Combining specializations in early childhood education, motor learning and dance, Christina Lydia Salgado joins Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre this week as its new director of education and community engagement.
Among her core priorities, Salgado will build PBT’s growing early education programs and accessibility initiatives for students and patrons with special needs. In October, she will present her insights on childhood creative movement and motor skill development during the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science annual conference in Pittsburgh. Salgado assumes the position from former PBT education and community engagement director, Alyssa Herzog Melby, who moved back to her native Minnesota to become executive director of the Northfield Arts Guild.
“We are thrilled to welcome Christina – and her dual perspective on dance and childhood development – to the PBT family,” said PBT Executive Director Harris Ferris. “PBT is passionate about the physical and cognitive benefits of early exposure to dance and to the arts. It’s an important part of our mission to share the sense of self-expression, confidence and imagination that movement can inspire. Christina will be a powerful advocate in this effort.”
The New York native holds a master’s degree from Columbia University in Motor Learning and Control. She completed her undergraduate degree in Dance and Early Childhood Special Education at George Mason University. Most recently, Salgado worked as early learning coordinator for New Jersey Community Development Corporation in Paterson, New Jersey. She has also served as a curriculum developer and researcher for Head Start, integrating creative movement and motor development techniques, through Columbia University’s Teachers College.
Salgado will lead an education program, which this year spanned more than 48 classrooms in 13 schools throughout the region. In collaboration with Pittsburgh Public Schools and PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great program, PBT integrates ballet and creative movement into pre-K and elementary school curriculum. It also takes ballet dancers and concepts into Carnegie libraries and community sites, presents student matinees performances for elementary through high school students, and hosts professional development workshops for educators.
Following its first sensory-friendly performance in 2013, PBT’s Education Department also has expanded programs designed for people with sensory sensitivities and other special needs. In addition to theater accessibility, PBT has piloted an Adaptive Dance program for students with autism through funding from the Jack Buncher Foundation as well as dance classes designed for people with Parkinson’s Disease. Under Salgado’s leadership, the organization aims to build on these and similar programs to continue connecting more people with the art form of ballet. For more information about PBT’s education and accessibility initiatives, please visit www.pbt.org/community-engagement.