For The Arts, a campaign of the Education Foundation of Santa Monica-Malibu, is now funding dance instruction at high schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

An endowment of For The Arts enables the foundation to spend $20,000 annually for dance.

Robert Gilliam, an urban contemporary dancer and choreographer, designed and is implementing the dance curriculum at Santa Monica High School, Olympic High School and Malibu High School for the current school year.

Officials of the Education Foundation of Santa Monica-Malibu officials believe the new dance program will have a direct and positive impact on 250 students.

The mission of For The Arts is to maintain and enhance the quality of fine arts education (music, visual arts, dance and drama) for every student in the local school district through the creation of a permanent endowment fund.

This spring, For The Arts funded a pilot program in collaboration with Gilliam.

Students were exposed to ballet, jazz, modern and hip-hop techniques and the fundamentals of choreography.

The dance curriculum ran in several physical education classes over a period of eight weeks at Santa Monica High School.

“They [students and Gilliam] discovered that dance not only trains in physical skills and stamina, but also integrates principles of integrity, focus and creativity,” said Linda Gross, exec- utive director of the Education Foundation of Santa Monica-Malibu.

Best known for his fusion choreography, Gilliam brings together contemporary and classical movement genres.

His style of rhythmic dance comes from his studies of ballet, modern dance, jazz and traditional African dance, according to a spokesman.

He began dancing as a child on the streets and went on to study at the California Institute of the Arts. Professionally, he has worked with the Beijing Opera and various troupes in Spain, Brazil and Asia.

His educational work includes creating an outreach program for the Portland Ballet, training promising young dancers for acceptance to top dance companies, and teaching students in public and private schools throughout Los Angeles County with the Music Center Education Division and teaching incarcerated youths for the Los Angeles County Probation Department.

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