Sunday, September 20, 2009


This year I started the year off teaching Bollywood. My students love it. I thought they might think it was corny, wack, lame, whatever the term is these days but they absolutely love it. It has gotten even the most disruptive students interested. I watched a youtube video of inmates in the Philippians doing the dance from Slumdog Millionaire. I knew my students would be able to master this dance. It has helped my shy students come out of there shell. They're not afraid of looking silly because the dance is so quirky that everyone looks a little silly at some point. The students are singing the song and putting so much energy into their movements. It has also helped me introduce cultural dance and help foster a sense of appreciation for other cultures amongst my students. I am loving the workout.

Next we're gonna try ZUMBA! Stay tuned.

Will You Be There?

As I approach the 3 month anniversary of Michael Jackson's death I am reminded of a dance I choreographed some 16 years ago. I was also reminded of this during Oprah's recent show honoring his memory. She said she wished she had been there for him. She interviewed him many years ago and after she didn't really keep up with him, reach out to him. So many of us were just not there for him.

The piece I choreographed was inspired by 8th grade students at I.S. 218 in Washington Heights. As students starting preparing for graduation one of them asked me if the teachers and staff and particularly myself, were going to be there for them when they graduated. We talked about friendship, relationships and being able to depend on one another. He asked me if I saw him years after he graduated, lying in the gutter, would I be reach my hand out to his and help him up. We started exploring movements to help answer the question and result was a beautiful piece that demonstrated our need for friendship and a sense of community.

The dancers started the piece as any member of society that they wanted to explore but they didn't acknowledge each other. As the music changed, the dancers all changed into homeless people, finally acknowledging that they were all the class and social status. We realized we are all only a short step away from being homeless or just alone without anyone to care for us.

3 months after Michael Jackson's death I hope we all will take our relationships with each other more seriously. We are not that different when you take off the titles. The next time you walk or drive down the street and you see that homeless person, remember they are somebody. Acknowledge them by at least looking at them and not through them. Acknowledge that you see them even if you don't have anything to give. Then work on the relationships you have now. Don't take them for granted. Live a life that allows you to be there for those you love now and in the past.