We are running around the campus, frantically looking around corners at the classroom numbers listed next to the doors, trying to find Room 39. It is our first day of class, and we need to get there on time. At last, we stumble across the right door and walk into the classroom. Thirteen small faces turn towards the door. Some of the girls smile and clap their hands, rushing towards us and giving hugs. Others look nervous, shooting quiet, shy glances in our direction. This was the second time we had visited Vine Street Elementary School that year, and today was ballet class. We walked around the room, scooting desks into position and setting up our iPod speakers. Class had begun.
We run a dance class program at local elementary schools in the Hancock Park area. When the school bell rings at 2:45, we rush to the parking lot and speed towards Vine Street to spend two hours teaching basic dance movements, genres, and choreography to third and fourth grade girls.
It is so gratifying to watch a girl finally understand and execute a movement after teaching and helping her. There is a very obvious marked progress for each and every girl; after a few days we really notice their improvements and retention of corrections. The girls come up to us and chatter excitedly, telling us of how they all practiced their chenne turns on the playground or their jetes at home. That for us is the most wonderful thing to hear.
Their passion is contagious, their excitement palpable, their dedication admirable. They are role models for us with their desire to learn and understand movements. We want the class to be an open environment where there is no judgement. One girl who had always been a little removed from the rest of the class one day broke out in a flurry of back bends and jumps. Everyone laughed and cheered her on.
To practice jete leaps, we place stuffed animals on the floor and ask them to jump over the furry creatures. It never fails to bring a squeal of delight. On the last day of class, we have Chenne turn Red Light Green Light. We have played Freeze Dance and also had the girls split into groups and work on their own choreography with their own songs.
You don’t need to be on pointe to dance, and you don’t need to be taking classes every week at an outside studio. The truth is, the only thing you really need is a feeling. This emotional attachment to movement stirs up anticipation and excitement to dance and can become a passion and love for every challenge and boundary on your body.
Is it worth it? Yes. The girls we teach are the most dedicated, attentive students. At the end of one of our last classes, one little girl walked up and handed us a letter. “This is for you!” she exclaimed in a bright tone. On our way back to Marlborough, we opened it. Inside was a short thank you note, a list of names and flower decorations. It said:
Thank you very much for showing us how to dance. You are the best teachers. We will miss you.
Emma Daily and Anna Silk are sophomores at
Marlborough School in Hancock Park.
They co-wrote this piece for the Buzz.