Monday, December 24, 2012

winter concert swing

a dance of the soul

Davis Waldorf School began the holidays with our annual Winter Concert. Traditionally, orchestra, band, and grades second through eighth perform for family and friends. The eighth grade students played and danced to Let It Snow. My daughter (pictured in the light blue top) and I (directing with my youngest perched on my arm in the picture) had choreographed the two and half minute piece with an East Coast style of swing, and I arranged music for a rhythm section, flute, violin, clarinet, and vocals. We practiced about three mornings per week for four weeks in lieu of our morning movement time.

When I partnered the boys and girls and told them they had to dance with each other, both sides feigned resistance, but clearly,  they were happy for the sanctioned physical contact! By the third week, we had completed the steps from start to finish, and began the work of polishing up the steps, the arm angles, the spins, and dips.

As a teacher, my role is deeper than merely showing them a dance or teaching them how to play a song together. My role teaches to the soul of the child. In the case of the eighth graders, I am guiding the soul forces of adolescents. Here in this time of their lives when things can get a bit awkward physically, and turbulent emotionally, I must find a way to guide them towards healthy relationships between each other. In our every day contact between men and women, we have to be sensitive, mindful, and respectful. We must acknowledge each other's gifts, give each other a chance to shine, and be both strong and vulnerable. Why not a swing dance as an archetype to human relationships!

In swing dancing, partners have to be able to read signals and gestures, to flow smoothly in unison, sometimes to give one or the other the spotlight, and to achieve an effortless balance of male and female energy. For the eighth graders, they learned through the gentle touch of each other's hands, the movement of their bodies, and the gaze of their eyes that they must truly trust and respect each other. They discovered that their dance had the right energy and the right balance, and was just a whole lot of fun!

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