I was off to another local high school this morning, this time to see a dance extravaganza with the Grade 6 kids. I like the teens but my heart beats most deeply with the 11-year-olds. There’s an enthusiasm, spontaneity and innocence that captures me.
There must have been fifty dancers onstage at various times. I loved to see that their heads were up, in contact with life. I couldn’t tell if they were truly making eye contact with us or if they were focused on the back wall. No matter … they were engaged.
The auditorium was pretty full when we arrived but there were seats off to the side. Soon after we sat down, I realized that there were lots of developmentally delayed kids near us. Excellent. And they enjoyed the whole show, which had to be at least two hours. What a great demonstration to our students that everyone needs to be included.
One young lady in the front row often stood up and did her own twirls in response to the performers. Good for her. And good for the staff member sitting beside who let her express. Some teens made occasional spontaneous noises as the dancers danced, and one student seemed to be having breathing problems. It was all a welcome part of our gathering.
Almost all of the dancers were girls. There were maybe five boys. That made me sad. It was such a great performance that I’m hoping some male elementary students were inspired to join the fun once they show up at high school. The boys who danced were very expressive. I imagine it took some courage for them to be up there, given the possibility of razzing from some friends. Congratulations, guys, for being willing to do what you want to do.
The dance troupe was a celebration of difference – racially, culturally, age, body type and cognitive ability. None of those distinctions mattered. I saw a heavier girl take centre stage and do various flips and swirls with grace and strength. She was a star.
There were so many different costumes … even top hats were on proud display. The music was all over the map, including Queen’s We Are The Champions. Many of us in the audience sang along with that one.
What a mass of work it must have been to pull this performance off – the dancers, the stage crew, the lighting crew, the teachers. I hope each participant left the stage knowing that they had contributed to something big, that they had enthralled many of the elementary kids, and that possibly they had recruited some future Grade 9 students. They also touched this volunteer who still loves to dance. Thank you.