We've got just over a month until fall semester starts. There is a lot of prep work that goes into planning classes, but one of the most fun is making new playlists for our weekly dance party.
Every A.B.L.E. class and workshop kicks off with a Dance Party. The music starts pumping about 5 minutes before class officially begins, and continues for the first 5 or 10 minutes of class as the ensemble trickles in. Once a majority of the group has arrived, we start to circle up and will play “Follow the Leader” dancing around the room, or let one person show off their best moves in the center of the while we cheer them on. There’s usually some break-dancing, Samuel and Kathleen will pull in a partner to dance with, Colleen does an awesome Robot, and Ben’s high kick goes behind his head! Rachel surprised us one week when she knew all of the lyrics to “Do You Love Me” by The Contours, and taught the class a full dance sequence including The Mashed Potato and The Twist. Our group loves music - check out this video from our original show SUCH STUFF AS DREAMS ARE MADE ON to see how our actors incorporated singing and dancing into their scenes:
There’s a method to this madness: It’s great to have some unstructured time to let loose before we need to focus on class work. More than that, Dance Party is an invaluable time for our Teaching Artists and Facilitators to check in with all of our actors as they arrive and to figure out who might need a little extra attention on any given night; some actors barrel through the door and hop right into the party, but others might come in a little tired, shy, or just not in the mood. We can also get a sense of the group energy and dynamics. One of our all-time favorite Dance Party stories is from a few years back: Andrew came in really upset and not in a great mood. He kept his winter hat on and pulled it down over his head to cover his face and stood in a corner with his arms crossed while everyone danced. Fellow ensemble member Sam R walked over to him, pulled the hat off Andrew’s head, and very firmly said “I’m being your friend right now! GO DANCE! You’ll feel better!” And sure enough, Andrew was playing air guitar in no time, and was able to leave his bad mood at the door. That's the magic of Dance Party!
Dance Party also serves as our ensemble’s physical warm up. One time, “Brown Eyed Girl” came on the shuffle and we had so much fun singing along that we turned the “Sha La La La La Las” into our vocal warm up too.
And, obviously the #1 reason for a Dance Party: It’s just plain fun!
So next Friday (or any day!), clear a little floor space, turn on some of these tried and true favorites, and dance along with A.B.L.E.!
- Alena – worships Beyonce, but has the choreography for “Single Ladies” down pat
- Andrew – celebrates One Direction’s entire catalogue, but especially “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Best Song Ever”
- Ben – Any Michael Jackson song will do!
- Claire – “Summer Lovin’” from Grease
- Colleen – “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor
- Emily K – “I Gotta Feelin’” by The Black Eyed Peas
- Emily L – “We’re All In This Together” from High School Musical
- Fletcher – “Problem” by Ariana Grande
- Hannah – “All That Jazz” from Chicago
- Jack – “Greased Lightnin’” from Grease
- Kathleen – “Do You Believe in Magic” by Aly & AJ
- Lucas – “Gagnam Style” by PSY
- Lucy – “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars
- Marissa – “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift
- Natalia – “Let It Go” from Frozen
- Quincy – “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry
- Rachel – “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
- Samuel – “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon
- Sam P – “Everything is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie
- Sam R – “Treasure” by Bruno Mars
(p.s. we'd love some new suggestions for music! Please share your favorite songs to dance to in the comments below!)