Summer may have officially begun on June 21st but my summer vacation is just beginning. The final performance at the school where I was working has been completed, the fifth graders have been promoted and all students and teachers have gone home to enjoy a little well-deserved rest and relaxation. I finally get to join the rest of the educators who had already started their summer vacation!
Summer for educators should be for recreation or re-creation. One of the best ways to re-create is through art – both experience it and creating it. Last summer I did a series of articles which I called my Arts Immersion To Do List. I vowed to take in or create art at least once per week in each of these four disciplines: visual art, dance, theater and music. I was so glad I had this weekly article to write because it really forced me to follow through on my commitment and inspired me to find ways to experience art and create art on a budget. There is often great free art to discover in the summer months since the weather is conducive to lots of large outdoor venues. My summer won’t be as long this year so that’s less time to re-create but I plan to make the most of it!
If you are looking for ways to re-create, I suggest you celebrate National Dance Day this Saturday, July 26th. The Dizzy Feet Foundation always posts dances choreographed for beginners and for more advanced dancers to learn and enjoy. This year they even created a routine that could be performed in a chair using only arm movements to be even more inclusive. If you are lucky enough to live in L.A., N.Y. or Washington D.C. you can attend a large public event in Grand Park, Lincoln Center or The Kennedy Center respectively.
If not, it’s up to you to create your own way to celebrate. Get some friends together and put on your favorite tunes to start the groove, go out dancing with your favorite dance partner, find a country bar that offers line dancing instruction or a club that offers salsa or swing lessons and dancing. Or close the shades, blast the music and put on your own private performance just for you. Of course, you can always visit the Dizzy Feet Foundation website and learn the dance routines posted there to add to your movement repertoire. You may even have some friends willing to learn the dances with you. You could take that extra step and record yourself performing the dance to share with your students when you all return to school in the fall and share what you did over the summer!
As educators who give so much all school year long, it is really important to fill the well or refuel the tank. As an educator interested in integrating the arts, it is important to have arts experiences and challenge yourself to learn new things or simply enjoy something you have not done in a while. So, I am off to take my own advice and learn a little choreography. I may not be able to get to L.A.’s Grand Park but I may just celebrate National Dance Day on my kitchen floor right here in San Diego.
Happy National Dance Day – Everybody Dance!
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.