I’ve spent a good portion of my life studying ballet. I love to dance. I dance everywhere I can, even when the only music I hear is the music in my head. So, when I had opportunities to build lesson plans around dancing in college, I did so. The first opportunity was in my kinesiology class. We had to create a interdisciplinary lesson plan where one of the disciplines was kinesiology. I taught everybody a dance from Israel.
The second opportunity was a bit more freeform, and is now in my portfolio. When I started, it was something to do with the kids in a museum summer camp. It ended up becoming one of the highlights of my student teaching.
The concept was simple. I wanted to create a program where children could explore and express themselves through moving to music. We had warm-ups that I led through a story, much to the children’s amusement. Then we had activities each time we met.
Some days, we would play charades with cards on which I wrote challenging words like sky, cloud, and relaxing. The child drew a card and then created their own motions to try to convey the idea to the others. It was amazing to see all the ways they came up with to communicate these ideas. Some days, I’d show them various professional dances intended to tell a story or convey a cultural feel. At one meeting, I would do the doll’s dance from The Nutcracker, and they would have to guess what I was. Then, one day, I’d play a handful of pieces for them. They picked a piece of music and decided whether to work in a team or alone. Each team was then challenged to listen again to their piece and decide what story they wanted to tell through their movements to that music.
Being children, they took the challenge to heart and gave us some beautiful stories. We had a spy. We had friends meeting to play. We had one tell us a bit about herself through her dance. It was just freeing to them, and allowed them to learn a little bit more about ways to express themselves.
I’ve often thought that intergrating movement and music programs, especially if you can create a boundary-less program, would be beneficial to just about anyone. Even if all you do is provide an open space and the music and just let the participants do their own thing, I think it can help open their creativity and help them be all right with their ability to express their inner feelings.