Looking Back as I Look Ahead

It’s the start of a school year, and I can’t help but compare where I’ve come from with where I am and where I’m going. Where I’ve been for 15 years is teaching dance full-time in a public school, with low-income students from all over the world.  Where I am is still trying, as usual in the fall, to catch the rhythm of this year’s new schedule, students, paperwork, projects…  Where I’m headed is always the same: working non-stop to make Dance a full partner in raising achievement scores, without squashing its most valuable contribution as a fine art.

As another year starts, I greet the same children I had last year, intending to further nurture their vision of themselves as artists. The biggest challenges loom for my 5th graders, because by March they’ll each choreograph and perform a solo, and by June they’ll collaborate to create their own dance.

At this point in the school year, it feels like a long road ahead, but I’m buoyed by successes from past years.  Looking back just a few months ago to June, it’s helpful to recall the ownership last year’s 5th graders had for the dance they created (video above), to realize that a year ago I couldn’t have predicted which of them would be the leaders, and to remember that they start every year with a lot to learn!

Find the Backstage Story on this video in my August post. [Editor’s Note: If you haven’t yet watched the video, I recommend reading the August post first so you can fully appreciate the challenges that were overcome in the creation of this performance.]

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