Teaching Dancing for the Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) Program

Teaching Dancing for the Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) Program

This semester I have been involved in one main CAS project which my friend and I have initiated, planned and organized. The project took part in the primary after-school activities and was simply a mixed dance class for the younger kids.

Through this activity my aim was to teach an easy dance routine while showing the kids some simple dance moves and warm-up exercises they could practice at home as well. In my opinion, it is important at the age of these kids (around 8 years old) that they exercise a lot and spend time using all their energy in sports activities or dance classes. Additionally, I believe that not enough time is spent during school time for P.E lessons, and running around during break is not always enough for the kids; therefore, it seemed a good idea to open a class that offers the kids more time to run around and exercise. Ever since we began teaching the kids we had in mind that we want the kids to perform the simple dance routine that we are teaching them during the classes. A cycle of the after-school activities for the primary lasts for 6 weeks; thus we only had 6 classes with the kids that spread over a couple of months. Eventually, we achieved our goal and the kids ended up performing in an assembly the dance routine that my friend and I came up with.

As any project, my CAS activity had its weaknesses, problems and strengths. Initially, the first problem I encountered was the fact that I am used to create dances for older kids with routines and movements that are quicker and much more complex. Thus, it took me time to come up with moves that the kids would be able to follow and actually perform even with a song that has a quick pace. Even throughout the activity we were forced to change and simplify a couple of things as the kids found it difficult to move at the same time and as a group. In the first class, only 6 2nd graders turned up. At first I considered this as a disadvantage since a performance of only 6 kids is rather small while appearing less attractive on a stage. Yet later this appeared an advantage as it is very hard to control six 2nd graders that only want to run around freely. This was one of our main problems, as they at times did not pay attention or listened to us. As much as we hated it, we solved this problem by talking to the kids, telling them that if they wish to perform they should take the class a little more seriously. We also found a strategy to make them more concentrated; letting them have a break for 5 minutes to simply run around or dance for themselves with music in the background. Another problem we faced is the limited time we had in order to fully teach the kids the routine and assure that we have enough time of rehearsal with the kids before the performance. Even though we planned our time carefully, exactly which movements we will teach each class, it was hard to follow our initial timeline, especially since it all depended on the kids' ability to understand the moves quickly. Eventually we managed to teach the whole routine even earlier than we expected. The performance's date turned out to be a week before we expected as well, and we were told about it only two days before. Yet without a problem we were able to prepare everything, including planning costumes for the kids and asking them to bring things from home. Another aspect that was a slight problem is the fact that the classes took place only once a week, meaning that we had to review the dance all over again at the beginning of every class as it appeared that they forgot what we taught them a week before.

Some strengths that I felt this activity addressed deal with the success of the final performance, the kids enjoying coming to class every week and the ability to organize everything on time despite flaws in our timeline. The main advantage about our project as an after-school activity is the fact that it was basically a class that taught many types of dancing- even those that boys may enjoy dancing. The dance routine was specifically designed including ballet dancing, hip-hop, and Latin type of moves in order to show a mix of different styles of dances. In order assure a clear separation between the different styles we made a special music remix with a specific song for each type and smooth transformations between the songs. All this allowed boys to feel comfortable performing and participating in class with confidence. An evidence for the fact that the classes were successful over all is the enthusiasm of the kids when arriving to class and their desire to keep learning more parts of the routine as quick as possible. Moreover, they told us that they practiced the routine every day at home, which gave a feeling of success for the routine and showed that we managed to excite them about the performance and of the routine they managed to dance.

I felt as if this project allowed me to help other people in my community and create something enjoyable for the younger kids while benefiting from this experience myself. This CAS activity involved a couple of things which I enjoy doing; working with younger kids, creating dance routines and teaching them, and eventually organizing a performance. An issue I personally faced was the fact that I came very tired to every class after a whole day of studying, and I needed to focus on teaching the dance as well as making sure the kids are having fun. At times I found this very hard to do, yet even if I was tired I remained very cheerful and full of energy as I knew it was important to keep up my own spirit if I wanted the kids to enjoy the class. Eventually this seemed to work every time as the kids even weeks after the performance keep coming to say hello, telling me that they want to have more classes as we did before. I have always enjoyed working with younger kids; yet I never taught dancing to such an age. At first I personally found it difficult to find ways to explain them movements and anything they did seemed wrong, which made me feel I was doing something wrong. The fact that I had a partner the whole time helped me a lot since in places where I couldn’t explain things properly she tried and the kids understood better. The success of the overall performance also made me feel that I managed to achieve my goal while benefiting others, as the kids, the P.E teacher, Ms. Stevenson and everybody else who watched the performance were very happy with the final result of the activity. Finally, I believe that I did my best throughout the whole process assure an overall great accomplishment.

Along with this reflection there are attached photos from the performance of the kids in an assembly as well as a 'Thank- you' letter from the primary P.E Teacher, thanking all my effort and commenting on the success of the whole activity.