Through the wonderful program, Dance In The Schools, set during March, which is dance month, in Cambridge MA, I have the pleasure of a three day flamenco residency at Esculela Amigos School. I am working with the junior Kindergarten (JK Stars). Elika Frederikson is the teacher and she has a delightful class of avid learners.
Day One: Arrived in the classroom and changed into my dance shoes and skirt. All the children loved my shoes…I kind of felt like Mr. Rogers getting ready for the day. Read the story “Lola’s Fandango” by Anna Witte with illustrations by Mischa Archer and had the kids follow me in the counting, the clapping, the stamping, moving arms and repeating the Spanish words. After that we stood up and I played flamenco rumbas and had the children do the “follow-me” dance steps such as stamping, clapping, moving the arms, playing with fast and slow beast, shouting ¡olé!. One little boy, Sophocles (yes that is his name-awesome!) pointed out that he noticed I changed to a new step at the end of each crescendo (llamada). What a great ear! We even played the game “I Go, You Go” where I do a clapping, footwork or movement sequence and then they copy me.
Everyone was pretty tired after that, so we came back down to the floor and did some yoga poses to relax and get our breath back.
I then wrote up on a large piece of paper the poem by my friend Miguel de Victoria:
Se coje la manzana…
Pull the apple (Reach up high and twist the apple off the tree)
Se muerde la manzana…
Bite the apple (The apple passes by the mouth and we bite it)
Se tira la manzana…
Throw the apple (Throw the apple to the ground)
Se pisa la manzana….
Stamp on the apple (Stomp on the apple)
The students then created a special area for me to perform in and I encouraged them to give me palmas and shout ¡Olé! I danced all four Sevillanas with castanets and they became true aficionados!