I returned to a K/1st school in North Brunswick, NJ in the center of the state. What should have been a 1.5 hour trip turned into a 2 hour trek, but I got to the school in time. I was scheduled for one assembly for about 300 kids. Though its October, it was humid and warm in the gym so I got soaked in sweat, but it was honest sweat.
It’s interesting that, in this part of NJ, near Princeton, that the school population is primarily Indian and Pakistani, with few blacks and whites in the crowd: the second generation of South Asian immigrants.
It was a good audience with kids taking chances, singing and moving their bodies. It’s not a given that this age can accept the challenges that I lay down, especially the K kids.
I did all the good stuff for this age: Tutti Tah, Cat Came Back, PB&J, Giants, Bear Hunt, etc. The big gamble was doing All Around the Kitchen for this age as a finisher. It turned out well with some interesting moments.
I have really recently concentrated on connecting singing and dancing, especially at the same time, and in a larger social context. Folk moments in action. (This is really basic research….)
I called on several kids to come up and ‘model’ their dance moves. Some simply couldn’t handle being in front of 300 of their classmates and couldn’t come up with a personal movement on the spot. But, it was interesting to see kids who raised their hands and volunteered to come up, try to handle these new situations on stage – in public….
These situations are ones that really call on my intuition, perhaps the core of my craft. Which kid seems in tune, involved and willing to join in? These are all decisions I have to do on the fly, or ‘Fry’ as they say in the biz. Most of the time, I bring up interesting and motivated kids that I recognize and acknowledge by having them join me on stage. This ‘technique’ adds a whole ‘nother layer to the ‘theater’ part of the show.
This K and 1st grade split is evident with this song. I insist on singing the chorus (simple and fun – Cockadoodly do) while dancing. It’s no easy thing for these kids (and, I think, with ‘new’ American kids). There’s cultural, biological and developmental things going on. The K’s aren’t sure and the 1st’s jump in. I feed of of the older kids in a lot of these gigs.
I really try to hammer this ‘singing and dancing’ moment home, and it’s a new process I’m working through. I’m playing this consistently as a ‘piece’ so it’s still in the works. This is a focus on my academic interest in ‘rich brain moments’ that I’m working on, especially with this age group.
When you can actively get kids to use many of the cognitive skills they are more than equipped to use, this (as in any) artist experience will actually shape their minds – for the rest of their lives. Scientific fact.
Again, I invited three teachers to come up and show me their moves. As I surveyed the faculty, several women actually volunteered. (Again, this is an interesting time to gauge the teachers/audience that I’ve been working on, too.) They got up and volunteered: Disco, Stir The Pot and The Blunk. It was great to have them up with me. They modeled taking a chance, using their bodies, on the fly decisions, leadership, ownership and on and on…. They stepped up to make this, our time together, a special community event.
Let’s remember our times together.
Anyway, this ‘Work in Progress’, All Around the Kitchen is wonderful device to let me experiment, let me play, with a live, creative and responsive audience. That’s about as good a situation to be in, don’t you think?
I could use the work, though.