Thursday, January 9, 2014

Our Partnership with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

This past semester of Allentown Academy, the second and third graders took part in a twelve-week Creative Movement course provided by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. We were fortunate to have an hour of dance every Monday as part of our program!

Our instructor was Miss Laura, an exceptional dancer. She lead us in the basics of expressing ourselves through imaginative movement and dance. Live accompaniment was provided by a percussionist, Mr. Dave. Many of our exercises involved us lining up on numbers and using an interesting movement to get to the other side of the gym, such as marching, galloping, hopping or even rolling. Mr. Dave's beat told us whether to dance fast or slow.

Some of our exercises involved lying on the floor. Miss Laura told us to make ourselves small like a seed, and then burst open and wave our limbs like a starfish.

We also learned about being safe while dancing. My favorite part was when visualized our space bubbles. To help us do this, we imagined that there were paint buckets of all sorts of colors at our feet. Miss Laura would tell us to dip our hands in the blue bucket and paint our bubble blue, and then orange, and then whatever color we wanted. Miss Laura also showed us the safe way to drop and roll, and how to spin without getting dizzy.

The Fourth and Fifth grade girls also got to trying dancing during our Creative Movement class. We would circle up and each person had a turn to show a dance. One exercise that was memorable was forming a machine. Each person did a movement that acted as a function in a factory assembly line. 

To compliment our dancing on Mondays, I had my second and third graders try making their own instruments during our stations in the library. We made pan pipes, maracas, guitars and drums. I asked my students if they would like to play during dance class...?

Some of our second and third graders preferred to make music with Mr. Dave, and made an excellent addition to the beats that other students danced to. 

By the end of the class, Miss Laura was having us create our own choreographed dances in small groups. She encouraged us to take a lot of thought in how we moved. We learned so much about what shape we took, whether we were engaging in positive or negative space, what level we were on, and whether we were moving in jagged, sharp movements versus soft and sinuous. Thanks to our instructor Laura Stokes, percussionist David O'Brien, Director of Education and Community Engagement Alyssa Herzog Melby and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre for providing us with worthwhile dance lessons!


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