Not your typical dance - Erin McCormick on teaching dance to the kids of DeMarillac Academy

Posted on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 3:03PM

Stir it! Umpire! Wash the windows! Chicken! Not typical dance terminology unless you are a 4th or 5th grader at DeMarillac Academy. This past Fall Alonzo King LINES Ballet partnered with our Mid-Market community to bring dance to our youth. One of these special relationships includes DeMarillac Academy located in the Tenderloin neighborhood just a few blocks away from our studio. Robin Anderson, Co-Director of the Dance Center and I have been going to the school once a week each to teach dance as a part of the school’s enrichment program.

I have been privileged to take on the 4th and 5th graders. Teaching a new group of kids is always exciting and a bit nerve-racking especially when most have never experienced a formal dance class. We start with a warm-up to Mumford and Sons getting the body warm with stretching, deep breathing, jumping jacks, and the dreaded sit ups. Class was basic at first, learning how to move across the floor, stepping and clapping to the beat of the music, and learning to count in eights. Before I knew it the class would yell out 5-6-7-8 and I was amazed each week how fast they started picking up movement and retaining information. Last week the students got a chance to shine in an outdoor performance at UN Plaza with the LINES Ballet Education Programs. There was an anxious excited energy. I think I was more nervous than the students but I kept reminding them to just have fun because that is what it is all about! Watching them was a blur because I was so overwhelmed with pride as they performed with pure joy. Along with performing, the students watched our BFA and Training Program, which provided inspiring lessons. One 7th grader said, “I loved watching the girl without an arm because it shows everybody that just because you are different, you can still show yourself to the world and show everyone that you can do more than what others think you’re capable of.”

Community is vital. It allows us to share our gifts with one another and grow as a whole. Dance is a beautiful way to bring a community together. I might have been the teacher to those 13 kids but in the end they taught me. They remind me to approach life with zest and freedom and to take on new experiences with courage and a fun spirit! I look forward to Alonzo King LINES Ballet’s continued partnerships with the community, and the creation of an up and coming generation of dance enthusiasts, audiences, and performers.

The photos below show the students warming up for their performance at UN Plaza.





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