A Unique Experience
This week, Guelph Dance’s Co-Artistic Director Janet Johnson held 2 full-day workshops at Westwood Public School and Willow Road Public School. The students attended the workshops with smiles and laughter. For most, this was a once in a lifetime experience. All eyes were on Janet and all ears were tuned into Sam Cino’s incredible drumbeats.
Children arrived curious and wide-eyed. Clear that Janet had many years experience with children and dance, she had their attention immediately. Janet began by introducing herself to the students and telling them her favourite animal … an elephant? Or was it a loon? The children replied with their favourites. Within minutes the drums were thumping and Janet had the children moving. She had the group running to warm up, dancing as a group, playing games and allowing them to use their creative minds through dance. I sat quietly in the background with my camera, hoping the children wouldn’t be distracted by me or my flash. Fortunately, I went unnoticed, other than the odd child smiling at me at the beginning or end of the class. For example:
In today’s workshops we handed out feedback forms to all the children who attended Janet’s classes. Every child wrote about how much fun they had!
The following are some of our favourite feedback form quotes:
Do you like dance and why?
“Yes, because it inspires me!” – Nicole, age 11.
Did you experience something new about yourself today?
“Yes, that you can be very creative and don’t worry about what others say!” – Nicole, age 11.
“Yes. I felt free.” – Mikayla, age 11.
“I was more energetic today” – Jay, age 10.
“I didn’t really like dance until today!” – Jordan, age 11.
“I experienced to not give up when it’s hard.” – Fiza, age 10.
“Yes, that you can express yourself in more ways.” – Lily, age 10.
“Yes, that I have a passion to dance.” Niramay, age 9.
What did you learn today?
“I learned a lot of dance moves and I can’t wait to show my mom and dad and my brothers and sisters.” – Fiza, age 10.
“I learned today that you’re not wrong or right, just be yourself and be normal!” – Mariam, age 10.
“I can express myself by dancing.” Rachel, age 9.
“It was AWESOME! I loved it so much, it was the first time I had that much fun in a long time.” – Jovianne, age 10.
“The teacher and drummer were awesome!” – Milkah, age 10.
We cannot stress the importance of exercise and the arts enough in children’s lives. These workshops are an incredible way for children to try something new and to truly allow their creative side to blossom. In many feedback forms children wrote of their surprise regarding how much better they were at dance than they expected. Others who believed they didn’t like dance now had a new love for it.
Please enjoy a short video of one of the exercises enjoyed by a Grade 4 class at Willow Road Public School:
The following are a few photos taken throughout the classes. I hope they capture a glimpse of the happiness these children were omitting in these classes.
Thank you to Janet and Sam for all their hard work and dedication!