Saturday, February 24, 2018

How Can the Ballet ARM Us? by Mrs. X, Anonymous Public School Teacher

I hope you read to the end…
Our school had a field trip today to see the the ballet perform in our city. In order to prepare my students to go to the theater to watch the performance, I pulled up a few YouTube videos to show them how an audience shows respect as well as a few clips for the ballet performances so they would be prepared for costumes and movements as well as music. The one clip I showed them a talk show host spoke of the performance we were about to see as “This is a classic tale that predicts a wicked step mother who is abusive to her husband’s daughter…” as she went on to talk about the dancers one of my sweet kids said “Mrs. X, that’s about me…” (ARM me with a bigger heart) I went to my sweet kiddo and just held her and told her that she is now with good family who loves her with all their hearts and she safe with me!
Off we go to the theater. Most of my class was within arms distance to me so that we could chat or whisper as allowed. They were just wowed with the performance and were so quiet and watched every movement. They kept looking at me to show me the pretty dresses or to say “Did you see that” when the guy dancer picked up the girl dancer over his head. (ARM me with bigger eyes so that I may see everything from a kiddos perspective.)

The first dance only had a few dancers but the second dance involved all of them. The next comment “WOW Mrs. X, they have a black girl dancing. I didn’t know that black girls could do ballet.” (ARM me with patience and understanding as I realize that my friends of color don’t always have someone like them to see and to show them more ways they can accomplish what they put their mind into.) “Yes!! They can. Did you know that black girls and boys can do ANYTHING their hearts desire.” She was so excited and asked me to take dance lessons with her.

The last performances were more modern dance. The dancers took their buns down and their hair was long. Except for the black dancer. The same child said “why didn’t she take her hair down?” I said “Her hair is down, but she doesn’t have it straightened, she’s leaving her hair natural so it seems short, but it’s not in a bun anymore.” (ARM me with better ways to show my students that it’s okay to be natural.)

Lastly, the final dance was called “Unbalanced”. I had previously talked about how the ballet tells a story without words, that the music will help you feel the emotions and that the dancers will have exaggerated movements to show you the story. Soon after the song started, the kids in front of me said “Mrs. X, it’s so sad. Why is it sad?” (ARM me with understanding to explain to them it’s okay to be sad) I told them “It’s sad sometimes so that we can understand happiness. And that being unbalanced sometimes helps us feel balanced.” They said “Do you feel sad, Mrs. X ?” *tears well up in my eyes* (ARM me with emotions so they know it’s okay) “Yes… I feel the sadness too!”
The final piece was so emotional for me as my little sweet friend looks up at me and says “I wish she were my momma so that she can teach me these things.” (ARM me with a bigger heart because I just cannot take this sadness she feels some days) “I wish I could teach you to dance sweetie. I wish a lot of things…..for you especially”

So, if you want me to be ARMED… see above.

About the Author: T
he author is a career-switcher teacher and has been teaching elementary grades 2 and 3 for seven years. She says, “Our bonds are unbreakable. I advocate for my students everyday.”

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