Two weeks ago, the children of PYP1 began their inquiry into how we express ourselves through music and movement. Since then, each day has, like magic, ushered in a new surprise, a new revelation, a new learning. Each day has seen our children dancing to a new tune, quite literally. Bringing this magic into our classroom, we are so very grateful to the parents, teachers and students of our amazing MBIS community.
Talented Teachers: The children were read the beautiful book ‘Rap A Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles – Think of That!’. The book describes the life of a ground-breaking African-American tap-dancing entertainer, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. As the children echoed refrains from the book and even watched a 1930’s video clipping about Mr. Robinson tap-dancing, something was clearly amiss. The children had so many questions – ‘How is the tapping sound made?’, ‘What kind of shoes are worn?’, ‘Can girls do tap dancing?’ . . . the list was endless! Luckily for us, Mr. Victor Wong, our music teacher, came to the rescue. Not only did he answer all their questions with great patience, he also showed the children a few amazing steps and got us all tapping away!
Soon after this, we had yet another teacher stepping in to share his talent with our budding dancers. Mr. Giovanni enthralled the children of PYP1 with his hip-swaying Salsa and soon had our students matching him move for move, step for step.
Star Students: It is especially endearing to watch the camaraderie that occurs when a student comes into class, as a guest. It is an unusual exchange of respect, of awe, of warmth and of course, of fun!. A different kind of magic takes place. Spreading this magic was none other than our very own MYP5 student, Tanya Chheda. Tanya has been learning classical Indian dance for the past ten years and is passionate about ‘kathak’. She demonstrated for us how this Indian dance, which originated thousands of years ago in the courts of kings, uses a combination of footwork, hand gestures and expression to convey emotions and bring to life stories of gods and goddesses.
On a Musical Note: We often speak about the national animal, the national flower, the national currency, the national flag, the national bird etc. This Unit, in all its uniqueness, presented to us, for the very first time, the concept of a national instrument. Mrs. Hautakoski introduced us to the national instrument of Finland, the kantele. The children watched spellbound as this very talented lady not only played the instrument but also sang a heart-warming hundred year old, Finnish folksong. Our children, the seasoned risk-takers that they are, also had a go at singing the Finnish version of ‘Twinkle Twinkle little star’ accompanied by the kantele. Finally, supported by a tune card, each of our children played out a little tune on this beautiful instrument, filling our classroom with a combination of soft, lilting music and the loud, euphoric sounds of achievement.
From Gujarat, With Love: Mrs. Shah, Mrs. Parekh and Mrs. Damani, three of our very graceful class parents came together to bring to class, two of the most popular and festive dances of Gujarat – the garba and the dandiya. Amid swirling, colourful ghagras and twirling tasseled dandiya sticks, our excited children learned a few steps of both the dances and some of them even created their own steps to match the rhythmic beats of the music.
‘Arigatou gozaimashita’, Japan!: Mrs. Yamada, graciously accepted our request and accompanied by her friends, performed for us the charming ‘Hanagaso Ondo’ (hana-flower, gaso-hat, ondo-dance). Resplendent, in their traditional kimonos and wooden geta (footwear), the ladies were a picture of grace, beauty and talent. Our young inquirers had a very long list of questions for them, which weren’t limited to just the dance but extended beyond it, in their bid to understand Japanese culture and tradition.
Stay tuned to read more about our experiences as we dance our way through this splendid Unit!