Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First Day In Studio!

Here we are, and can I just say how great this feels!  It's like walking into your childhood home. It may not be the studio, theaters or classrooms I grew up in, but it has an open space, with dance floors, mirrors and barres.  The role of dancer and teacher is just so much a part of me.  With years of training, teaching and choreographing and then my 6 year break (with some exceptions), I have read, searched, planned, become a pedagogical student and let a whirlwind of ideas run wild through my mind and on paper.  This feels like home!

I'm very excited about the year ahead of us. The girls are starting kindergarten. It is a huge weight off my chest that we have found a school that both values the importance of family time and provides a schedule that gives children the freedom to pursue their own interests.  With this schedule and beautiful studio space, we are building upon their curriculum as we learn the art of dance and all that it encompasses.

As I have mentioned before, I plan on teaching my children the method of classical ballet as founded by Vaganova.  The beauty behind this method is that when she was creating it she worked with scientists and kinesiologists. She analyzed each element and broke it down piece by piece and then build it up.  The method is scientifically sound and so beautifully and methodically planed out.

So, with the method of classical ballet that is so methodically planned out but doesn't begin until the age of 10, what can I teach my children right now?

With my love and years of experience in teaching movement to young children I knew the most important thing I could do for a child was to develop their love for dance.  As I became a pedagogical student I was able to see the bigger picture in much greater detail and was able to look at my movement classes and lesson plans with a more critical eye.  I wanted my lessons to flow as a natural progression into classical training by breaking it down even further as my students discovered and strengthened the muscles that would eventually give them aplomb.  Further more, using a child's natural love and curiosities, I wanted to explore dance in all its elements.

As a dancer you are also an actor, musician and artist.  Dance is science and math that can be applied and comprehended. It has a long rich history that has shaped cultures. Beyond the art and education, it teaches discipline and poise.  Dance is not just tutu's and pointe shoes. It is an avenue that can open our hearts and minds to the world around us.  What better way is there than being able to teach a child through the arts? A place they are naturally drawn to.

I have planned my lessons with a look into the great artists of the past and a culture that valued this art in its most purist form.  A time when children auditioned for the honor and prestige of becoming a student at a renowned school, like the Bolshoi or Paris Opera, and their training and education was designed with the purpose of developing artistic perfection.  Students of the past and present not only studied ballet but they studied music and learned to play an instrument. They studied french, acting, math, history and geography.  Each subject can be broken down and simplified, and through dance can be approached in a manner that captures a child's intrigue.

As for our first day we covered quite a bit!  They learned how to correctly enter a dance studio, the rules that we must follow and discussed what a huge privilege it was to be there.  I gave them a brief history of King Louie the fourteenth (because what little girl isn't fascinated by royalty?)

Louie the fourteenth began dancing as a boy and worked hard at it every day. He turned ballet into a form of dance that showed people his power and influence.  There were hundreds of rules and thousands of details in dance, and if you could dance, it showed the world that you had power and importance too.  The king made sure that ballet became a requirement for the people in his court.

We touched into some science of the human body, discovering our spine, vertebrae
and core muscles.  With some movement activities that I have choreographed into our lesson plan they have begun to discover the correct placement of the spine and how to hold in their abdominal muscles.

We spent some time at the barre learning how to hold onto it correctly and going over a few exercises. The exercises are designed to teach them about their feet, how to move through them and how our weight shifts as we flex or rise to relevé.

During center and cross floor I gave them exercises that coordinated with artistic expression and free movement. As we moved into our tap portion they used both math and musicality, finding and counting the steps and rhythm.

I would consider today a success.  Although we only made it through a small portion of the lesson I had planned, the girls responded with excitement and determination.  They even requested a few of our exercises be repeated before bed time.  They also made two very exciting discovers during play time that let me know they were paying attention.

The first was while swimming in the pool with Barbie.

Coppelia told me that Barbie had horrible posture and she didn't hold her back straight.  This ended up becoming an examination of all their dolls to see if any of them had it correct.

I think "Loving Family" wins.

Estee made a discovery while singing along to "Phantom of the Opera" (her current favorite)

"The tummy muscles that get sore when singing are the same ones I have to hold in during ballet."
She was correct. These muscles help us support breath control and are used for vocal projection.

I love my girls and feel so blessed I get to be a part of their education and training.  I hope they continue to connect ideas and make discoveries. It makes the adventure of exploring all the more exciting and the time I spend on lesson plans completely worth it!

1 comment:

  1. So awesome!!! I love that they share your passion and that you can be the first to give them some of the greatest experiences of their lives :)


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