I can blame my long absence from the blog on the addition of a baby to the family or my desire to play in the garden during my downtime rather than sit in front of the computer, but Aurora is napping and it's been raining for weeks... and my desire to believe in and feel the power of dance around here in this little corner of the woods is powerful and pulling me off center in a crazy excited kind of way.
We've been moving nonstop here in small town Vermont. The kid climbs on my back as we dance in schools, asking kids to let go, even for a moment, of all the stuff they carry with them and to instead move. Last week we were at Floodbrook School in Londonderry, VT working with every student in the public K-8 school on improvising and choreographing (as well as listening and sharing and trying to be kind). Music teacher Mike and PE teacher Mark made the residency possible and helped create a positive space for exploring dance.
The littles sculpted each other into imaginary still creatures, granting each other permission to come alive and move like wild creatures of the day. Those a little older explored opposition, creating duets, trios, and quartets full of tension and release. The fifth and sixth graders told narratives in stillness and movement, using only three words to convey their stories through text and movement. The middle schoolers created phrases and manipulated them by playing with elements of time, shape, space and effort. Included below is a clip from some seventh grade boys. Oh, how I'd like to share more, but it's hard to get permission to share the faces of some kids via the internet, and it's okay with me to protect their souls some from too much overexposure.
I find myself asking big questions after working with these kiddos for the week. How do we create environments where kids feel safe to share? Where sharing their work is the celebration? How do we create environments where editing and revision is as exciting as dancing on the stage? Where we crave feedback and time to digest each other's responses?
I pushed the kids to critique, asking them to describe what they wanted to see more of, what didn't work for them, what excited them, and what they noticed. This can be scary stuff in the presence of folks you don't necessarily want to bare your soul to and for... It is work. Let us ask kids to see the fun in the work, to see the work in the fun.