I believe that dance has the power to transform, enhance, and open the mind to new and different possibilities. Integrating dance into the traditional classroom setting helps children gain confidence, increases their memory, assists with their social developmental skills, and helps them to think more creatively, critically, and outside of the box. For me, it is important to work in the schools because I believe that children need as many positive role models and mentors as possible to support healthy development. I also believe that using dance as a tool for learning helps children to understand different logics and also to assist with independent thinking. Children become smarter because their brains are being targeted and challenged in a different way. As a dance teaching and performing artist, I believe in the importance of sharing the culture, knowledge and history of dance with under-served youth to enhance growth and development within their communities, while empowering them to make strong independent choices now and in their future.
The Valerie Branch Dance Ensemble has captivated students through dance from South Africa to Grenada. The ensemble introduces students to contemporary dance while exploring how to create and sustain relationships with peers, family, and communities. Students consider solutions to problems and how they can use their bodies to effectively communicate.
Valerie graduated magna cum laude from the University of Maryland College Park with a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance. She has experience touring as a performing and teaching artist both nationally and internationally. She has taught as an independent artist and with different organizations such as WPAS. As a teaching artist, Valerie has brought dance into schools in South Africa and St. George’s, Grenada and has received an invitation from the Danish Embassy to participate in a Cultural Arts Program Exchange Visit to Denmark. She is on the dance faculty at Greenbelt Community Center and New Hope Academy in Landover Hills, MD. Valerie is proud to be a Teaching and Performing Artist with Young Audiences of Maryland to bring dance to schools throughout the state.
I believe that Ms. Valerie is an important catalyst for discovery and achievement. Children need to be able to think and explore with the creative side of their brains. It gives them a better understanding of their world. The arts make children more flexible, gives them the ability to learn new skills in a new and different way, and to be creative and innovative. Ms. Valerie helps to tap, shape, and create their potential.
Cherisse, Teacher, Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School
Our class has really enjoyed our new learning experiences with Valerie with the song Can You Keep A Steady Beat and playing the flute.
Mary Ann, Teacher, Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School
Valerie is the most organized and passionate artist I have had the pleasure of working with. I love incorporating art into my lessons because it engages the students and helps them to learn, not only curriculum content, but also real life skills.
Kerri, Teacher, Seven Oaks Elementary