This piece is one of the hardest things I did this year. At the beginning of the year I was asked if I wanted to teach dance to the grade 6/7 kids in exchange for teaching my Visual Arts. Given the amount of new subjects I was already responsible for teaching, I jumped at the chance to get rid of another subject I did not know how to teach and agreed. Little did I know the trade was not even and the amount of work required to put a dance into the dance festival was not at all even to the amount of work required to teach the visual arts blocks. Lesson learned.
Not only this but the class was INCREDIBLY challenging.
I only saw them about once a week for an hour and tried my best to give them as a collaborative experience as possible. Given the limited time with them though it had to be more artist/teacher directed than my classes "Technologic" dance so I found out what music they liked and their ideas for the dance, decided on some, gained their consent to move forward and we worked together to create a piece that we could all feel proud of.
The subject matter of the piece was heavy and there was politics going on behind the scenes that made the creative process even more difficult. Some students stepped up to help while others resisted and pushed back even more. We eventually finished the piece and the kids pulled it together last minute with enough capacity to perform it well onstage. The feedback from audience members and the adjudicator was that it was very moving and they really enjoyed it.
Due to the politics and sheer exhaustion from the work, as well as needing to catch up on other work in my own class that had been missed getting ready for the dance festival, I did not debrief well with the group after the performance. We ended up hanging out again at the end of the year and having a great facilitated conflict resolution between two parties who had been fighting all year, but we did not ever really debrief their experience of the piece which I regret.
Next year I will not be switching dance for anyone else as I want to focus on learning to teach new things.
I am grateful for this experience of pushing through adversity and helping these kids and myself have this experience even though it was SO.. INCREDIBLY... HARD! ha ha