Thursday, June 23, 2011

We Love to Dance

I had the best dance class ever today with my son. I'm a dancer/choreographer and very happy that he's diggin' the beats from a very young age.

My son participates in a twice weekly social art program that I run from our home, so he gets a lot of dance from that, but we also do a private session once a week - just the two of us, and sometimes one other little friend who is also homeschooled. She didn't make it to class today, so I decided to skip the ballet and try something a little different.

We started out by putting together a very simple routine to some African music. Eight steps side-to-side, eight steps coming together from opposite sides of the room and then around in a circle with a turning step-step-step-clap.

After that, I put a blindfold on him and just walked him around the room in spirals, zig-zags and circles, with some deep ambient music. This is an exercise I used to do a lot with my dancers (when I lived in the city). It's an exercise in trust and spacial awareness, and can be pretty intense. Many people experience a feeling of walking through walls as the space seems much bigger with your eyes closed. If the blindfolded person manages to fully trust and relax, their imagination can take them to all kinds of crazy places. In the darkness, colors might fly out at you from the music and dance all around you. Tension or worries might appear in the form of imaginary walls that you're afraid to bump into.

My son is eight years old and I'd never tried this with him before. I was always so set on getting his toes to point and his posture perfect, that I hadn't been doing the things I really love about dance with him. It was a good moment to stop and reflect on how I'm making that same mistake in our other homeschool activities.

I don't know if my son will be a dancer, or a scientist, or a chef, or a stay-at-home dad, or a painter, or a mathematician, or a plumber, or a historian ... I don't know if he'll choose one thing (like I did with dance) or if he'll be more of a generalist and be able to do lots of things. I do know that I want him to be a happy and free adult, which means I need to make sure that he is a happy and free child. So, as much as I would like to see him perform a perfect arabesque or be able to effortlessly locate Djibouti on a map, it is way more important that we have a good time and use our -life-time to do the things we enjoy. Not to say that we'll completely skip the pliés, but I will make sure to give more emphasis to the fun stuff.

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