Dancing For Change

“Welcome to your last dance class before spring break!” greeted Lower School Dance teacher Susan Strong as Class 1 students popped into the virtual room.

Today was a special day for the young dancers as they were to debut the pieces they had worked on as part of their “Use Your Voice” Dance project, born out of the Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Lower School.

Students began by reading the book We March by Shane Evans and held robust discussions centered around why people march or protest. In previous classes, the scholars watched videos of several different dance companies, such as Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey and Step Afrika, to examine ways that dancers can share important messages that matter to them. In addition, they learned about activists – young and old – who strive to make a change in the world.

After these thought-provoking lessons, students began to consider ways they could help their own community or the world as a whole. Ms. Strong encouraged them to think deeply about the message they wanted to convey. They wrote down several words or phrases including ‘Fairness,’ ‘Kindness,’ ‘Spread Love,’ ‘Peace,’ ‘Help Others,’ and ‘Protect the Earth.’ From there, they used these important words to influence and transform their movements.

To the tune of Pink’s cover of “A Million Dreams,” students twirled, jumped and danced with a purpose. Many also incorporated hand movements to portray feelings or actions. For example, some crossed their forearms to depict an X for “stop,” while others extended their arms out and back in to their chest as if welcoming you in.

“The project was inspiring,” commented Ms. Strong. “To see their young minds become so passionate about their messages for the community. It was special.”

After viewing their classmates’ unique videos, Ms. Strong noted that a full video compilation of all of Class 1’s imaginative dances would be live on Seesaw so students could go back and watch whenever they wanted.

To conclude the class and this noteworthy unit, Ms. Strong threw a virtual dance party! Each student wiggled, spun or jumped around from their respective Zoom box beaming a big smile. “You’ve all worked so hard,” Ms. Strong cheered. “You deserve it!”