Last week, we spent 5 days at Blue House Nursery & International Preschool (Turf City) as part of our artist residency with L’Observatoire, Isabelle Desjeux’s art studio there. Our intention for the week was to spend time playing and exploring with the children at Blue House, to find new ways that nature can inspire the way we dance and move… and inspired we were!
Each morning, we would begin the residency with a walk along a short trail, collecting leaves of various sizes, twigs, etc. We also used materials found in the studio, such as twine, yarn, and rubber seeds from Isabelle’s collection.
In Open Studio, the children joined us in an open format exploration - with music playing in the back, we explored how the materials moved and what we could do to the materials that would make them move differently. “Blow leaves blow” became a fun game for the children and we proceeded to play the game without the leaves, only our bodies responding to playful gusts of wind. At other times, we found new ways to combine our Segni Mossi training with the materials, such as dancing with paint-dipped twine tails that left traces on the paper where we danced. The Open Studio experience felt like a different type of loose parts play (which we held once with the help of our friends at Tinker Yard), one using natural materials as the starting point.
In the afternoons, we had our own explorations with the materials, which led to the creation of a new performance with a Giant Taro leaf, titled In My Balloon.
We ran our nature-themed Dance Playground Workshops with 4 different groups of children. The ideas that arose from Open Studio were incorporated into the workshops. We started with a performance of In My Balloon, which received a standing ovation by some children. Then, we invited the children to join us in exploring the leaves and responding to our movement proposals. It was delightful to watch the movement decisions that they made and how they interacted with each other. The teachers were hands on deck to look out for safety, as well as to join in the dance and play.
Thanks to the teachers who came up to us after to share their observations. One teacher noticed her student, who rarely connects with others, expressing herself and making connections with us. We noticed this same child immersed in her own leaf dance during the dance jam. Another teacher shared that her students continued exploring our movement proposals in her classroom and that they will give the children the time and space to further develop from where we left off. Thank you teachers for your dedication to the children!
We look forward to sharing this nature-themed Dance Playground with more children, teachers and schools! Get in touch with us for a chat at firstname.lastname@example.org.