For this third week of volunteering, the class focused more on contemporary dance and being able to pick up technical choreography. There were also acrobatic elements incorporated into the choreography and it was interesting to see some of the kids explore a new form of movement. We spent the second half of class researching different parts of North Carolina, its nature, and its culture. From what I gathered, they are doing a project outside of class about North Carolina and are incorporating dance into it as well.
The kids are becoming more comfortable with me and it’s been fun to get to know their unique personalities more. Talking with them during breaks and showing them some of my old acro tricks made them laugh a lot. One of the girls who I mentioned in a previous post even came up to me to say that I was her favorite dance teacher, which made my day.
I’m currently reaching out to Ms. Sutton again to brainstorm ideas for a long-term partnership between DA and NCAIA because I don’t want the work I’ve done to disappear once I graduate. NCAIA is an amazing organization and it would be awesome if other DA students can continue to participate in and help them with their mission.
This week I had my second session of volunteering at the NCAIA program. This weekend, two of the teachers from last week weren’t able to make it to class so it was just me and one other teacher. As a result, I ended up doing taking on more responsibility, teaching, and demonstrating more. I helped lead warmups, demonstrated all of the combinations, and took half the class to practice choreography and give corrections for the second half of class. It was super fun to be able to take on a larger role of teaching and interacting with the kids. I really enjoyed giving corrections and helping kids learn the choreography. It was also really heartwarming to connect with kids who I had begun forming relationships with last week. This session focused on picking up choreography quickly and learning the details of a combination. A choreographer taught the students African dance with live drumming and I could tell that the kids were excited about the new experience. It will be interesting to see what new dance styles we practice next week.
This Saturday I volunteered for the first time at City Ballet in Raleigh in partnership with the NCAIA. I worked as an assistant teacher demonstrating combinations and helping students who were struggling. The class was fairly large with about 20-25 students ages 3rd grade to young middle schoolers. The teachers were really kind, supportive, and enthusiastic about our partnership.
For the first hour of class, we worked on warmups and learning a final combination for their culminating dance performance. The combination was a creative call and response piece that taught the students how to balance movement, pauses, and speaking and working at different timing than the teacher. I noticed that the class and teachers focused on engaging the students and encouraging them to move freely and confidently. The environment was incredibly supportive and more flexible than a typical studio class.
For the second hour of class, the students had a “glow party” where the teachers and I set up glow stick crafts, light up balloons, and music so that the kids could have a fun free-dance class. The kids had so much fun dancing in the dark with their glowing glasses and bracelets and I could tell that they felt super confident. I noticed that one girl, who had been very shy during the studio part of class, completely let loose during the glow party and was dancing her heart out the entire time. It was really amazing to see how passionate all the kids were about dancing and having fun with their friends and myself.
This week I was able to finalize a volunteer opportunity for this winter/spring! I continued talking with Ms. Sutton from NCAIA and we were able to confirm three dates in February (11, 18, and 25) for me to come to their dance classes and assist in teaching. I am super excited to work with NCAIA for the next month, and hopefully for months after as well!
Additionally, this week in dance, a hip hop dancer and choreographer named José Velasquez worked with us as a dance instructor. He taught us a lot about the history of hip hop as well as inequalities in the dance world. His discussion was fascinating and overlapped a lot with the research I did first semester, so I’d be interested in interviewing him this semester if he has availabilities.