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make your day dance

Persistence — learned in dance class

February 11th, 2011 · 5 Comments · Tags: ···

Yesterday I was preparing 4 groups to perform on Monday. It’s always touch-and-go. I want whatever we’re rehearsing to challenge them to practice new skills.  But I don’t want rehearsal to usurp too many of our sessions together.

I taught my 3rd graders a lovely dance I learned from Sanna Longden last week — “I Don’t Care if the Rain Comes Down.”  Once they were over the shock and ickiness of changing partners with each repeat (which is one of the skills I wanted them to practice), they were so lively & engaged dancing it, I thought, “OK, let’s show this!”

Tuesday we worked out a lot of kinks & it was looking good, but yesterday we did it again & again, and each time some kid would be standing there without a partner.  There is nobody quite so forlorn-looking as a 3rd grader, boy or girl, without a partner.  An orphan, miserable from rejection & abandonment.  Not a pretty sight to put on stage…

We tried again & again.  We fixed the two kids who were running, the one who was passing others in line, the one who was anticipating her next partner incorrectly & the game of tag that cropped up between 2 dancers.  Still we couldn’t get through the dance without orphans & it was a different problem every time.  I decided I’d misjudged — they couldn’t do it!  In an attempt to salvage our time together & let them feel successful, I decided to called it quits, apologized for choosing a dance that might be too hard & suggested we give it up for now & have some fun.

They wouldn’t have it.  The room was noisy with problem-solving.  Finally, out of the noise, a hand went up:  “Why don’t we try it without the music?”  They voted: a resounding yes!  So we did.  We sang the song slowly, we stopped at each transition, we checked, we corrected, we restarted again & again. Finally, it started to flow, from phrase to phrase, partner to partner, without stopping, no mistakes, everyone with a partner. Each time we completed a round, they looked happier — and really satisfied!

Finally, we ran it with the music again.  This time, not only were they energetic, changing & finding partners, but as they passed each other in clockwise & counterclockwise circles, they were smiling & waving to each person they passed!  Hopefully, they’ve made all the mistakes that can be made, and they’ll perform it with smiles & waves. But the performance is less important than the persistence already achieved.

5 Comments so far ↓

  • EatToANewBeat

    Hey! Great dance blog!

    I wanted to let you know about a new teen dance contest sponsored by Applegate Farms. It’s called “Eat To A New Beat” and has a great message behind the contest. All the info’s in the press release: or on our website: Feel free to share with your readers. Thanks!

  • kw

    Thank you for this post Meg. Always checking in for a bit of inspiration from time to time. This is just what I needed for myself right now- a reminder that persistence is the only way through a tough challenge. Thank you for writing. It is very encouraging to read about your work.

  • megrm

    Thanks for being there & responding! Persistence is sort of the story of my life this year — I’ve had my hands full & it’s been hard to find time to write — but it really clears my head when I do! All the better when someone answers…

  • michelle Hippensteel

    I am really enjoying your website right now. I am especially interested, because I just got a job as a dance specialist at a charter school that starts in September. Any advice. I start my “teacher training:” in July, and I have to learn a whole assessment and grading process.

  • megrm

    Congratulations on the job! Those steep learning curves are tough but engaging. The assessment and grading process, of course, depends on the school, community & state — expectations & standards and all. Feel free to ask specific questions here or email as you discover what you’re needing to know more about: mahoney.megr@gmail.