dance Matters. Earthsongs is a contemporary dance performance that highlights curriculum connections between social studies, science, and dance, with an emphasis on habitat and environmental stewardship. With a unique blend of dance and storytelling, the 25-minute piece invites audiences of all ages to consider their relationship to the natural world and the role human activity has on the environment. World music, simplified costumes, and narration lets the audience focus on the movement and the message.

  • Students research animals in their SC habitat and create dances that reflect animal adaptations
  • Students study the challenges that plastic pollution has on sea turtles and create a flash mob to promote recycling and reusing
  • STEAM thinking is inspired by Mark Catesby, an artist and scientist, whose 18th century drawings of animals in their SC habitat help students understand early SC history
  • Stories and quotes from the Netsilik Eskimos, Aristotle, Gandhi, and Winnie the Pooh provide inspiration for student written stories about nature and animals
  • Student learn about dance by using the same strategies choreographers use of make dances


See video below:

The piece begins in a mythical time when people and animals coexisted peacefully. Dancers creatively interpret the movement of animals familiar to South Carolina, such as blue herons, rattlesnakes, dolphins, and white-tailed deer, against descriptions of the animal’s habitat and prose from the Netsilik Eskimos.

The second section focuses on today with quotations from Aristotle, Gandhi, and Winne the Pooh. The story of the Carolina Parakeet, warns of species extinction told through the eyes of English artist and scientist, Mark Catesby, known for his drawings of SC habitat. The stories of the snake and a child’s recollection of a moth cocoon reflect on the unintended consequences of human fear and curiosity. The story of the SC Sea Turtle Rescue Center celebrates the heroic efforts of humans committed to the survival of the natural world. The joyous finale celebrates the beauty in the movement of animals and encourages us to learn from the past and envision a future of peaceful coexistence.

Earthsongs was funded in part by the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts and the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs and the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Program through their joint administration of the Lowcountry Quarterly Art Grant Program and the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of SC.      




Teacher quotes cont’d:

“The performance was both an educational experience for the students at North Charleston Creative Arts, as well as an entertaining event, that provided students with the opportunity to learn while observing and participating.” Eric Hansen, Principal, North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary School

“I wanted to let you know how much myself and my 2nd grade class enjoyed the Earthsongs assembly.  In my 10 years of teaching I have never been to a performance that addressed our standards so directly.  It was obvious that they had done their research on not only the standards, but appropriate academic vocabulary.  I loved how they were able to say a word, then talk about what it meant, then show the meaning of the word through dance.  Awesome!!” Stephanie Grayson, Jenni Moore Elementary School