As a teaching artist for New York City Ballet I visit public elementary schools around New York City and introduce them to ballet. It's a great program, just this week all the schools in the program went to Lincoln Center and got the opportunity to see the Nutcracker! In the program the students write their own Fairy Tales and my job is to collaborate with them to come up with ballet and creative movement to tell the story. Yesterday, I visited 1st graders in Queens and they had characters and settings for us to explore together. I thought I would share with you how we infused ballet and made the story.
Look at this dark and scary forest! What comes to mind?In one of the classes the setting was a dark and scary forest! I mean just think of all the movement images that you can think of when you hear those words. The kids had so many ideas- 1) growing slowly into releve 2) making a trees shape with arms and legs as branches 3) wind- swaying back and forth 4) storm-turning 5) breaking branches to fall to the ground
* Helpful Hint- I used my drum to help them make a mini-dance out of it, the sounds really help them remember the order
We then thought of animals that we would find in the dark and scary forest. They thought of a hungry fox, hungry wolf, bats (this one is super fun, we flew around and then we slept upside down) rabbits, snakes, owls and many more. I made sure we exhausted many of the movement these animals portray. They learned so much about the animals. Some of the students were naming animals that lived in the Jungle. That was a great opportunity for us to talk about animals that live in the forest vs. animals that live in the jungle! (Science lesson in a Ballet lesson, wow!)
Now look at these vegetables! What shapes do you see?
Another one of the classes wrote a story about a vegetable garden! (this is a new one for me, but so incredibly creative!) We made shapes of all the vegetables, even cilantro! There was a bird in their story, so we became a bluebird, peacock, crow, and a dove. It is a challenge to make them all look different when they are all the same animal. Next week we will put the vegetable shapes in rows to make it look like a garden. I can't wait to see what else this story brings.
After we were done exploring the movement and shapes in both classes, I split them up into two groups. This way, 1) I can teach them how to be a good audience 2) they can watch their classmates and see what the dance actually looks like. I told them to watch for any ballet movements they might see. They saw a lot of ballet and thought that the movement looked exactly like what their story was about!
Can you tell I love this? Leave a comment and tell me one activity you did this week that really worked and that you loved! I would love to hear!
In the meantime movecreateeducate...