AUGUSTA — A dance education grant program for schools and teaching artists that seek to bring the power of dance to more schools is being offered by The Maine Arts Commission, according to a news release from the commission.

Grants for up to $3,000 will be awarded.

This program was launched last year, and the first residency was funded in December 2016. John Morris, a Maine dancer and teaching artist who finds creativity in the power of movement, brought that magic to the students at School Administrative District 33, one of Maine’s most rural school districts in Aroostook County.

Morris, a 35-year veteran dance teacher, traveled from the mountains of western Maine to teach a week-long dance residency at a school district nestled in the St. John River Valley.

This was no ordinary dance residency.

With the help of the Maine Arts dance education grant, Morris inspired middle and high school students to create unique dances based around the themes of identity and community.

“Creative movement is meant to allow students the ownership of their own uniqueness,” Morris said, according to the release. “I give students the foundational movement to invent and explore their own movement, and I guide them through the process of making their own dances.”

Morris also teamed up with the elementary school music classes to explore the connections between the elements of music and dance. He also worked with student arts advocacy group called S.L.A.M., and together they discovered new skills connected to music, dance, visual and language arts.

Morris’ residency culminated with an end of the week performance open to the whole community.

Funding for these programs were created by Dancers Making A Difference, a nonprofit organization committed to raising funds for dance education, along with the grassroots support of several Maine schools and dance studios.

Educators or teaching artist looking to introduce students to the power of dance education can review the grant guidelines and application criteria before applying by the May 16 deadline. The top qualifying schools selected will be eligible for the next funding cycle from Sept. 1 through March 30.

For information, visit www.MaineArts.com.

For questions regarding the grants or current teaching roster, contact Argy Nestor, director of Arts Education, at 287-2713 or [email protected].