Stepping into the Spotlight: Midway Dance Takes Center Stage as Course Offerings Expand
Opportunities for Midway students to explore the art of dance are now more abundant than ever.
With classes catering to every skill level from beginner to advanced—including special populations—Midway’s dance instructors have been working to significantly expand the range of opportunities available to their students.
Both Midway High School Dance Director Lindsay Benning and Adia Richardson, director of dance at Midway and River Valley Middle Schools, are in their second year at Midway. In just a short amount of time, they have already introduced several new classes and brought the dance program to the middle school level in the fall of 2022.
“We are experiencing huge growth and it’s exciting to see,” Benning said. “There are so many new programs on campus for students to get involved in and move!”
Just like other fine arts programs at Midway, dance aims to foster student expression, support physical and mental well-being, and develop skills applicable to lifelong pursuits.
“Many students do not have the opportunity to dance outside of school,” Richardson said, “so offering it to them in school for free means that every day I get to help someone gain access to something they didn't know they needed or didn't know they could succeed at.”
With an enrollment of nearly 250 dancers between the district’s two middle schools and just shy of 100 at the high school level, dance is a compelling option for a number of Midway students to stay active while engaging in the arts.
High School Dance
At Midway High School, students can choose from a variety of dance classes with several chances to perform throughout the year, including Midway’s annual spring show "Gotta Dance."
Both new to high school for the 2023-24 school year, Panther Pom Squad and Partners Dance are creating even more opportunities for students.
“Partners Dance is a course designed for special education students to work on gross motor skills, creative movement, rhythm, and dance choreography,” Benning said, ”and Panther Pom performs on the sidelines at football and basketball games providing a new level of spirit.”
With the addition of Panther Pom, a spirit program focusing on pom and jazz styles, Midway High School now has two extracurricular dance teams that are auditioned programs. The long-standing Goal Tenders are a precision dance/drill team that performs at Midway athletic events and competes in dance competitions throughout the spring.
Also new to the dance program are high school dance elective classes, now in their second year, which allow students to earn either a P.E. or fine arts credit while exploring dance styles and working on their overall technique.
“My goals for Midway Dance are that we continue to create a space for students to feel comfortable trying something new, pushing themselves to learn or improve their skill set, and create connections with their peers through movement and unique experiences,” Benning said.
As Midway Dance grows, Benning looks forward to providing programs that serve newcomers all the way to students with prior studio training who are looking for a place to continue their growth in a studio-like environment while earning credits for graduation.
“Campus administration and district fine arts staff didn’t hesitate when presented with the idea to start Panther Pom, Partners Dance, and the dance electives at the high school,” Benning said. “It’s clear that they want to provide students with as many opportunities as they can and they are supporting that mission by supporting the growth of the dance department.”
Middle School Dance
Under the leadership of Adia Richardson, who shares her time between Midway's two middle school campuses, dance classes at the middle school level are entering their second year.
Currently, two course options are offered to students. An introductory dance elective allows students to earn P.E. or fine arts credit and serves as a pathway to the advanced dance class.
“Advanced dance is geared toward dancers who are interested in performing more and developing their technique, leadership, and choreographic skills,” Richardson said, “and dancers in both classes have multiple performance opportunities throughout the year.”
For her crucial role in establishing middle school dance at Midway, Richardson was selected as the Dance Educator of the Year by the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (TAHPERD) which recognizes professional members who demonstrate excellence in dance teaching programs.
As a Midway alum, Richardson looks forward to inspiring the next generation of dancers at her alma mater.
“The more dancers I can develop at the middle school level, the more dancers we will have that feed into the high school dance programs,” Richardson said. “My hope is that we can continue growing the program and continue to help young dancers find their love for dance.”