On Saturday 1/27/18 I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the state-wide conference of the CA Dance Education Association (CDEA) in Santa Clara. This was my first time at the conference and I was both excited and curious about what the experience would hold. I was slated to present an Ignite Session – a 30 minute session to share developments in the field, share new and developing projects with fellow educators engage in conversation about topical ideas in our field and gain new perspectives from around the state. My Ignite Session was titled Building Community: Inclusive Dance for Children With and Without Disabilities. Through full-bodied dancing, presenting and discussion I shared with my colleagues Luna’s Dance Inclusion Class Pilot Project, now in its second year at Grass Valley Elementary. This pilot project brings together Kindergarten – 5th grade students with and without disabilities to dance and be creative, with the objectives of building empathy and promoting a school-wide culture of inclusion. This is a project I am passionate about, a project of both beauty and challenge. I crafted the presentation hoping that my passion would come through and also, wanting to leave space for the questions and dialogue of others. As I set up in the studio where the presentation took place, I was greeted by both new and familiar dance educators who were eager to hear about the project. We engaged in questions and considerations of what it looks like to bring students of all abilities to dance together in a public school. And, as we got deeper into our conversation, the bell was sounded; time was up. As I made my way through the other fantastic offerings at the conference (Improv/Ensemble Thinking with Rebecca Bryant; Informed, Inspired Teaching with the National Core Arts Standards with Nicole Robinson) I found myself wishing I could spend an even longer time with the conference attendees to learn about their teaching practice and their pedagogical backgrounds. Upon leaving I felt both full and inspired but, wistful, too as if I were leaving camp at the end of the summer.
– Deborah Karp