by Adrienne Knudson, Middle School physical education teacher
Lakeside Middle School recently invited DancePl3y for a weeklong residency, during which they worked with students in grades 5 through 8. Based out of Vancouver, Canada, DancePl3y is an educational, award-winning dance program that has been delivered to students in over 10 countries including Canada, the U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Korea. Their philosophy is: “We believe that through movement you can do more than just help people get fit – that you can foster community, positive mindsets and vibrant health. Our goal is to help people discover, practice and maintain a positive and playful mindset towards physical activity and lifelong active living.”
The residency mission is to "… play with dance while promoting positive mental health through the 3 Rules of PL3Y: “Be positive. Be fun. Be yourself." These values support Lakeside’s physical education program goals to guide students toward healthy lifestyles. From March 12 through 16, physical education specialist and DANCEPL3Y master trainer Matt Leung taught Lakeside students simple moves from a variety of styles: hip hop, urban, ballroom, Bollywood, lyrical, jazz/funk.
The week started with a sweaty, upbeat, noisy, and fun-filled day of nonstop group dance. Students then discovered various components of dance which they could use to communicate emotions and energy and practiced putting sets of individually selected choreography together into small group combinations. The final day involved one huge dance with students moving to the same song while sharing small group creations combined with whole-class choreography.
When asked to reflect on their unique weeklong dance experience in physical education classes, students shared a variety of responses ranging from: exhilarated, challenged, and surprisingly fun, to this comment shared by an 8th-grade student: “Are you kidding? This is like the best part of PE ever!”