While waiting for a National Dance Association class to begin at the AAHPERD convention the other day, I asked the woman next to me if she was going to participate. "Absolutely," she said. "It's the only way to go." It was in that spirit that I got up early today for Sanja Korman's 7:30 a.m. demonstration of the use of props. Sanja not only demonstrated, but had us working hands on with jump ropes, hula hoops, balls, and ribbons--just the way she does with her high school students in Bellaire, Texas.
I was amazed at how, by concentrating on making my ribbon twirl into a spiral, I could easily and unself-consciously do an arabesque turn at the same time. Sanja pointed out that the use of props helps children learn kinesthetically how to do more than one thing at a time--and here we were discovering for ourselves exactly how that works. That's what I love about teachers--their willingness to put themselves in the shoes of their students. Even the young male P.E. teachers in the class (AAHPERD members include health, recreation, and phys ed teachers as well as dance educators) were gamely trying all the moves.
For more about Sanja who was honored with two educator awards in 2008 (both NDA and Dance Teacher), see the April issue of Dance Teacher, where on page 54, Sanja shares her favorite music for high school dance class.