Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to help out with one of Core Dance’s most inspiring programs, Dynamic X-Change. Since 1993, Core Dance Teaching Artists have been using dance, to question, to connect, to heal, and to inspire. We work with many different schools and programs in Atlanta and Houston, with students of all ages. This winter (well, lately, it’s felt more like spring), alongside Stefanie Boettle, Core Dance Community Programs Facilitator, we welcomed students from The Global Village Project, a Decatur school dedicated to the education of refugee girls.
Our class had about 14 girls, ranging from 10 to 13 years old. To start off, we worked with the girls on building relationships with a circle of trust - an exercise created by Be The Peace Be The Hope, during which we gathered in a circle and spoke about what we would like to give and receive to the group (such as respect, happiness, and respect). We also taught a movement sequence was loosely based on the yoga exercise sun salutations, but we invited the girls to get creative and figure out ways that it could move through the space. After the first class, (we had them once a week for three weeks), we expanded our goals to working in partners, generating original movement, and learning the flexible definition of the word “dance”. After working with Stefanie and I, the girls described dance as “energy,” “movement,” and “partnerships.” During our final class, we introduced trust exercises, and had the girls partner up. They played with weight and balance by getting in and out of the floor by pressing their backs against one another, and with basic trust falls. One student didn’t want to participate when she first came to class, but became enthusiastic once we started the trust falls. There’s definitely something special about making a connection with a peer and working within a partnership!
In each class, the students were extremely excited to be with us in the studio, and everyone was really engaged. I don’t have a lot of teaching experience, so I was a bit anxious about the classes, but the girls were generally very focused, and Stefanie them through exercises easily. After observing and participating, mainly being an extra adult and helping when needed, during the first two classes, I eventually led exercises on my own in the final class. It was exhilarating to lead a group of students and to know that I was (hopefully!) inspiring them in some way.
Saying goodbye at the end of the final class was hard, and many of the girls felt sad that it was our last class, yelling “I’ll miss you!” as they walked out the doors. I’m also a little bit bummed that this session is over, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to train and expand my knowledge of teaching.
Barbara Branson, Publications Manager, and the People of Core Dance