DALLAS - There's a school in Dallas where 27 different languages are spoken and the students learn about the different cultures in various ways, including a special dance program.
Eighth graders at Dealey International Academy, part of the Dallas Independent School District, tediously apply elaborate makeup before hitting the stage during a practice of the ancient art of kabuki.
The performances help the students learn about "the respect that the Japanese use in their culture," said Tricia Hilgart, a 13-year-old participant in the program.
"We're not just learning about one style of theatre in Japan, we're learning about Japan altogether," she said.
Kabuki is one of the traditional arts of Japan and is considered a national treasure and highly stylized classical dance-drama. The girls practice after school one day per week.
During a recent practice, Kristin Raveneau narrated while softly tapping two cylindrical bars together.
"I'm just an outline to all the movement on stage," she said. "I'm our music for everything." .
Theatre arts teacher Liz Garrett, the program's advisor, said she hopes the students understand the growth that can take place when they immerse themselves in the arts of another culture.
"It's one of the things that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning because they are just incredible to work with," she said of her students. "First of all, they are wonderful kids, but their passion and excitement just ignites my imagination off we go."
The girls have performed kabuki outside of school, including at the Crowe Museum in Dallas.