Archive for June, 2012
WHY NOT DANCE?:
Why James Brown & Hip-Hop Need to Be In Our Schools
I thought I would do something a little different for this month’s blog. As some of you know, I am a dance educator in the schools. Today, at one of my elementary schools, we had our final sharing. About 50 kindergarteners danced for the school, community, family members, and friends. They shared what they had been working on the past few months together. Dance, drama, African storytelling, and music were woven into the mini-performance. It’s always a challenge to find ‘good’ music to use with kids. I just can’t jump up & down about John ‘Double Dream Hands’ Jacobson (Sorry, Ellen). Now, dancing to The Figureheads hip-hop music for kids… that inspires me to choreograph.
So here is some kid-friendly, funky music with a positive message that was a part of our day. I wish to share some music that you can use for your own residencies & in your own classrooms. Here it goes…
Photo Source: last.fm
Get Up Offa That Thing: James Brown
There is something about James Brown’s music that is so soulful that even the shyest child will feel the need to boogie. Little kids throw caution to the wind; rather than being stuck in their heads or letting fear/judgement hold them back, they move with such freedom & free of care. It is beautiful to watch. This tune is a must for any playlist.
Peace, Love & Happiness: G. Love & Special Sauce
Today, it was powerful to hear four & five year olds belting out the words “Peace, Love, Happiness” at the top of their lungs. And it was hard not to smile when watching the dancers dancing those words with such genuine purpose.
What really struck me was what took place after the sharing. One teacher approached a pushing incident (when leaving the gym) by referring to the lyrics of the song. Soon after, as I was ready to exit the school, two boys were sitting outside their classroom in the hallway. Educators, we all know what that means. They were not on task, had broken the rules, and were sent out of the classroom and into the hallway as a consequence. At the same time, a young student walked past the boys and said, “Didn’t you hear the song? You need to do peace, love, and happiness.” Just one of the many reasons why infusing a school culture with the arts is important. The arts addresses how we want your young ladies and gentlemen to not only act in school, but to demonstrate certain characteristics outside of the school day.
Born for a Reason: The Figureheads
How fun it was to have the audience dance along with us today! Moms, little brothers & sisters, teachers, etc. were all moving together and having fun with dance and this hip-hop song. The message in this song is crucial for our young people. They need to know they matter and were born for a reason. (Thank you, Angela Maiers. #youmatter) They need to feel appreciated and special in their little school worlds and carry that message into the future.
King Za Za of Hip-Hop Land brought some fun and beats to our African Storytelling.
Mover Music (Jump Up!): the Imagination Movers
A goal for all kindergarten teachers everywhere includes listening skills and following directions. This song helps with those skills. If you are lacking in confidence to dance with your students/artists, this is a great tune to use. Just press play and watch. Your little dancers will know exactly what to do. (It also addresses some of the kindergarten standards regarding direction words. i.e. UP, DOWN, AROUND, etc.)
We have included music and visual art in our schools for decades. Why not dance? There is nothing wrong (everything right ☺) with wanting to give our children an opportunity to feel like a star.
The teachers, other staff members, families, and students all left the sharing with smiles, thank you’s, and unbelievable pride for their little dancers. Dance can be magical for kids and it truly allowed for positivity and a sense of community to be ‘in the air’ for everyone in that gym today.
Dance and love,
Christina M. Ratatori, a.r.t. founding director
Contact ta.da (teaching. arts. dance. academics.) if you are interested in bringing dance to YOUR school, arts center, after school program, lunch enrichment group, etc. www.tada-llc.com