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ASFA Graduate returns from New York City to give back to the community

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Erica Wright
For The Birmingham Times

Students learn Horton, contemporary and jazz dance at the FILES Arts Project Summer Dance Program. (Erica Wright for the Birmingham Times)

Students from around the Birmingham area had the opportunity to learn dance from an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater student. Today they get to show what they learned.

Katherine “Kat” Files, a former Alabama School of Fine Arts graduate, brought the Future Inspired Leaders Exemplifying Success (FILES) Arts Project 2017 Summer Dance Workshop to ASFA on Thursday, June 29 – Friday, June 30. Today from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., students will perform in “Family and Friends Observation Day of Classes.”

This is the fourth year Files has brought the program to the youth of Birmingham and surrounding areas.

“I have always believed that arts training and performance opportunities should be inclusive, available, and accessible to all students,” says Files. “It is my desire to provide dance and arts training at no cost to Birmingham youth, who do not have access to the professional training that I have been fortunate to receive at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City.”

The free workshop offers rigorous training for beginner dancers ages 5-12 and intermediate/advanced dancers ages 13 and up. Along with dancer Kat Files, the workshop will also include guest dancers Chelsea Parron and Rivkins Christopher, and Physical Therapist, Lisa Altamirano.

Dance classes featuring Horton, Contemporary, and Jazz techniques provide participants the opportunity to refine their skills and explore the latest in modern and contemporary movement. Classes were held from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and will culminate in a “Family and Friends Observation Day of Classes” on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

“I love it so much,” says Tori King, 17, a first-time student in the workshop. “I’m learning so many different styles, that I wouldn’t learn before and I’m really learning a lot of skills and techniques that I’ve never seen before, that I’m really loving and its really beneficial to me.”

Students are split into levels during the workshop. Level one for beginner’s dance ages 6-12 are split in two groups: Level 1A and 1B while level two is for intermediate/advanced dance ages 13 and up. Some students of the program have attended each year, while for others, this is their first year in the program.

The 2017 workshop focuses on the art of dance and is being led by Files at ASFA. As part of her commitment to community outreach, Files held a Horton Master Class for dance students at BOLD (Beating the Odds, Living the Dream) Performing Arts Academy in Fairfield, on June 27.

In 2016, Files choreographed work “Nineteen Sixty-Three,” which was originally performed in New York at The Ailey School and was the showcases’ closing performance.

The dance pays tribute to the Civil Rights Movement and the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church where the four little girls- Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley- were killed.

Kat Files is an alum of Alabama School of Fine Arts.

Kat Files is a member of the Felice Lesser Dance Theater, a dance instructor/ choreographer, and model in New York City. She is a 2015 graduate of Fordham University/Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s B.F.A. Program in Dance and a Glorya Kaufman Foundation Dance Scholar.