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K-State Today

April 16, 2018

Dance Program professor lectures and teaches tap dance in Kuwait

By Neil Dunn

Tap Shoes

In March, Julie L. Pentz, associate professor of dance and associate director, traveled to Kuwait City, Kuwait, to lecture at the American University of Kuwait, teach tap dance, and lead Tap To Togetherness sessions for the residents of Kuwait City. 

Tap To Togetherness is a program developed by Pentz with the K-State Tap Dance Ensemble and has local collaborators from the Parents as Teachers Program in Manhattan. The program offers interactive demonstrations of tap dance and how tap dance addresses early childhood development needs, such as sensory, social-emotional development, cognitive development, and sensorimotor skills.

In collaboration with the Parents as Teachers program, Pentz works with children beginning at birth to adult age. Additionally, the program offers sessions to families and children of all ages, across the state of Kansas, and beyond regionally, nationally and internationally. The Tap To Togetherness program has an ongoing research team that represents the areas of dance, kinesiology and food, nutrition, dietetics and health.

The American University of Kuwait is an independent, private, equal opportunity and coeducational liberal arts institution of higher education. The educational, cultural and administrative structure, methods and standards of AUK are based on the American model of higher learning. Pentz offered tap dance sessions and a presentation of Tap To Togetherness to the faculty and students at the university. Additionally, Pentz offered five days of open master classes in tap dance class and Tap To Togetherness sessions that were open to all in Kuwait City, Kuwait.

While in Kuwait, Pentz visited several locations that will offer tap dance classes, Tap To Togetherness sessions and public performances, in the future. This will be the first dance experience offered at these locations. The Sadu House is a beautiful, traditional Kuwaiti styled house where visitors can discover the Bedouin art of weaving, its styles and history. This exceptional museum stands out for its depiction of the exquisiteness and custom encompassed in Bedouin crafts, namely Sadu weaving. Located next to the National Museum of Kuwait on the Gulf Road, Bait Al Sadu, or "Sadu House," was formerly an old Kuwaiti house that has been converted into a cultural center. Al Shaheed park, located in Kuwait city, narrates the story of a land, its history and culture. The park consists of greenery, featuring beautiful botanical gardens, two museums, Thekra and the Habitat, a visitor center, a lake, walkways and jogging tracks, making it the largest urban park in Kuwait. Located on the oldest and most historical ring roads of Kuwait, Al Shaheed Park contains a wealth of history waiting to be explored. The most historical elements found in the park is the Al-Shaab gate, one of the five remaining gates of the old Kuwait Wall. The vision of the park is to become the leading cultural platform in the country. It is doing this by offering the public educational and cultural programs as well outdoor and indoor spaces that can be used for various events and activities. The parks spaces include the amphitheater, several open grass areas around the park as well as the visitor center's multipurpose hall.

This trip was made possible by a Kansas State University Faculty Development Award and Kuwait collaborators Fatmah AlQadfan and Haya Al-Khaldi. AlQadfan is a K-State alumna, and holds a master's degree in drama therapy. Currently, AlQadfan works in Kuwait at a nonprofit health care clinic. She also volunteers and mentors in local youth organizations and brings awareness about the role of the arts in the healing process. Al-Khaldi graduated from the American University of Kuwait with a degree in mass communications. Khaldi has years in experience in both the arts and culture and telecom industries. She founded Malabar Coffee in 2013 to explore her passion for coffee which has developed into a retail company called Malabar Life. Khaldi has always been passionate about the arts, particularly music and dance.

Pentz will return to Kuwaiti in the future, offering students international travel experiences, continuing to teach tap dance, lead Tap To Togetherness sessions and strengthening her ongoing collaboration with the American University of Kuwait.

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