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Photo by Jennie Miller

Families on the High Line: Learning Through Movement

By Jennie Miller | August 14, 2016

How do you use the High Line as a family? Is it a place to relax and reconnect? An opportunity to look closely at plants and animals in the heart of the city? A source of creativity?

The High Line inspires teachers, storytellers, and artists every day, and each month we are inviting them to share different ways families can learn together on the High Line.

In our third blog post about our family activities, guest writer Jennie Miller from Dance Adventure discusses the importance of movement in unusual spaces.

Dance Adventurer Eli jumps above the High Line’s path.

Dance Adventure is a site-specific children’s dance company. Our goal is to create dance in unexpected places all over New York City, and one of our favorite places to work is the High Line since we love to jump, skip, and spin down the path in the sky. Our young choreographers take in the environment and use it in their dance pieces.

Dancers use the peel-up benches on the High Line during part of their routine.Jennie Miller

The High Line brings people, nature, and art together to create a perfect storm of inspiration for our work. We talk about the site-specific artists who choose the High Line for their art and why we think they do that. We also look at the artists’ use of space, color, texture, and subject— and try to convert those ideas into movement so that our dances parallel the visual art.

A small door in the 14th Street Passage on the park frames a new dance piece.Jennie Miller

We choose our own sites like the magic door, the taxi benches, or the train tracks, and we learn about the history of the High Line and incorporate ideas of train travel, time travel, and different pathways into our dances. We work on the High Line in every season and find that the seasonal vegetation is beautiful and ever-changing—and that our dances reflect that. Falling leaves, budding flowers, and blowing branches are all pieces of our dances.

Dancers come up with choreography on the spot, inspired by both space and people on the park.Jennie Miller

Once, we went to the High Line on a rainy day, when no one else wanted to be outside. Two singers were practicing near the magic door. We started to dance to their strong voices. Our dancers improvised to each song they sang. Then, when the kids explained that they were going to choreograph in groups, the singers offered to provide the music and sang songs from Frozen multiple times until the kids finished their work and performed with them.

The best thing about dancing on the High Line is that it’s always different. Once, during a visit, one of our dancers said, “Haven’t we been there before?” And another dancer responded, “Yes, but it’s always a new adventure each time!”

Check out Friends of the High Line’s fourth Make It! for families on Saturday, August 27 from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, and come back to see Dance Adventure perform on September 24.


Major support for High Line Families comes from Deutsche Bank. This program is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.

MetLife Foundation is a Supporting Sponsor of High Line Families.