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WMS partners with Island Moving Company to open the door to a new way of learning through dance

Just as each child learns differently, exposing students to a wide variety of academic and enrichment programs can often open doors to a whole new way of learning. Wilbur McMahon School (WMS) will be expanding its after-school menu of extra-curricular offerings to include a beginner ballet class via a partnership with Island Moving Company (IMC).

“Our first, second and third grade students benefited greatly last year when we brought in the IMC’s Introduction to Creative Movement and the Math Into Movement Programs,” said Superintendent Dr. Laurie Dias-Mitchell. “This year we’re continuing that partnership with Island Moving Company by offering the same programs and adding an after-school beginner ballet class,” she said. While the school will host the program in its gymnasium, the after-school program will be run by Island Moving Company and is open to all interested local students ages 8-12.

Studies have shown that integrating dance and movement programs into a solid roster of academic classes often results in added benefits for students, explained Miki Ohlsen, artistic director of Island Moving Company.  These benefits include increased physical activity, encouragement of a healthy lifestyle, team building as well as independence, intellectual and emotional maturity, arts exposure and appreciation of the performing arts and athleticism. 

“Beginner ballet classes will complement our rigorous curriculum and provide our students with a different outlet to not only express themselves but to learn in a unique setting,” said Principal Sonya Whipp. “Last December, we were able to provide 60 of our students with an extraordinary experience to see Island Moving Company’s performance of The Nutcracker at the Sakonnet Point Club. We had such a great turnout that this year we are hosting this performance in our gymnasium on Sunday, December 8 at 2 p.m. We are hopeful that the Nutcracker performance and the classes our younger students participated in last year will entice some children to sign up for the beginner ballet class,” she added.

The 10-week, one-hour program for children ages 8-12 will be held on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. from September 18 through November 20 and will include an exploration of formal study of ballet with many playful, creative ways of learning about technique, rhythm, practicing gross motor skills and understanding the art of dance. IMC has set a gentle tuition rate of $150 for the 10-week program. There are also six full scholarships available for WMS students. (Please contact Principal Sonya Whipp or Social Worker/Guidance Counselor Mary Elizabeth Miller for scholarship details.) 

For more information contact Island Moving Company at, call 401-847-4470 or email To register for the class, you can use the link below and select “WMS Beginner Ballet” class on Wednesdays from 4 to 5 p.m.

A second 10-week session is also in the planning stages and will begin in late February 2020.