As we head into another Thanksgiving and holiday season, I always like to take time to pause with my students and reflect on how lucky we are to do what we do. I try to engage in this conversation in different ways year after year by immersing classes in what we do best.......dance.
With all the hustle and bustle of the year passing by and time moving so quickly, it's easy to let these extra little teaching moments slip by, but I think it's important to have your dancers reflect on what dance means to them, why they are thankful for it in their lives and how they can express those emotions through art and movement.
The famous work, "La Danse" by Henri Matisse is a wonderful, complex painting which showcases the unity dance and dancers create and the joy and community it fosters. It is also approachable and relatable enough to serve as inspiration for an improvisation or choreographic activity for any age or level with it's bright colors and conversely simplistic depiction of people joining hands to dance.
This Thanksgiving week, try a group or class activity by showing your dancers this work and have them discuss or write out what it means to them in terms of thankfulness, dance, celebration and joy. Have them work individually, in a duo, or group and translate those thoughts and emotions into either an improvisation score or a short choreographed work which depicts the artwork and their feelings through movement. Try to incorporate a variety of music styles which also lend itself to the spirit of the work and the holiday and watch how inspired you will be by your students when they communicate what dance brings to their life. For an additional element, invite parents into the studio for a mini-showing before the holiday to include them in the spirit of the season.
We are all so lucky to be dancers, let's celebrate and be always be thankful it is in our lives!
Here 's to a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone! Happy Dancing!