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Archive for February, 2014

Interning and Improvising

Well, I haven’t been doing so well on my resolution to blog more, have I? In my defense, the last two and a half weeks were not very blog-worthy.

So! My internship! Despite missing two weeks (one due to my knee, another time class was cancelled because the entire city iced up and shut down), it’s going well and I’m really enjoying it. As part of our teacher training we need to observe a certain amount of classes, and today I went in early to observe their Creative Dramatics class of mostly 3- 4 year olds. It was a really lovely class– the teacher was so patient and so great with the little ones, and I loved her energy! And of course, the kiddos were adorable and funny. I learned a lot from watching them work together!

After that it was time to assist my regular class. It was going to be a little different today– the modern teacher was dancing out of state, and the improv teacher had another teaching gig this evening; so we were to have improv first, followed by an hour of yoga. Before class the school’s education director pulled me aside and asked if I would be okay working with the students myself, in case there was any gap between when the first teacher had to leave and the second teacher was ready. I said “sure, of course” and immediately knew what activity I could do.

We had a really fun improv class; doing an exercise called “Complete the form” and working with different-sized spaces to dance in. By the time 5:20 rolled around the improv teacher had to leave, and the yoga teacher hadn’t arrived yet (and she’s always early). I gave the kids a water break, then circled them up for an activity.

At first I was nervous. The teens all had a lot of energy, it was my first time working with them “solo” (well, aside from the accompanist), and two other teachers were observing the class. I swallowed my nerves and explained the exercise– each student would say their name, and do a dance move for each syllable of their name (I demonstrated by doing three arm movements– the “disco arm”– for my three-syllable name). Then the next person would do the same, and repeat the moves of the person before them. I also explained that this would also help me, the new-ish lady, learn their names a little better.

So, we did! It was pretty fun. Once we had gone all the way around the circle, we got word that the yoga teacher was stuck in traffic behind a wreck (Houston traffic is just awful). With that, I told the students that they would pair up and make their own little dances out of the moves we had just done in “the name game.” They didn’t need to use all the names, and they could choose to say the names aloud (as we did in the name game) or not; then each pair would present their “duet” to the class. If time permitted, they would then show their pieces a second time– with different music (the musician– who is awesome, by the way– played a moderate/fast tempo for the first round; the second round would be slower, and they would have to make their movement fit the new tempo).

I was really impressed with what some of these kids came up with! They have been taking modern and improvisation for a couple of years, and they are good with manipulating a phrase and making variations (level, speed, and dynamics) of the movements. Each duet brought a little something different to the table. After each pair presented their movement, I asked the rest of the class for feedback. All of the students were very supportive and encouraging of their fellow dancers.

By the time everyone had presented their duet and gotten feedback, the yoga teacher had arrived (after sitting in traffic for over ninety minutes. Poor gal!). I thanked the students for their wonderful work and told them to go grab a yoga mat; then we all– myself and musician included– got to enjoy some Forrest Yoga (I’ve only taken a  few classes in that form of yoga, but I like it. It feels good, and the teacher is all kinds of wonderful).

After class, the two teachers who had been observing gave me some compliments on my insta-subbing; which was very nice to hear because I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants. The yoga teacher thanked me for jumping in (hey, no problem!), and we commiserated for a moment over the general suckiness of Houston traffic.

And then it was my turn to go get stuck in traffic. Boy, was I ever glad to get out of the cold, wet weather and into a hot shower and a dry martini!

***

All in all, I had a really wonderful time. It was a great way to spend a cold, rainy, yucky afternoon.

(I realize that this post is probably full of semicolon abuse and tense-shifting issues, but eh. It’s been a long day and I can proofread tomorrow. I’m sure my three blog readers* will understand.)

*Three is probably generous. I’m sure it’s more like one blog reader. Hi, Mom!

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