6 very different CPS grade schools, 12 classes filled with a wide range of abilities, 3 different dance - all to honor the genre of JAZZ!
With Duke Ellington in our COT season, it was really exciting to offer the opportunity to teach jazz in the classroom! What a “cool” way to grab their ears but with the blaring brass of Goodman’s SING SING SING, the off beats of Gershwin’s FASCINATING RHYTHM or Tito Puente’s Latin soul in OYE COMO VA. (And I gotta say – choreographing all three was a BLAST…A dancer’s dream!) I had the chance to introduce Tap Dance into the curriculum with the first two because jazz invites you to move your feet to same rhythm as the song’s. Then, the Latin beat easily translated into moving your hips and cha-cha-ing to the phrases.
A lot of the kids totally embodied the COOLNESS of their jazz by adding their own onomatopoeia sound effects to the crash of the cymbal drum, vocal grunts to their more aggressive poses or their drastic volume contrasts between their foot stumps and their toe hops. Truly, the proof of them subliminally sensing the complexity of jazz comes alive when they have the opportunity to use their bodies and voices to imitate what they hear! This is solely why we are here. To enrich their minds with the creativity that music has to offer.
Sadly, as the Guest Artist Choreographer, I only had 2 hours with each class. It was a quick introduction, throw a whole lot of physical exercise through dance at them, make them do it over and over (they hated me for that part!) and then I had to say good bye. However, I did experience the characteristics of each classroom, all with very different dynamics. Believe it or not, some of the children that stood out as the most misbehaved became my Dance Captains because of their stellar “dance off” auditions to see who knew the combinations the best. It’s truly mind blowing how the physicality of movement-to-music can ignite the brains to those that appear to be unattached. Having a daughter that has been diagnosed as ADHD, I know this first hand. The language I speak best with my own daughter is MOVEMENT.
I would have loved to have gotten to know each child more intimately, but my job does not allow for as much. Alas, I received many hugs to know that I gave a gift – the love of dance through the awesomeness of JAZZ!
|Students follow Ms. Ott's lead while learning the choreography|