Dance to Learn

Dance to Learn Residency

Dance to Learn is a multifaceted dance education program that promotes arts-based learning through dance in K-12 schools. Each site participates in a strategic planning process to identify their own learning objectives and design an action plan tailored to the unique needs of their students. School sites attend professional dance performances at the Ordway comprising a rich collection of different dance forms, techniques and styles. Dance to Learn empowers all teachers and learners to express themselves through innovative and participatory dance curriculum.

Residency Structure: Resident artists, school faculty and Ordway Education staff collaborate to identify both academic and social-emotional learning goals for each classroom. Ordway residencies are individually designed to meet a school’s needs and are supported by Ordway teaching artists and staff through…

  • Professional development for staff: Half day professional development workshop, residency planning meetings, reflection and feedback meetings, full day cross site symposium.
  • Professional performances at the Ordway: The Dance to Learn kick-off event and two other dance performances selected by each teaching team for students and teachers to attend.
  • In-School residency work: Includes 10 sessions with each classroom, guided reflection on performances with Ordway staff, an optional final sharing event where students perform for the school, parents and local community members.


  • Support and/or introduce dance education in K-12 schools
  • Personalize the experience of attending a dance performance at the Ordway
  • Encourage and facilitate critical thinking about live performance and arts-based instruction
  • Work towards inclusion and equity in arts-based education

Teaching Artists

Aneka McMullen is a performer & choreographer who hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota and holds a BFA in Dance from Ohio State University.  Her extensive dance experience spans more than two decades and includes dynamic skills in performance, choreography and instruction in the genres of Modern, Jazz, Ballet, Afro Modern, West African and Hip Hop.  Aneka is a co- founder and artistic director of Epitome- No Question, an open Hip Hop dance company dedicated to celebrating the community conscious roots of Hip Hop culture, through dance theater.  Epitome- No Question represents “Old Skool” Hip Hop as it best reflects the West African roots of the genre.  Hip Hop with the “Hop” in it!  Aneka is currently a member of BLAQ, an Afro Modern dance company based in the twin cities and has recently completed five seasons as a performer with the Minneapolis based Threads Dance Project. Aneka has been blessed to work with some of the dance world’s most revered choreographers such as, Rennie Harris, Ronald K. Brown & Jawole Willa Jo Zolar just to name a few.

Leah Nelson_Resident_Teaching_Artist

Leah Nelson graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She performs and teaches nationally and internationally in venues like Brooklyn Academy of Music, Zellerbach Theater, PS122 and Dance Jubilee in her native Zimbabwe. She has created customized entertainment for clients like The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Science Museum of Minnesota and Target. She was recently commissioned to create an original Acro-Ballet inspired by the history of 3M for their 45th Golden Step award and has choreographed for both Circus Juventas and Xelias Ariel Arts. She has also performed both on stage and in media alongside legendary performers Prince, Lisa Loeb and Lil Wayne. Ms Nelson is a co-founder and collaborator with the Minnesota Spoken Word Association and “B-Girl Be: A Celebration of Women in Hip-Hop” at Intermedia Arts – both the result of her passion for achieving social change through the arts. Her most recent adventure in art and choreography is for “The Bluest Eye” – a Guthrie Theater production.

Karla Nweje_in_StrataKarla Nweje is a choreographer, performer, literary artist, and arts educator. She holds a BFA in Dance Performance from Brooklyn College/CUNY. Karla is a published author and contributing writer to literary journals and anthologies and writes and presents interactive workshops for youth. After obtaining her teaching credentials, Ms. Nweje worked as a high school teacher in New York City by day while performing by night. During this time, she used performing arts techniques to enhance classroom learning. The positive results she witnessed affirmed her conviction that the arts are vital to the healthy, comprehensive development of our youth. Since arriving to the Twin Cities, Karla has served the community through multiple programs and organizations.  She has produced several bodies of stage work and continues to choreograph and write material for students and a broadening audience base.  Karla is a 2013 recipient of Ordway Education’s Excellence in Educational Service Award and is entering her 10th season as a teaching artist and design team member for its Dance to Learn program. She is on several artist rosters and remains a regular presenter at arts and education conferences and retreats.

Residency Timeline

Early SeptemberResidency application due to the Ordway
Late SeptemberSchool notified of application status
September- Early OctoberProfessional development workshops with staff and artists (4 hours)
school-specific site visit
September- OctoberAt-school planning with teaching artists and Ordway staff for in school residency work (2 Hours)
October - AprilResidency Work:
•up to 10 hours per classroom with students
•up to 6 hours for planning and reflection time for site team with Ordway staff and teaching artists
(including mid-point and final site reflection)
•up to 1 hour final student performance/sharing (optional)
October- MayStudents and faculty attend Ordway school performances
MayFinal reflection for all participating schools (All day professional development event)

Interested? If you are interested in becoming an Ordway “Dance to Learn” school please call our Education Hotline at 651-282-3115 for more information.