Project Jericho bringing performance art to museum

Jericho Jazz dance team will debut a new routine Sunday.

When families “Come Find Art!” at the Springfield Museum of Art on Sunday, April 24, they’ll find something different among the paintings, drawings and sculptures – performance art.

Project Jericho’s Jericho Jazz dance team will debut a new routine, performing at 2:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.

“Come Find Art!” is a free interactive monthly program that allows families to discover and learn about the museum’s works. The event will be 2-3:30 p.m.

The occasion also marks a special day in the relationship between dance instructor Linzey Rice and the 13 Jericho Jazz dancers, local school students ages 8-12.

Rice, a senior pursuing dual majors in dance and communication at Wittenberg University, has learned as much from the kids as they have from her.

“As a student it has gotten me out of the bubble at Wittenberg and really gotten me into the Springfield community,” said Rice, who hails from Van Wert, Ohio.

During her junior year, Rice began an internship with Project Jericho, helping start a newsletter and working with the dance team. The relationship has grown in her second year.

“I feel like I know the kids better, we have a better trust. They come talk to me openly about their school activities,” Rice said.

Jaiden Welliford’s talent has blossomed in Jericho Jazz and through Rice’s influence.

Welliford, a Kenwood Elementary fourth-grader, said she started dancing to TV theme songs when she was little, naming “Dora the Explorer” as an early inspiration.

After learning new dance moves from Rice, she used the skills to team up with her sister, Jadie who is also on Jericho Jazz, and cousins and danced their way to five awards during a YMCA summer camp talent show last summer.

“Me and Miss Linzey have something in common, we both like to watch choreography videos on YouTube,” Welliford said, smiling. “Project Jericho is a place I’ve learned to dance and sing better.”

Welliford is also in the program’s bucket band and takes piano lessons. This makes her mom, Sheri Russell, happy.

“It’s helped my kids develop and build confidence, they really look forward to it,” she said. “I’m trying to keep my girls on the right path and they can do that with these opportunities.”

Despite the demands of two majors, Rice said being very organized has helped balance her many studies and interning. And she’s gotten more of an education than she’d bargained for.

It’s changed Rice’s perspective coming from a background where she always had what she needed and seeing things from her students’ view. She’s hoping to instruct and work in the arts upon graduation in May.

“It’s helped me hone in on my passion” Rice said. “I hope I can stay in touch and watch their shows in the future.”

In between Jericho Jazz performances, Rice will also teach attendees various dance moves during “Come Find Art!.

Kristi Limes, Project Jericho Specialist, Outreach and Education, said because Project Jericho is part of Clark State that education is a key component. Mixing youths with bright college students and exposing them to many art forms meet its goals.

Project Jericho is a collaborative program of the Clark State Performing Arts Center and the Clark County Department of Job & Family Services with additional funding provided by the Ohio Arts Council and The Turner Foundation.

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