...dancing is just discovery, discovery, discovery.
Batons, balloons, balls, bubbles...shakers, swinging, story telling...how fun and fabulous it is to be a tiny dancer, dancing merrily along.
So who let us dance like no one was watching? The Little Moving Artist that's who! With her "traveling" or moving arts/dance class, owner Eliza Zeevalk brings her bundle-o-fun classes to studios in the NJ-metro area. You can find Owner/Creator Eliza (a trained professional dancer with a degree in education) teaching movement to minis at Work & Play in South Orange and Giggles in Cranford.
At the core of LMA is the philosophy that "every child should use their bodies and imagination to create their own work of art." This ain't your typical shuffle-off-to-buffalo-plie-flex-and-point dance class! This is modern "movement" where kids as little as just a few months old are asked to feel the flow (I made that one up) and march to their own beat.
The dancing babes in Eliza's classes are young. She teaches Mommy and Me (Barre and Baby, Baby Jam), Toddler "mom and dad can participate if they want to" class (Toddler Jam, Having A Ball) and for the older set, Kinder Jam. We took Toddler Jam and Having A Ball. Sheppie was encouraged to listen, follow and be freeeeeee with his busy body self! This was my favorite part about The LMA philosophy -- the notion of self-expression and the encouragement/importance of "embracing a child's need to create and imagine" at a very early age.
Hallelujah, amen, for sure, heck yea...rock on with ya bad self! That's my answer to creativity as it applies to kids AND adults. If you know me you know that for darn sure and if you barely know me, and have just read the blog so now you sort of know me, you now know I am a lover of the arts. Inspiration inspires me, drives me, provides light, gives me energy. For me, creativity is life. So it makes sense that it delighted me to see Sheppie and the other kiddies in Eliza's class thriving (pretty much propelling themselves without knowing it) on pure creative energy.
SIde note, Eliza's energy is way up there. Just watching her made me tired. She's a mom to two toddlers so kudos to her for channeling her knowledge into other people's kids. Truly admirable. Additional side note, I wish I had more pics of Shep and the other kids swimming around like sharks and roaring like bears, alas, most of the time minis move too fast for my amateur-photographer shutter speed so you'll have to make due with pics of them roly-polying around on their balls and balloons...but you get the drift.
I asked Eliza how she came up with this gem of an idea that incorporates movement and imagination for wee-ones and she said it came to her when her daughter was two and she wanted her to try dance but she didn't want to start her in ballet class quite yet. Well whattaya know, that's my story too! I danced my whole life, I did it all, tap, jazz, ballet, modern, latin, hip hop -- you name it, I did it!
...so in my dreams I secretly (or not so secretly) wish for Sheppie to be the next smoothe operator; his generation's Justin Timberlake/Derek Hough/Usher but let us not forget, he is barely two. Dude can sway to the music that's about it. However, dude can indeed catch a ball, so we fell in love with Eliza's "Having A Ball" class. A sporty take on dancing -- a novel idea for my energizer bunny.
Sheppie and friends were given sensory props galore; they hop, skipped and jumped across stepping stone, shook shakers, bounced balls, "blew up" balloons, and even played pretend. It was mini movement mania!
In Eliza's classes, little artists learn in a relaxed environment. She mixes high energy movement games with colorful props, obstacles courses and visualization to create a unique new experience for boys and girls weekly.
I was struck by the ease at which the kids adapted to Eliza and fellow teacher Margaret's leadership, each one essentially "creating movement through instinct." The minis were making magical, imaginative moments without even knowing it. They bopped to the beat of the ball hitting the ground and tapping their balloons on their hands. They even stretched as tall as they could, exercising their brains and bodies.
It's a common joke in the mommy/baby crowd that Sheppie and I will pretty much try anything (if it's not a toddler activity we will make it into one). Since we are always trying new things, we don't always stick with one activity. We bounce around (pun intended). On that note, we are for sure going back to dance class. I hope that says a lot in terms of my endorsement for The Little Moving Artist. As famed dancer/choreographer Martha Graham said "dance is just discovery, discovery, discovery" and that, my friends is all part of the wondrous creative journey that is childhoodhood/motherhood.