Goals and Expectations for Expressive Movement Classes

Dear Parents (and Parents of Potential Students),

First of all, thank you for bringing your children into my space – it is a sincere joy to meet and experience them.  I wanted to extend some formal communication to you about your children and the expectations I have for them in their work with me, in order to help you form your own expectations and see how my class is different than other “dance” classes.  Please note that the first few classes are them getting to know me and me getting to know them and their strengths to encourage and areas that need more nurturance.

In the Monday night aged 5-9 class, the following are my goals and expectations:

  • Remind their bodies how they are designed in order to protect their body from current and future injuries or issues, and to make movement easier: through routine exposure to alignment, breath, tension release and developmental movement stages in warm-up activities.
  • Strengthen their core to support the body in this and to protect their bodies from the new movements they encounter during class – particularly during improvisational moments where they may be engrossed in their expression and less aware of how their body is doing what it is doing.
  • Exposure to a variety of motor skills, to expand their movement vocabulary and to encourage natural development.  These are skills such as: run, skip, gallop, leap, bend, balance, twist, slide, sway, kick etc.  If I see that a certain skill needs some attention I will find ways to bring that particular skill into class more often.  There is no penalty for struggling with a skill and there are no required ways of doing movements.
  • Encourage their natural ways of expressing themselves – nurturing them to be who they are and let that shine MORE.  This is embedded in the activities: asking them to come up with the “answers”, letting their imagination take them to a more comfortable place to express, and verbal encouragement.  I do this because:
    1) there is no wrong way to dance.  There may be ways that are physically healthier in that they prevent injury and future issues, but under the age of 12 these concepts are difficult for them to grasp and not important to their development at this stage (which is why the warm-ups are designed as they are)
    2) strengthen their budding self-confidence
    3) fun over rules – gives them a chance to let their stresses go and not worry about what they are “supposed” to be doing.  I want them to dance more like them, their own way of interpreting what they see around them, and less like me.
  • Exposure to new ways of moving – through sharing with each other and learning mini-dances that I create.  Through this they will build a broader vocabulary for their own expression, as they incorporate what inspires them into their own physical memory.  I try to use multiple styles, so that when they are ready to choose a movement style, they will have a greater understanding of what is available, but it is a lesser goal (as it is an immense one!).  This listening, witnessing and being open to other’s movements also helps teach respect for others and an open mind.  And the sharing presents them with the challenging skill of performance, in ways they are ready for it.  We will occasionally “perform” for adults and there may be other public performance opportunities.
  • Free time!  Dancing itself does not need to be taught – it is a natural expression of our body, as we jump for joy and babies bounce to rhythms that catch their attention.  I like to allow in each class a little time to just get lost in some inspiring music, again exposing to various styles and cultures.  This is the most stress relieving part of the class.  It allows them to integrate not only what we’ve done in class but their past day/week.
  • Self-care and physical wellness through Yoga and meditation.  I will end class with some yoga poses in order to:
    1) give them something tangible to say they learned
    2) self-discipline as we work on difficult poses
    3) healthy stretching after all the movement
    4) some muscle building for overall health of the muscles.
    We also do mediation to help quiet the mind and bring the nervous system to a balanced state after all the activity.  My favorite habit to instill in children is the comfort found in relaxing – that you can find that familiar feeling in any situation.  And it works!  They will take this tool with them for the rest of their lives (I hope!).
  • Balance is an important tool in class also.  Balancing, as a coordination skill, is an amazing tool for the brain and naturally relaxes the nervous system.  I also work to bring physical balance to both sides of the body to connect the brain hemispheres and keep the physical muscles able to best support the body.

In the Saturday morning parent-toddler class, the following are my goals and expectations:

  • FUN!  Parents of toddlers are often tired, stressed with the constant wrangling that seems to come with toddler-hood.  My largest goal is to simply invite a time for parents to have fun with their toddler unconcerned with outcome or rules or perfect behavior.  The environment fosters freedom in a safe manner – something toddlers demand.  I especially am happiest to see parents engaging in play and healthy movement and connecting with their child – perhaps seeing their child in a new light.  I DO NOT expect the children to participate fully in every activity and listen attentively – they are allowed to take in the class as they need to, or express something different, so long as it doesn’t prevent the other attendees from experiencing class.
  • Social engagement.  A chance for tots to play with other tots, perhaps absorb kid-ness from older children, and for adults to connect with other parents.  An introduction to classroom setting.
  • Remind their bodies how they are designed in order to facilitate optimal developmental movement patterns, protect their body from injury and encourage easier movement.  We do this by physically going through each stage of developmental movement in the warm-ups.  Movement development is how the nervous system and brain develop as well as how infants and toddlers integrate their daily experiences.
  • Exposure to a variety of motor skills, to expand their movement vocabulary and to encourage natural development.  These are basic skills such as: crawl, walk, run, hop, balance, gallop, swing, bounce, point, wiggle, directions etc.  If I see that a certain skill needs some attention I will find ways to bring that particular skill into class more often.
  • Rhythm and Multi-Function through the incorporation of instruments, games that incorporate speed, and a variety of music with clear beats.
  • Exposure to new ways of moving through group movements: either folk dance, action-rhymes, or learned movements choreographed by me.
  • Free time!  Dancing itself does not need to be taught – it is a natural expression of our body, as we jump for joy and babies bounce to rhythms that catch their attention.  I like to allow in each class a little time to just get lost in some inspiring music, again exposing to various styles and cultures.  This is the most stress relieving part of the class.  It allows them to integrate not only what we’ve done in class but their past day/week.
  • Simple Self-care and physical wellness through Yoga and meditation.  I will end class with some yoga poses in order to:
    1) give adults an opportunity to take care of themselves and learn some useful yoga poses
    2) creative challenge for tots as they work on poses difficult for them
    3) healthy stretching after all the movement
    We end with cuddle time, often using imagery, to help quiet or focus the mind and bring the nervous system to a balanced state after all the activity.  My favorite habit to instill in children is the comfort found in relaxing – that you can find that familiar feeling in any situation.  And it works!  They will take this tool with them for the rest of their lives (I hope!).
  • Balance is an important tool in class also.  Balancing, as a coordination skill, is an amazing tool for the brain and naturally relaxes the nervous system.  I also work to bring physical balance to both sides of the body to connect the brain hemispheres and keep the physical muscles able to best support the body.

I welcome all questions or feedback, and again, am so happy to be getting to know your family!

In Peace,
Lynn Buske

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