PYP1: Let’s Dance

In the past few weeks, our new unit “How we express ourselves”, has had the children of PYP1 swirling and twirling and actually dancing to a myriad of different tunes. It has also upheld our belief that engaging with our community allows us to celebrate our cultural diversity and it affords our students an opportunity to connect their learning to their everyday life experiences. Read on to find out how our amazing school community, from teachers to parents to students, all “pitched” in to bring into our class the beauty and grace of dances spread across cultures, time and space.

 Terrific Tap Dancing – The children listened to the story of the groundbreaking African-American tap dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson as conveyed through the endearing book – ‘Rap A Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles-Think of That!’ They excitedly joined in the refrains from the book and watched Mr. Robinson at his best in a 1930’s video clipping. Fast-forward to the twenty-first century and we realized that while we may not have Mr. Robinson amongst us, we have Mr. Victor Wong and he sure can tap dance! He captivated the children’s attention with his agility and nimbleness and patiently answered their many queries, before having the children literally following his footsteps, trying out the brush step and the double pick-up spring step.

7 Beautiful Ballerinas – In a classic example of peer learning, the students of PYP1 explored another dance form when seven of their classmates took it upon themselves to show them what it was all about. After a few determined home-based practice sessions, our stars were ready to shine. With the students of PYP1 and PYP2 as their encouraging audience, Jihyo, Anaya, Annah, Maya, Yueqian, Stella and Miraya, proudly presented the ballet. Some performed in pairs and some went solo but all were outstanding in their own way and very much deserving of the tremendous applause that they were awarded by their peers. We are proud to see ACTION early in the unit from our motivated and engaged learners.

Hip Hop Hysteria – We were told that if we wanted the hippest hip hop dancer in school, we would have to call on Meghan Kalvey, a DP1 student, who also happens to run the hip hop dance club. In just a few magical moments, Meghan had the children riveted to her every word and every action, as she went about unraveling this spirited form of modern dance. The children had the opportunity to view the evolution of the dance right from the 1970s to modern day. They were all suitably impressed watching Meghan take the floor and were thrilled when she invited them to perform with her. Meghan showed us some really cool moves before she ended her session, leaving behind a bunch of revved-up, happy hip-hopping first graders.

Sogo, So Good! – In the PYP, collaboration is a skill and an attitude not only practiced by students and teachers but also employed by their parents. Proving this fact in PYP1, were the mothers of Jihyo and Youngseo, Ms. Yumi and Ms. Jinhwa who spent a considerable amount of time and effort during the Easter break, preparing hard to bring the fascinating Korean dance, The Sogo Dance, to our classroom. In what was unanimously considered by all the children as one of the most fun dance sessions, the two parents wasted no time in getting the children geared up for this traditional dance. They helped the children put on netted cloth pieces in three of the five traditional colours, equipping each child also with a ‘sogo’ or a small drum. Then on came the video with children demonstrating the dance and in no time our first graders were beating on their sogo’s and dancing with such skill and flair that their performance significantly belied the fact that they had only just been introduced to the dance.

Fit for Kings: Kathak – What do you get when you have been practicing a dance for the past ten years, with passion, with devotion and with the greatest joy your heart can barely hold? You get mastery, you get perfection and bringing this perfection to our class was yet another DP1 student, Tanya Chheda. Tanya is no stranger to our PYP1 classroom and has been coming in every year for the past three years to educate our children about the very expressive Indian dance – kathak. Born in the eighteenth century, in the courts and royal palaces of India, this dance brings alive stories through the compelling combination of footwork, hand gestures and expression. With Tanya, the children explored the meaning of different expressions, saw how a range of feelings can be expressed through gestures and facial expressions and tried out some simple footwork. Awestruck by the hundred bells of ‘ghungroos’ she tied to her ankles, the children watched Tanya usher into our classroom, the graces and the splendour fit for a king’s court.

The Fabulous Flamenco, Family Style – It was a first for our firsties (and their teachers) as they were treated to a gorgeous, vibrant performance of the Spanish Flamenco by the charming mother-daughter duo comprising of our very own Maya and her mother (also MBIS teacher) Ms. Isabel. Resplendent in traditional Flamenco dresses, complete with hair, makeup and accessories fixed into place, the two ladies introduced us to every aspect of this dance, from its origins in Andalusia in the South of Spain, to details about the features of the costumes and finally nuances of the dance itself. Maya was especially excited to share her knowledge with her classmates and frequently contributed explanations and important insights supporting her mother as she systematically delivered a very interesting and an enlightening presentation. At the end of a very enriching lesson, Ms. Isabel, much to the amusement of the children, shared the tricks that she had learned as a child during her very first Flamenco lesson, to help our budding performers master some basic but authentic Flamenco steps.

Student Reflections:

 Anaya – “When Tanya showed us the kathak moves, I was really interested. I also knew a few of them.”

 Mohamed Yasin e- “Meghan’s hip hop dance inspired me to buy the game ‘Just Dance’ because you can choose different styles of dance, different songs and it helps improve your dancing.”

Ajay- “Mr. Victor did the tap dance. He had metal on his shoes. I really didn’t know that there are special shoes for tap dance.”

Yueqian – “We watched the Sogo Dance and then we wore the three main colours and did the dance ourselves. It made me feel happy because we got to try out a new dance.”

 Jihyo – “Anaya and I practiced our ballet really hard. We even practiced at our play date! We danced in front of everyone – it made me feel proud because everybody liked our dance and they clapped a lot.”

 Miraya – “I learned that the Flamenco is a dance from Spain. Maya and Maya’s mom wore beautiful polka-dotted dresses and danced the Flamenco for us. It was lovely!”