Taking A Risk: Charlotte’s Dance


One of my educational mentors, Scott Bedley, once told me, “Genein, you can’t expect your students to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.” That struck a cord with me and I now make sure that I’m doing what I expect them to do, if not more.

'Be life long learners – Read – Instruments DON’T play themselves, you need to practice! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your voice has value. Speak up if you have something to say.'

Well, this semester I had the wonderful opportunity to teach the EED649 Masters class in elementary arts integration at CSUN. Normally the students have to write a 5-page paper for their final project but I really wanted them to experience the ‘Arts within Literature’ process that we implement at our school with our ‘One School One Book’ program.

My CSUN students had to choose two literature works, one for their grade level and one personal selection, and create artistic pieces to show their understanding and deep analysis or interpretation of the book (and of course they had to do a written component with supporting theoretical frameworks, this is a masters class after all).

Their creations were amazing; from paintings, puppets and poetry to instrumental pieces and heartfelt video monologues.


And then it was my turn.


I told the class to take a risk and choose to present in an art form that is not their strength and that I would too.

My strength is in music and I’m not a bad visual artist either but the area I am not fluent in is dance. Though we reviewed basic dance concepts (i.e levels, locomotor, isolation, etc), I am not a trained dancer. There were a few students in the class that were trained dancers (talk about intimidating!!).

I also think it’s a little too dark in there –maybe I was hiding from their eyes – or from myself. I don't know. Nonetheless, I’m glad I didn’t chicken out (Oh look at the clock, we ran out of time! Oh well!).

But the clock was moving as slow as molasses and there was just enough time to end the semester with this movement piece about an arachnid and a pig.

Here is my dance interpretation of Charlotte’s Web: Exploring the friendship of Charlotte and Wilber.


Interpretation of Charlotte's Web Through Dance