The participants in the DEL Planet Dance workshop went on a transformative journey this past week. We traveled to many cultures and countries through the study of dance, and together we built a strong and richly diverse community. I came away from the workshop not only deeply appreciating the arts of various cultures, but also feeling a powerful connection to the group as a whole. We discovered our own personal cultural roots while finding the threads that tie us to other world traditions, weaving together a beautiful and vibrantly colorful tapestry of life experiences. We gathered different artifacts and nuggets of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, as well as jewels of inspiration and creativity, from each of the lesson plans and cultures that we experienced.
What stood out to me the most from this wonderfully stimulating workshop was the true power of dance. For the first time, I viscerally understood what dance can do – it can penetrate across disciplines into the very heart of humanity. It is a universal language that can communicate and express anything and everything, and it is an invaluable tool that can be used for all forms of learning, teaching, communicating, and understanding. Dance can be used as an entry-point for developing literacy, social skills, and emotional expression. One can employ dance as a means of teaching intellectual, creative, and academic subjects. Previously I believed dance to be simply an art form and technique to be learned and performed, but now I understand its deeper purpose. Dance is a language that can be used to grasp, understand, and interpret all of the things that make up world in which we live.
Another realization I had was that in this age of globalization, it is imperative that multicultural values and traditions become an everyday resource for teachers. I strongly believe that the value of multicultural dance education does not merely lie in learning the techniques of dances from around the world, but in the cultivation of a multifaceted perception of the world and empathy with the diversity and individuality of all those whom we encounter.
In this short, but intensive workshop, we investigated the characters that comprise a culture. We explored techniques, styles, traditions and practices of different dance forms, brainstorming the many beautiful ways that we can bring these values to the different contexts in which we dance, choreograph and teach. Instructor Ann Biddle brilliantly led us through these explorations, and I am certain that each one of the participants left with a new spark of energy in their “teacher’s heart.”
I feel extremely blessed and grateful to have been a part of this wonderful family this week as we thoughtfully journeyed through the challenges and triumphs of integrating multiculturalism in the classroom and in everyday life. I feel fully equipped to carry these ideas forward in my own personal practices. As Ann said, “You have the ingredients, now you can make your own soup!”