Putting this Dancing through Time program together has been an interesting and rewarding learning experience. When we had set out to do this together, I was not too sure where to start. I knew what I wanted the end to look like: music students learning the dances of the Renaissance and Baroque eras. As with preparing lessons for a high school classroom, I was trying to work backwards from my goal. The good thing was that I was able to plan this out with our awesome team including Pedro and Yvonne.
When we went to pilot the program with the first middle school, Irons Middle School, we did not know what to expect. We had our plans, but, as with any lesson, we did not know how the students would act. While setting up, the orchestra director showed us her support and interest, and then the students came in. We began with setting up some contexts for our instruments: each of us played a solo. Then, we introduced the first dance song: a medieval dance. In order to ease the students into the program, we just had the students clap along as Pedro played.
Then, came the fun part. As we were doing our demonstration, I had counted the students and planned for how the dance would go. I had the plan I had written up at a Starbucks in my binder, and I was ready to see the students realize it. We again began with the students clapping with the Pavane. Then, I divided the students up to dance the step. I hadn’t imagined myself taking the role of a dance master, yet there I was. The students were mirroring and following me as we danced the Pavane, probably the first time in the whole district. Best of all, the students were participating. In fact, we were able to dance with partners and in formation!
On the next day, the demonstration at Irons helped us to know what to expect in the next school, York Middle School. We were blessed with both the support of the orchestra director and the willingness of the students to participate. Once again, the students clapped along with us before going into dancing the Pavane. They seemed to enjoy it, and that group seemed to pick up the steps even faster.
I am looking forward to continuing this program at other schools and with other dances. I hope that we will be able to have some jumping and some bowing as well. Who knows? Maybe we will have a whole masque!
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