Taking More than Two to Tango
I’ve spent time discussing how the musical aspects of Rockademix come together, so now I’m going to discuss how I incorporate movement and dance into the program. After all, it is this multi-modal approach to learning that really makes Rockademix unique.
For the first couple of songs, the kids and I came up with moves ourselves. The collaboration and input they contributed was invaluable. For example, we’d have a few students create moves, and we’d vote on them. Sometimes, one of our boys would point out that a particular move was “too girlie” and not something he was psyched about doing. Another student would remind me that they don’t particularly enjoy dancing and specific moves we were piloting simply weren’t “cool” enough to make them want to jump aboard. This sort of real student feedback is critical during these stages of the Rockademix program; and that’s why it’s so important that I am test driving the assets of Rockademix with a real class of nearly 25 students ages 5-11. We want this program to work for all students – not only for girls or those who already have a passion for dance.
Eventually, after we determined the moves we’d use with a song, we had a parent volunteer model everything for the DVD we sent home with the entire class. While this process of creating and documenting dance moves was awesome, it was taking a ton of time. To streamline the creation and documenting of dance moves, I hired a choreographer. I showed her the new songs we were working on, discussed the meanings of the lyrics, and off she went to come up with her own.
When she came and presented the moves she’d created, we went back and forth about moves I liked and those I didn’t. We discussed how the moves that were eventually adopted needed to tell a story and most importantly, appeal to everyone. They also needed to be adaptable for small spaces so teachers could easily use them in their classrooms. She eventually returned with a dynamic series of moves that involved the whole body. This was especially important as most of what the kids and I were creating involved only our arms and hands.
Another important set of criteria for Rockademix moves is that they must be developmentally appropriate, and that they help kids with physical skills. To get help in this area, I hired an occupational therapist (OT). Occupational therapists often work with kids in schools to help meet their physical needs. Over the past months, our OT has been fantastic about letting us know possible adaptations and accommodations so students with special needs can also effectively take part in the program.
I recently brought all of these parties – the kids, myself, the choreographer, and the OT- together. It was amazing because we went over some simple guidelines for participation and collaboration, and the next thing you know 5-year-olds, 11-year-olds, the teacher (me), OT, and choreographer are having a really serious and animated discussion on the merits of the songs’ proposed moves! We hashed out some of the moves the choreographer suggested, adapting them with the knowledge from the OT and infused them with suggestions from the kids.
The entire process was amazing – everyone from our five- and eight-year-olds, boys and girls, and professional expertise – lent something to the final product. And, as a result, we have a fresh set of moves for our new song that I can’t wait to share! So stay tuned!.