We had an interesting gig at an urban ES in central NJ, with a majority of black and Hispanic kids. The energy was wonderful, and though there was lots of chatter in between songs, it was quite manageable. It’s hard to balance exciting the kids with the live music and bringing them back for the education stuff.
It’s remarkable the spectrum of the ‘dancing’ involved with our show, especially in urban schools. (Schools with a majority of Hispanic kids are up dancing right away… even for the Irish jigs.)
Three types (and of course, it varies with grade level, etc.)
Extroverts: They catch on with the clapping, snapping, hand movements, etc. early in the show, and are ready to get up. It’s not til after I get the teachers up during the Elvis portion, that the kids are invited to get up, too. It’s the spark that loosens the kids up, and a ‘community’ okay to get up and dance. Some kids are really good and expressive dancers, again, especially in urban areas. Motown, Beatles, Disco all have definable moves that the kids pick up on.
The Herd: these kids eventually get up, and reluctantly, (if at all) start to move around. Still a new experience to move your body in public, but its a pretty safe arena to experiment. Again, even the the course of the last 15 minutes of the show, they start to communicate with their classmates, and take chances.
The Bump: these kids refuse to dance or even get off the floor. Lots of reasons, and they are my biggest challenge. It’s more than shyness, social and physical insecurities and I wonder about the familial and cultural effects on dancing. Sometimes being a kid isn’t easy.
I’m really proud of the work that RR does, and the effort I’ve put in, into integrating movement into the show. There’s something interactive in every song we do, and combining the intellectual with the physical makes for some powerful education.