At the beginning of every year I volunteer to teach drama at my kids’ primary school. The kids love it (half an hour a week where you’re instructed to play, how cool is that?), the teachers love it (someone else to do the drama component of the curriculum when you don’t have the skills, awesome) and I love it.
I love that drama is for everyone. Each child can be involved as much or as little as they like. The look-at-me types get what they have been craving all day, the don’t-look-at-me types feel safe in the crowd of group work or can crawl out of their shell when everyone is working individually (busy and focused, so no one is looking at anyone else). The biggest smile in the room is on the face of the boy with mobility issues who, though in a wheelchair, is as involved as everyone else.
So after working with Goldilocks’ year 3 class for six months I leapt at the opportunity to assist in the preparation for the end of year concert.
“That’s great! Thanks so much!” gushed Goldilocks’ teacher. “You can take these four girls. They’ll be pretending to be the singers – miming the words while everyone else dances around them. We want them to be really big – exaggerated. Do whatever you like.”
Excellent, I thought. I had it all worked out. Those evenings spent watching The X Factor while on holidays with my sister-in-law’s family hadn’t been wasted after all. Overacting popstars? No worries.
“Let’s just listen to the music first.” I said and we sat around the CD player. All except Goldilocks’ best friend Millie who stood in the middle of the room, feet firmly planted, eyes cast to the floor, clearly in performance-preparation-position. It’s kind of like 3rd position in ballet but without the ballet-ness.
I pressed play. She began. She had an entire dance routine already worked out. I knew she wasn’t improvising because every time it came back to the chorus she pulled out the same moves.
I started fidgeting. This wasn’t in the script. This was dancing. I don’t do dancing. Well I dance, badly, with lubrication or silly friends or pre-teen daughters, but I don’t teach dance.
Tori was watching Millie carefully. “I really like those moves Millie, and in this bit we could do this.” She bopped about, expertly executing tight dance moves in perfect time to the music.
My shoulders relaxed and I stopped clenching my fingers as I realised I wasn’t required to do anything. With Millie’s passion and Tori’s skill this gig was sorted.
Jazzy noticed what was happening and jumped up. “What about this?” she said punching the sky randomly with her right arm. “And then here we can do this.” She cartwheeled across the room, narrowly missing Millie’s head and the CD player. OK, so maybe I was needed after all, in order to channel Jazzy’s enthusiasm and to encourage quiet Caroline who hadn’t said one word or moved more than 10cm during the whole song.
After 40 minutes they had choreographed the whole dance. I tried hard to look like I was keeping up, but after hearing “No Heidi, it goes like this.” from Tori for the sixth time I gave up, figuring I was just slowing them down.
They showed their teacher and she loved it.
“They didn’t have to dance.” She said, obviously impressed.
“Actually they did. I couldn’t stop them.”
And just as well. They were inspired. I’m pretty sure that was the best part of the day for those four girls. They were passionate about putting actions to the music, bringing life to the song, and (especially Millie) dreaming of performing in front of the whole school community in six weeks’ time.
So they have inspired me. I love to write. I’m passionate about it and I’m better at it than I am at dancing. It’s November and there’s no way I can commit to NaNoWriMo – 50 000 words is way too much pressure for me. But I have committed to writing something every day. I’m not even specifying what something is. Yeah, call me a wimp, maybe next month I’ll be more transparent and accountable.
But here’s day 1’s effort – on day 2, I know. See, I’m already behind. At least I’m inspired. Now I’m off to write page 3 of my next ten minute play.
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