Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Group Emerges

Wow. Wow. Wow.

In our last class it became clear to me what this group is about. The group identity emerged. There was a group force. They were one group. I did not realize that until I began writing about it. Groups are created and go through their own gestation period. And then one day when it is ready, the group emerges, it is whole.
Class started a little differently than usual. All the girls arrived in pretty crumby moods. Two reported they were "angry" and stood against the wall. The remaining students were a chorus of "headache," "stomach ache," and "bad day." They were a unified front. I listened to their grumbles for a bit and then devised a new plan for the class. My structured lesson would have to step aside for a moment.

My skills as an improviser kick in. I am creating and performing simultaneously. I am reading the audience and responding to it.

I ask them to choose a spot on the floor and lie down on their backs. I lead them through the three deep breaths we usually begin class with. Then, I lead a guided imagery. We returned to sitting and I lead them through some breathing exercises that I use in my own meditation practice. Stuck breath is the best way I can describe some of my students.

I had them check-in with themselves by finding their pulse. Each girl tried to find her pulse, I went around to each girl and found it, then showed them where to feel on their wrists. Then, I told them we would do an experiment to see if we can get our pulses moving faster. This became a follow the leader game. I started by using an imaginary jump rope and told them we were playing follow-the-leader and I am the leader. I did this for a about a minute then ran over and  tagged one of the students saying  "She's the leader!" We all did her movement. Then, we created a follow-the-leader-line traveling around the space. Each girl had a chance to be tagged and lead the group. After everyone got a turn. We gathered in a circle. The girls were panting and smiling. Without prompting, they all checked their pulses and described how fast they were going. They were smiling, laughing, excited, invigorated and talking to each other about the experience.

After a brief water break, we gathered in front of the white board. A spontaneous conversation erupted about the brain. They were so into it. Each one had a question, or something to share. The group was formed. I then turned this energy onto the book I brought. It was a book about opposites, the theme this week. Again, excitement erupted. I showed the cover and opened the book, they started spontaneously reading it out loud together. I turned the pages, and they read the book as a chorus. Then we went to the white board. Tell me opposite pairs. I couldn't write fast enough.

 We were ready to dance and move the opposite pairs. One girl shouted out Freeze Dance and so we added an element of that to it. I would call out an opposite pair from the list. They would move on the first word, then I would ring the earth bell to signal the next word. After exploring the opposite pair in movement for a bit, I would pause the music, freeze, and share the next pair. They were so into. One of the pairs they came up with was Mom/Dad. This they had a lot of fun acting out. The movement exploration overall seemed to be a great and much needed release for the girls (who were all cranky and unwilling to move less than an hour ago).

There was a pretty large group all the way to the end even though we did lose a couple. All the pains and grumbles and anger was gone. We danced it all away. I tossed the scarves to them and yelled Free dance! Here is where their game happened. One girl said, Hey! Why don't we pass the scarves to each other? And so they did. Some girls had two scarves, some had one. They would dance up to each other and trade scarves, all while dancing. This was their dance. That was their structure, their game. And they created it together. On their own.

An ensemble.

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