Our dance and movement teacher, Dina Gray, created a movement game to evoke child-created, collaborative choreography for our pre-K class. Ms.Gray was encouraging a strong mind-body connection. After all, dancers and athletes do need mental sharpening to recall and execute their movements.
As is usual in our movement class, Ms. Gray began with a warm-up activity, "waking up" each of our body parts. After that, the students generally participate in two or three different activities, like fantasy storytelling through movement, or obstacle courses.
This time, it was a game. The children divided into groups, with some becoming the audience. On three large vinyl dice, Ms. Gray added the three elements of the movement vocabulary used routinely in her class: pathways, levels and specific types of movement.
Children took turns rolling a die to discover whether their group would be moving around the space skipping, sashaying, galloping or leaping. Another die determined whether they would be dancing on a high, medium or low level. The roll of a third die determined the pathway: zigzag, curvy or straight. Of course, the children had fun rolling the dice and being surprised by the outcomes.
With a burst of rhythmic and musical energy, the 4- and 5-year olds began their group dance, independently expressing their joy all around the large room.
What surprised me was how unified and inspired the students were while choreographing a dance together in those few moments. When the moment came to strike a pose to end the dance, the children even began reading each-other's gestures, deciding in a split second on a variation of similar or complimentary poses. It seemed like they were beginning to understand how to craft something that would have an impact on their audience. The audience applauded as the dance concluded and a new group formed to continue the session.
As always, the class ended with a "cool-down" relaxation to contemplative, peaceful music. Thank you, Ms. Gray.