Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Gotta Feeling

Last week, over 100 students at Dr. E. Alma Flagg School performed a choreographed dance to the Black eyed Peas "I Gotta Feeling" for our Dr. Martin Luther King birthday celebration. The choreography was similar to the flash mob dance used for The Oprah Show's 24th season kickoff party. I wanted to create an all inclusive atmosphere for the students to demonstrate the concepts and ideals Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in. The objective goals of the lesson for the choreography were for the students to be able to:

  • Demonstrate respect for themselves and others
  • Respect space
  • Dance in unison
  • Show high levels of energy
  • Follow the leader

The experience was magical for the students and the audience. I even saw a few parents and teachers join the students on certain parts of the choreography. I used one student as the leader of the group whom they all had to take their cues from. Students were picked for the choreography not just based on their memorization and performance of the choreography but on their ability to demonstrate respect for their classmates. Students, who either; teased other students, spoke negatively, demonstrated apathy or were just plain disrespectful in class were not invited to be a part of this choreography. After we learned the dance I asked the students why they thought we were doing a dance titled "I Gotta Feeling" for a MLK birthday celebration. Some of the student's responses were:

  • "I've got a feeling is another way to say I Have a Dream"
  • "I've got a feeling that things are going to be better."
  • "MLK believed in blacks and whites living together. In this dance we have to get along because it is so many of us."
  • "When we all fell to the floor and got back up it was as it were dead and then got energized again from each other."
  • "My favorite part of the dance was the wave because it felt like we were passing the energy."

I am extremely proud of all the students who performed. I feel like they all stepped up a notch and decided to not just dance but dance with a purpose. I'm especially proud of the way they complemented each other after the performance and gave each other positive constructive criticism. I believe this is an experience they will not forget – I know I won't! I dance because I'm part of something big and I choose today to dance and live more abundantly.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Remembering the Dream

January 15, 1981; I was blessed to be a part of the rally to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s birthday a holiday. It was freezing outside but I didn't care. As a student at the University of Maryland, College Park; a predominantly white campus, I felt a strong responsibility to do my part. I was so excited to be a part of something so big. At the time, I don't think any of us had any idea the impact of what we were doing that day. Of course we had no idea that 28 years later we would witness the inauguration of our first African American president.

Last week, Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery spoke at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at NJPAC. I was so honored to be in the presence of such wisdom. He charged everyone to do their part. He encouraged us all to be the best at what we do. "If you are a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be." I'm encouraged today to just be better, to follow through and not forget that cold day, January 15, 1981. I'm encouraged to keep teaching, writing and dancing, even when I don't feel like it. I'm inspired by Arthur Mitchell who after hearing of the assassination of Dr. King, decided to start the Dance Theatre of Harlem to dispel the myth that African Americans can't dance classical ballet.

Now more than ever it is time to live the dream. What has Dr. King's dream inspired you to do? What is it you are supposed to be doing with your life? Are you on the path to that dream? Each day we should be chipping away at our dream until it manifest (made a reality). Is your dream part of a bigger dream or is it a selfish dream that only you benefit from? When we marched 29 years ago, I don't think any of us were thinking about ourselves. We just knew it was something we had to do. I dance because its helps me remember the dream. I dance because…