Loyola University Chicago

Rambler Buzz


Ballet in Bolivia: One student teaches dance to children in need

Ballet in Bolivia: One student teaches dance to children in need

While many Ramblers give back through international medical brigades and mission work, one Loyola senior found a way to use her unique artistic talents for others last summer—through dance. 

Elizabeth Modde, a biology and dance double major, combined her interests in health and motion through Loyola’s Social Justice Fellowship. Designed to support research that does justice, the fellowship enabled her to travel to Bolivia, where she taught dance to children through Niños Con Valor, a program that houses neglected children who have varying health abilities.

During her stay in Bolivia, Modde taught boys and girls of all ages. During her boys’ ballet class of boys ages four to nine years-old, she ended class with a creative movement game, where the boys could generate their own choreography and share it with the rest of the class. Beyond observing improvement in recognition and recall, the class gave the kids a chance to understand choices and creativity within structures and pushed them to engage with and respect each other as a community. Modde’s younger class of girls ages six to ten enjoyed dancing in the nearby park and selecting costumes for their final performance.

Not only did Modde observe the children changing and learning form dance, but her research became a vehicle for self-discovery as well. Living in community with Maryknoll missioners and exchanging interests and perspectives with those at Niños heightened her passion for social justice.

“Living in Bolivia gave me the opportunity to reflect on ways in which I can love others better and engage more intentionally in my community,” said Modde. “I discovered justice as a way of life and I want to continue that in Chicago.”

Integrating some of what she learned this summer, Modde is spending the fall teaching jazz in Roger’s Park through Caring Connections for Seniors, and working with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago to design a dance class for their pediatric floor.

“I hope these opportunities working with and learning from others will provide me with a holistic perspective of health that can complement my education and prepare me for a career as a health professional.”

For more information about the organization Elizabeth worked with, check out www.ninosconvalor.org.