Movement Exchange 6 Part Series: Part 5

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Day 5

This morning we took an awesome Aerial class! Aerial is NO joke. If you ever watch an Aerial performance¬†and it looks easy to you, it’s not!!

Much respect for Aerialists and for our teacher who was very encouraging!

I loved this class because it was challenging like the Contemporary class. I pushed myself to do many of the movements and succeeded in most. But, DAMN, I had no idea the upper body strength needed for Aerial.

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My partner Kourtney! She had a tough time doing some of the movements and I could see at some point she felt like giving up, but in the end she conquered the difficulty of the movements! Fall down seven times, stand up eight ūüôā
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Hayley kicking ass
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I’m very grateful that I got to take an Aerial class with this beautiful group of women.

Last Day at Aldea SOS Panam√°

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One of the kids showing Caeli, Kim and Hayley a dance move perhaps?!
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playing the name/movement game!
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across the floor practicing different motor skills

Performance Time!

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The older group performing!
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The younger group performing!

After the performance, one of the older girls asks if we can do the Bollywood dance again. I am really surprised that she, along with some of the older kids want to do it again. I put on Balam Pichkari (the song used for the choreography) and we bust out the moves one last time!

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Group photos are the best!
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Packing up and giving last minute hugs ūüôā

Movement Exchange (NOW 6) Part Series: Part 4

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Day 3

Starting the morning by hiking to the top of Ancon Hill :D
Started the morning by hiking to the top of Ancon Hill (which overlooks Panama City) ūüėÄ
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Then we make our way over to the University of Panamá; Kim leads warm-up.
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Kim and Olivia lead a combination!
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Olivia starts teaching this bad-ass choreography

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Everyone loved the class!
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After we eat lunch, we drive to Aldea SOS Panam√°. It’s been a long day already, but I’m loving every moment of it!
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Around twenty minutes after arriving, it’s time to dance! After Kim leads a warm-up, Ruby leads across the floor!
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¬†I’m teach¬†a Bollywood piece that I learned from Dance to Unite Teacher, Vaishali

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End of first day at Aldea SOS Panam√°!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Day 4

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Contemporary class that was very fun and challenging!

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Folkloric class at the University of Panam√°

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Last day at Malambo! We start off by working with the little kids first. Hayley and Olivia lead the class!
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Meanwhile, the other group works with the older girls. Jenn is leading warm-up!
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I had a chance to teach Bellydance choreo that I learned from Dance to Unite Teacher, Nooshi
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The other group switched over to work with the little ones. Here is Ruby and Jenn!

Lessons Learned

¬† ¬† ¬†1. Accepting that I’m a beginner dancer and I may not catch onto choreography as quickly as more advanced dancers. As Olivia said one time, “everyone has their own dance journey”.

2. Be more confident when I teach.

3. Sometimes letting the kids lead dance activities helps them stay more engaged.

4. Asking kids what they want to listen to may motivate them to participate more. One of the little girls was persistent in letting me know she wanted to listen to Don Omar’s “Zumba”. I played the song and she kept asking me to play it over and over again. So I learned that making dance classes really student-centered can change the dynamic.

5. I need to listen to more music from Central and Latin America!

I found Remezcla, a website dedicated to Latin culture and music!

Movement Exchange 5 Part Series: Part 3

Monday, June 8, 2015

Day 3

Today we are at the University of Panam√°!

Olivia and I
Olivia and I

Before Hayley and Kate teach a class we go on a tour of the university. I love that there is so much beautiful and cool art on the walls!

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Outside the dance studio we see a board describing Black Ethnicity Month

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Soon class starts, and after a brief warm-up, Hayley begins with a¬†Brain Dance exercise involving three partners. Then we do an awesome combination across the floor called “Running Man”. Shout out to Hayley for helping me, because I had a hard time catching on!

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 Then Kate leads a really cool activity where we have a balloon and we have to keep it in the air while dancing. We do this solo and then with partners. I love the activity because it makes me think how to use my body creatively!

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 Then Hayley continues the class with some awesome choreography. It is really hard for me to catch on quickly, but I try not to be hard on myself because I started dancing last year.

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Class goes¬†by so fast! For the most part I am¬†present during the whole session, there are¬†a couple of moments when I become really self-conscious. I have a chance to briefly talk to one student! I wish we could have a pre-session where we do community building activities and get to know each other first. But, it was SO cool dancing together ūüėÄ

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Post¬†dance class we go¬†to the cafeteria and have lunch (rice, lentil beans and meatballs with passion fruit juice…mmmMMMm)!

Afterward we head over to Malamabo, an all girls orphanage outside of Panamá City. When we arrive we go on a tour of the orphanage, stopping in the baby and toddler wing and then each house arranged by age.

We split into our teaching groups. Hayley and Olivia lead the name game and warm-up ( I love introductions!) and Kim leads across the floor!

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¬†I teach the Bellydance choreography I learned in the Dance to Unite class I assisted this past year with teacher, Nooshi. I am really nervous and mess up a little, but Tinna and Olivia help me by translating. The girls learn the choreography quickly and ask for more. I’m really happy they like it! They ask me to perform for them and at first I’m really nervous and feel awkward, like I’m taking up time that should be used for something else. But, they keep asking so I do the whole dance.¬†Afterward, one of the girls asks me questions about Bellydance, about the music¬†I played and if she can see a photo of Nooshi.¬†I think, how cool it is that girls in another part of the world are learning the same¬†dance students in our Dance to Unite¬†Bronx class learned! I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be here, to teach and learn from the other volunteers ūüôā

I feel like the girls wanted to see more because maybe they have not seen Bellydance or heard Arabic music before. The moment I was performing I felt like Dance to Unite was shining through me because they were being exposed to a dance form they possibly (because I don’t know) had not seen before. Being exposed to another culture through dance can cause people to become curious and want to learn more about that culture.

During NYC Dance Week, I took a Classical Japanese dance class at RESOBOX in Queens!

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Just taking one Classical Japanese dance class has encouraged me to learn more about Japanese culture and history, and connect with Japanese people.

¬†I’ve had friends from many different backgrounds, but I haven’t had many Asian friends (from Korea, China, Japan). As a kid I didn’t learn about any Asian cultures (and that’s why I am a strong advocate for¬†multicultural music, art, literature and general education during¬†early childhood) and so I grew up¬†being around Asian kids in class¬†but I did not know¬†anything about their culture.¬†I grew up in disconnection, whether disconnected from knowledge, disconnected from interaction and even just plain exposure. It wasn’t until recently that I started asking why is that? For example, I’m obsessed with traveling, but I initially shied away from traveling to some Asian countries. I asked myself why, and I think it’s because I was never exposed to different Asian cultures in school, home or saw images of Asians on television and movies. Now that I recognize this, I want to travel to different countries in Asia (and find media outlets that focus on different¬†Asian communities)! But, even before that happens, there’s plenty to learn here in New York City! I want to continue to take Classical Japanese classes and visit the Japanese Society¬†this summer.

Cheers to Dance to Unite and Movement Exchange!

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Movement Exchange 5 Part Series: Part 2

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Day 2

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We travel an hour and a half from Panamá City to Portobelo, Colón, a region of Panamá with a large Afro-Panamanian community.

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Here we are on a boat ride!

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We later stop at a market with crafts created by the Kuna people, an ethnic group in Panamá. Above is a photo of a woman selling molas.

Afterward, we head to Aldea SOS Colón!

When we arrive, our bus pulls inside what reminds of a gated community. What I would come to learn with all the other orphanages is that there are little houses where the kids stay based on age. In each house (at this particular orphanage) there is a living room, small kitchen, dining table,  a certain number of rooms where the kids sleep and a bathroom.

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  Before we start dancing, the Tias of the house cook a meal for us! We all talk about how delicious the food is, especially the rice which has been cooked in coconut water.

After we clean up, we start dancing with the kids!

My group throughout the trip includes Olivia, Hayley and Kim.

We work with the older group first, beginning¬†with¬†a name game where a person says his or her name and compliments their name with a movement. Then everyone says the person’s name and copies the move. ¬†Afterward we some more dance/movement activities.

My group doing mirror partner dancing with the older kids
My group and the older kids mirror dancing with partners
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Kim and Olivia leading across the floor!

For rest of the time, we practice a very cool combination that Kim created.

Not too far away, the other group works with the little kids!

Ruby, Kourtney, Jenn, Chaeli and Kate dancing with the little ones
Ruby, Kourtney, Jenn, Caeli and Kate dancing with the little ones

When it’s our turn to work with the little ones, we play the name game again. But soon they¬†became restless so we bring¬†out the hula hoops, light up balls and drawing paper. I’m caught up in talking to one of the girls, she’s telling me to hold her light up ball so that no one takes it when it suddenly starts pouring. And I mean pour! There is no warning, no trickling of rain…it is¬†like several clouds have been holding their bladders for way too long and just can’t¬†handle it anymore.¬†¬†Some of the volunteers and kids¬†dance in the rain, others continue drawing or playing with the hula hoops. After a while¬†we move to where the older kids are¬†dancing and it becomes an all out dance party. First, each group performs the routines they learned and then we have a kick-ass cypher.

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The memory of dancing in the rain with everyone will always be etched in my mind. I can hear the pouring rain now, I can see different people dancing in the circle and the moment Tinna and one of the girls have a mini dance off!

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Good times!

We are having so much fun, it’s hard to leave. But, when we do say goodbye to the kids, I think to myself, “man I wish I had more time with them” (because you know haha, my Spanish was horrible and I really want to talk to them more!).

When we get back¬†to Magnolia Inn, we take showers and get dressed to eat at¬†a nearby cafe. I love walking through the streets in Casco Viejo ( the historic district where the hostel is located) and observing my surroundings. I feel like a tourist though, like I’m looking at everything through a snow globe or something. I’m very far away, where even though I’m close, I can’t see the details of Panam√°, of the people. I know that spending more time here could erase some of that feeling, and hopefully (even though it’s only the second day) I can return to Panam√° to really understand and learn about the country. ¬†After we sit down and order food, Tinna officially welcomes us to Movement Exchange. Everyone goes¬†around the table to talk about their¬†apples and onions (our ups and downs during the day). My apple is¬†of course, the whole day! My onion is¬†the language barrier and having a hard time having a conversation without stumbling over words (I SHOULD HAVE LEARNED IN MIDDLE SCHOOL, HIGH SCHOOL, COLLEGE…hellooo Simone what were you doing all those years?!!). ¬†Despite that onion, ¬†I had so much fun!

Key Lessons Learned:

1. I’ll always remember the¬†experience of¬†dancing despite the down pour and applying this to the challenges in my life

2. I need to build my movement vocabulary

3. DEFINITELY need to work on my Spanish

Movement Exchange in Panam√°!

A day before December 25, 2014 I wrote a letter to myself:

Dear Simone,

It’s the day before Christmas, a couple of days more before the new year. I encourage you to live bravely, boldly and fully in 2015. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid.

Love,

Simone

To 2015…

movement exchangeIf you would have asked me if I were going abroad for the first time in my life, to volunteer with a dance service organization, I would have said “I wish!”. I would have quickly chipped the possibility down to a nub by over-analyzing how it WOULD’T WORK…no money, no time, I just started dancing again,¬†will I be good enough to teach? I would have been swallowed by all of that, literally in one gulp. But because I was absolutely floored when I found Movement Exchange on a Ballet blog called “Setting the Barre”,¬†and because I immediately applied, I didn’t¬†have a chance to think about why it wouldn’t work.

Move-Ex in PanamaAnd here I am getting ready to travel to Panamá tomorrow to be a Dance Diplomat with Move-Ex. I applied to volunteer because of the combination of dance, working with kids, travel, social change and connecting with and learning from others.

When I first learned that I was accepted to participate in the open call I was 100% excited and 0% afraid. Every step I took to move closer to actually going to Panam√°, my excitement level increased. My fear level also increased, so much that the last few days I’ve been asking myself “am I supposed to be doing this?”, “do I belong here?” and “what are you doing Simone?”.

Though I still have some anxiety, I snapped out of that mindset. Volunteering with Movement Exchange could be a wonderful way to give, learn and grow and I want to be fully present to experience it all. Follow my group’s Move-Ex dance adventure, we will be blogging throughout the week!

Stay tuned for these future posts:

Around the World: A Benefit for Dance to Unite 

My Experience as a Dance Diplomat with Movement Exchange 

My first year as a Dance to Unite Volunteer 

Dear Dance Teachers…You Live, You Learn

Yoga, One Love

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Tal, Kayla and two students!

Since I started volunteering with Dance to Unite last October, many new Teachers and Teacher Assistants have joined the organization. I wanted to visit a few other classes before the end of the school year and had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago. After work I made my way to the Lower East Side to join¬†Tal’s yoga class at PS 140.

When I first walk in I see a room filled with kids preparing for class and see Tal welcome me¬†with a big smile! I then say hello to Teaching Assistants Brooke, Kayla and Bar ( I always love getting to know the other volunteers). We all sit on our light and dark green mats in a circle and Tal starts the class¬†by asking us, “what makes you happy?”. Everyone shares their answers by passing around a small ball (like passing around a talking stick) using our legs and feet. A few kids say they are happy to have pets. I say I’m happy to have my glasses in order to see. After that activity, Tal begins Circle Talk by introducing what she called the word of the day:

Giving

Tal continues Circle Talk by discussing how Giving is when you give someone a physical gift or kind words from the heart. She asks the kids about times they have given something or kind, loving words. It is a really great Circle Talk and the kids have some great responses!

After Circle Talk the class show me their fusion Hip-Hop yoga dance, choreographed by Kayla who teaches a Hip-Hop/Jazz class in Chinatown. As I’m watching I become inspired. I don’t know why but I am. I¬†love how the yoga poses align with a Hip-Hop song about love. After they practice once, I join in on the second practice. While I was dancing I felt like I could see this happening in classes around NYC. Yoga and Hip-Hop have a bright future. Dance to Unite has a bright future!

¬†Students (and Brooke to the upper far right!) performing Hip Yoga to MC Yogi’s “Give Love”¬†

After practicing the choreography we play freeze dance. I LOVE FREEZE DANCE PEOPLE. Bar plays different songs like Becky G’s “Shower”,¬†and the rest of us dance in a moving circle doing our own dances and when the music stops, we freeze in a yoga pose. Other times the group dances in a moving circle and follows the leader’s movements and then FREEZE…Tree pose or Boat pose! Of course everytime the music stops the only yoga pose that comes to my mind is tree pose. I think to myself, I need to get back into yoga because my asana vocabulary is lacking!

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I absolutely loved Tal’s yoga class. Kids need movement, it’s healthy for their bodies and brains. Yoga is one of many ways to get kids moving and aware of their bodies.¬†I love that¬†yoga can be adapted to the world of childhood, that it can be really fun and uplifting and a great foundation for when children want to continue to explore and practice yoga as they get older.

Tal’s 6 Tips for¬†Teaching¬†Yoga for Kids

Tal

1. Establish a certain routine for each class- start with a calming breathing exercise to calm the body and focus the mind. Using a chime is a great centering activity.

2.¬†When teaching yoga poses, there’s no need to provide too many detailed directions- keep it simple and the children will naturally follow through.¬†Younger¬†children in¬†particular,¬†enjoy¬†practicing poses that mimic animals like dog, snake, etc.

3.Kids enjoy stretching to a sun salutation sequence (a traditional yogic warm up). Incorporate songs that direct children to follow a particular flow of movements.

*Kids of all ages love Kira Willey’s¬†‘Dance for the Sun’¬†¬†

4.¬†Create¬†a ‘kids’ Yoga playlist’¬†¬†with all the songs that you will use for each class¬†¬†–¬†choose current music that kids enjoy listening to but make sure that you listen to the lyrics first as some songs may have inappropriate words¬†or themes.

5.¬†Incorporate Yoga games and other activities that allow children to release excess energy-kids¬†can’t get enough of playing ‘Freeze Dance yoga’- they love to dance to their favorite tunes and¬†find creative ways to freeze and¬†connect poses with their peers¬†–¬†it’s a great way to foster a sense of community within the classroom and promote our Dance to Unite’s¬†mission of unity and peace!

6. End each class with savasana (Sanskrit word for ‘relaxation’)- most children (especially older¬†ones)¬†embrace and appreciate the opportunity to relax on their yoga mat at the end of the class. Put on¬†soothing background music like nature sounds or use a variety of guided meditations.

The students in our 5th grade¬†yoga¬†class frequently request the following guided meditation:¬†‘Water- journey into the Ocean’ by Chitra Sukhu.¬†¬†¬†
  
Tal has been a devoted practitioner of Dahn Yoga (Korean style) for the past 7 years. Her¬†passion for working with children as well as for the philosophy and practice of yoga sparked her interest in getting¬†certified as a Yoga instructor by¬†‚ÄėYogaKids‚Äô; an internationally accredited program…(read more of her bio)

Dear Dance Teachers, my Hip Hop Quest started something like this…

This is my first Dear Dance Teachers post. As a new dance teacher (literally just hatched haha) currently gaining experience as a Dance to Unite volunteer, I want to learn as much as possible about what it means to be a dance teacher and how to teach a class in a fun and effective way. Look out for Dear Dance Teachers posts sharing teaching tips. 

I went on a mini Hip-Hop quest at the beginning of February to find appropriate Hip-Hop songs for kids. I knew I would have a difficult time finding songs without lyrics purely revolving or hinting around sex, drugs and violence, but I didn’t know it would be THAT difficult.

I wish there was a plethora of Hip-Hop songs for kids. Children and Young Adult Literature exists and flourishes because the need for it is acknowledged, valued, recognized and given attention. It would be a cool if there was a whole genre of Kid/Teen Hip-Hop with age appropriate lyrics and relatable content that received as much respect as explicit songs/artists do. Maybe Nicki’s “Anaconda” beat could go with a song about doing well in school or putting lyrics about negative experiences with bullying and overcoming the situation¬†to Timbaland’s “Bounce”.

I wouldn’t tell any Hip-Hop artist with explicit content to change because that’s their art and artists create what they want. Not only that but I just realized that it makes no sense to complain about the content of some Hip-Hop and Rap and how it sends the wrong messages to kids. Not because it’s not true (it’s true all right!) but because I’m not looking in the right place. I’m not sure many Hip-Hop and Rap artists with explicit content are thinking about kids/teens while they are in the studio.

 So where is the right place to look?

There’s something missing.

It would be so cool if there were music review websites and a ceremony like the Grammys or Billboard Music Awards dedicated to artists who created Hip-Hop and Rap exclusively for youth. If any Hip-Hop or Rap artists out there are reading this, whether you are well-known or just starting out, kids and teenagers need songs too!

Below are ideas for your Hip-Hop class! The playlists by no means represent all of Hip-Hop.

Song Suggestions and Tips

Note: Many of the songs below are still explicit, I suggest this list because there are parts of different songs that you can use.

Tip #1: Using the following keywords during research can be helpful: Hip-Hop, Old School, clubbanger songs, playlist, remix, dance trends, instrumental

Kid-Friendly and Semi-Kid Friendly Hip-Hop

Old School Hip-Hop

Tip#2: Find Hip-Hop songs with lyrics or just instrumental on these four online platforms: Spotify, Soundcloud, Youtube and Pandora.

Hip-Hop Dance Trends

Tip#3: Youtube Hip-H0p Dance Trends from past and present

Remember the Harlem Shake Craze?!

Check out the Original Harlem Shake below!

Fusion

Tip#4: Fusing Hip-Hop with other genres:Hip-Hop+R&B, Pop, Rock and Roll, music from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, musicals, film soundtracks, dancefloor hits ranging from house to dubstep

Tip#5.Taking parts of songs that are explicit and creating a medley

Tip#6. Slow Hip-Hop ( I realize routines don’t always have to be fast-paced Hip-Hop)

Tip#7. You’re sitting in your car at a stoplight and you hear the car beside you playing this really cool song, or you’re at a party and you really want to know the name of the song getting everybody on the dance floor. This is where Shazam comes in. Many people already know about this app. I love Shazam, the idea is genius. Whenever you’re on the go and you hear Hip-Hop (and other) songs you would like to try in your class, pull out your phone and Shazam, you know the name and artist of the song!

Tip#8. Research music review/media sites based in other countires and look for Hip-Hop artists/dancers from around the world like Les Twins

Looking at Youtube videos of parents dancing with their kids can be inspiring too!

If you have any ideas for Hip-Hop songs, please comment below!

The Adventure is Only Beginning

I have been a Teacher’s Assistant for four months now. I can’t believe I’m actually assisting in a Bollywood and Kathak and Bellydance class. Before joining Dance to Unite I had no idea about either of these dance styles. Last August I had the opportunity to attend Claude Stein’s “Natural Singer” for five days at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York.¬†It was a ¬†workshop¬†for people who a) wanted to sing more because of pure enjoyment b) people who wanted to overcome their fear and anxiety of singing (even if they weren’t singing in front of people) and c) people who wanted to overcome their fear and anxiety of performing in front of crowds (me!) whether they were amateur or professional singer-songwriters. It was at Omega, during break time when dance sessions were offered, that I found myself in a dance studio, consumed by Bellydance music (I didn’t know from what country), tying a bright orange, pure white or red chiffon hip scarf around my waist. The teacher, with such a stunning presence, directed us to move our hips in a figure eight shape. We moved our arms slowly like the movements of a serpent and danced with colorful veils. Some sessions we danced with traditional golden Thai fingernails. I was sold on it all, I wanted to learn more about Bellydance and Thai dance. I thought it was so funny that two months later I would learn my first volunteer experience with Dance to Unite would be helping Nooshi with Bellydance.

I recently learned about Fifi Abdou, an Egyptian Bellydancer and actress. 

I’m also researching¬†more about different kinds of music that Belly dancers use. I really like the late Warda Al Jazairia, an Algerian and Lebanese singer born in France.¬†

In November I joined Vaishali’s class and like I said in another post, at the same time I was taking a Bollywood and Bhangra class with Ajna Dance. Then I started a new job working with Teaching Artists and my first assignment was assisting a Bhangra class for third, fourth and fifth graders in the Bronx. It was taught by a professional dancer trained in Odissi, a classical Indian dance. I have gained so much exposure to Indian culture and dance, but there is so much more that I want to learn and understand.

Nava Durga- Odissi

Odissi Dance “Sthayee” by Rahul Acharya at the International Odissi Festival (2006)

Mini Class Update 

In both classes we have covered the following steps from Dance to Unite’s “13 Steps to Unity”; Dance to Unite’s mission, culture, unity, acceptance and respect. The last time I posted a class update, I wrote about how the students and teachers shared their backgrounds and cultures during Circle Talk. In the two classes after that concept, we talked about unity. It was interesting to hear the students talk about their experiences regarding division between different cultures and races/ethnicities and their thoughts on what perpetuates lack of unity among people of different backgrounds. One student described a friendship that was ruined because of differences and felt it¬†was stupid. Another explained how people don’t take time to get to know each other on a personal or/and cultural level. Others spoke about the¬†unfairness of overgeneralizing a people and held a discussion on why people are grouped together as being this (negative) and that (negative) instead of being viewed as an individual responsible¬†for their own actions. We ¬†continued by asking the students how they could embody unity in their lives.

“Just say hi to someone who is different than you,” one girl said.

“Dancing with others who are different is unity,” said another.¬†

In Nooshi’s class, (which by the way, another volunteer Katrina has joined us!) we talked about acceptance, including everything from accepting other people’s differences, to other people’s opinions, accepting ourselves and annoying mothers who just don’t understand. ¬†When we talked about respect a lot of the conversation turned toward (cyber)bullying, how to prevent oneself from bullying, how to respond to it and seeing things from another person’s perspective. There are really opinionated girls and others who do not share their thoughts (next class we’re going to encourage them to share).

Sometimes Circle Talk runs over a bit because we are having such a great conversation. We are like archaeologists, excavating and examining not only deep issues, but most importantly solutions (Dance to Unite emphasizes the positive) through personal stories, and returning to the surface shining a light on positive responses, attitudes and behaviors we are capable of doing when the going gets tough. And boy, these conversations can sometimes be a little tough. Many children and teenagers know what’s going on in the world, they know about racism, sexism, isms ect. And what I find in these two classes is that the kids bring up real world issues that they face directly or happen to others. I like this because the students learn how the 13 Steps to Unity¬†can be applied to¬†real world situations (look out for a future post on the 13 Steps to Unity and the complexity and simplicity of fostering cross-cultural relationships/communities).

I’m also starting to feel more comfortable about discussing DtU’s concepts knowing I have work to do on myself. I don’t think spreading positive messages is exclusive to perfect people (who are qualified because they are perfect)…because perfect people don’t exist. Just as a regular teacher learns while she or he is teaching, ¬†Dance to Unite teachers can learn more about themselves regarding the 13 Steps to Unity. I just want to say this because positive messages will be buried-six feet-under messages if the sentiment is that perfect people should spread unity, acceptance and peace. I understand walking the walk and talking to talk. However, we all learned how to walk and we all learned how to talk, it’s a process.

Dance to Unite provides a broader horizon of options on how to show up in the world. To me, underlying each concept is power and in every class we are teaching kids all the different (super)powers they have; uniting with different people, and respecting themselves and others. And then after all that, we dance!

Kathak choreography in the beginning in Vaishali’s class

Tying our colorful¬†chiffon hip scarves in Nooshi’s class and starting with a warm-up

Sometimes classes are challenging because the students are talking too much, not listening, not feeling motivated to participate or come in late. But that’s just a part of the ups and downs of class. Learning how to deal with those challenges are learning lessons for the teachers and I.

Stay tuned for more posts about finding appropriate Hip-Hop songs for kids, more classes at Cumbe, my secret dream to be a Bellydancer performer and my first attempt at choreography!

Mondays at Achievement First Endeavor Middle School in Brooklyn

Bollywood and Kathak with Vaishali 

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Thursdays at Entrada Academy in the Bronx

Bellydance with Mehrnoush

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