Updated: Dec 6, 2017
Teaching my dance workshop, Raise The Barre, at St. John's Lutheran Church, where I taught Sunday school for six years, to students of all ages.
Growing up dancing, I never thought I would one day be a professional dancer, but here I am! I founded Raise The Barre to give back to the community by spreading the positive influence of dance to as many students as I can.
“My mission is to enable equal access to professional dance education, so all students will have an equal opportunity to raise their own bar and meet their fullest potential through the art of dance.”
What better place to start my Raise The Barre dance workshops than the church I grew up in and taught Sunday school at? Every Wednesday, I teach a ballet and improvisation based workshop at their Oasis After-school Program.
Bringing Kids Together Through Dance
One of the student's favorite dance activities was "Mirroring." I first introduced the concept of body shapes to the students, explaining that dancers can create shapes that are curved, straight, twisted, narrow, wide, bent, high, medium, or low. I told all of the students to find a partner, face each other. and decide who will be A and who will be B. I partnered with one of the youngest boys and showed the class how dancer A will pick a body shape. The young boy picked such a creative pose, and I, as dancer B, copied the shape as best I could.
“Dancer B 'listens' to what dancer A is 'saying' by observing very carefully, like a conversation through movement.”
I reminded the students to move very slow, so their dance partner can observe the specific shape. Each partner took turns being the one to make the shape. Then, I challenged the students more by showing them how dancer A can make many movements very slowly while having dancer B mirror or copy every move they make. As if dancer A is creating an entire sentence through movement, dancer B copies every noun, adjective, comma, and period. I would tell the class to "Freeze!" once in a while to see if everyone was still making the same shapes.
Reflecting on What We Learned
After we were done with the activity, I asked the class to form a big circle to discuss the shapes and movements we saw. Each student found one word that described the shape they thought was most interesting based on the words we learned at the beginning of class. We discussed what kinds of skills helped us to accurately copy the movements like focus, quiet observation, listening, and respect.
If you would like to learn more about my Raise The Barre program, head over to www.michaelenekarlen.com/raise-the-barre or contact me to learn more about hosting a Raise The Barre workshop in your community!
Follow my journey to Miss Minnesota on Facebook @RaiseTheBarreMN