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The cover of the Spring 2007 SF State Magazine features two penguins, heads bent together as they view their offspring on the ground below.

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Professor Albirda Rose smiles in encouragement as a young dancer enjoys the music. Photo by Francis Da Silva

A Full Dance Card

Photo by Francis Da Silva

Senior Charlotte Nehm says Dance Professor Albirda Rose "is the most inspiring teacher ever." For the past two years, Nehm has taught in Rose's Village Dancers program, which sends SF State undergrads to teach free classes to children in San Francisco's Visitacion Valley and Bayview neighborhoods. "Dr. Rose will get to Saturday classes, and she'll be so tired because of all she does," Nehm says, "and then the kids arrive, and she gives them everything."

The program grew out of Rose's Creative Dance class, which requires community service. Most University students help lead the Village Dancers only in the fall, when Rose's class is in session. But others have volunteered to teach year-round, and last November the Village Dancers won a $25,000 grant from the Haas Fund to help pay them for their efforts.

"These children deal with a reality that is so different from what most of us can comprehend," says Rose, who has taught at SF State since 1969. "They're dealing with parents who are not home, who are on welfare, are on drugs."

She and her volunteers teach a mix of dance styles, but their lessons extend far beyond steps. They focus on inspirational "d-words": dedication, devotion and detachment from negative influences. They also perform at senior homes, and at the Village Dancers' annual "New Moves" showcase the second week of November at McKenna Theatre.

Rose hopes her Village Dancers will continue long after she leaves SF State (she plans on retiring in about two years). In the meantime, she says, teaching troubled kids is simply her calling. "It's a ministry for me."


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Last modified June 19, 2007, by the Office of Public Affairs and Publications