“We have dance class? This is the best day of my life!” –2nd grade student, Reach Academy
Luna Holds the Thread by Nancy Ng
Constancy, guts, unwavering determination – these were on my mind when I greeted Paula, a parent at one of our Oakland schools. Her family danced with Luna several years ago at a residential recovery center where we bring MPACT (Moving Parents and Children Together).
Six years ago, Teresa was dancing with her foster mother at a community site while waiting to be reunified with her birth mother. A season or two later, we met up with her again—this time dancing with her birth mother at a residential center. Dance was the way they were able to reconnect.
During those MPACT sessions, Paula was pregnant and gave birth to her son Justin. She was joyfully dancing with both of her kids the week after he was born. Justin was snuggled close in a baby carrier while Paula held on to Teresa ‘s hands twirling, rocking and gliding. Paula and her children danced with us throughout her recovery and once she left the center they came to free family dance classes at the Luna studio. We ran into each other occasionally when she came to visit staff at the residential center–both children in tow. She always greeted me with a huge hug and let me know that she was adjusting well to life outside of the residential center.
After not seeing this family for a couple of years I was thrilled to meet them again at one of our school sites. Last year, Patricia and I taught her daughter, Teresa in a fourth grade class; and Amelia taught her son during his weekly transitional Kindergarten dance class. After a few weeks of teaching, Teresa ran up to me while I was putting dance supplies away and pulled me towards her mother. Paula gave me a huge hug and ran to get her son to meet me. Of course, he did not remember me, but stared at me with wide open eyes as I crouched down low to say “hi”. Paula said, “This is my friend Nancy, she knew you when you were a baby.” Then she introduced me to her fiancé who was standing right next to her—he greeted me with a firm handshake and smile.
“It’s super important to feel comfortable with yourself, with your body and dancing really makes awareness in young children. Class like yours is so essential.” Studio Lab Parent
“I hope that this connection to herself and ability to take feedback/prompts without triggering that deep wound can continue to flourish and provide another way for her to navigate being a learner.” Studio Lab Parent
“Dance has become my escape…When I dance, I feel everything but human. I almost feel god-like. When I dance, I feel like I matter.” Teen Choreo Workshop Dance Student
“Dance means how to express yourself. How to feel how you’re feeling.”
“This is the best day EVER!” (5 year old mini dance camper in response to parent asking how his day went)
“Success and failure are both fleeting and the work of our lives is not defined by either one.”
–Meg Glaser Teran, Dance Educator, Leadership cohort 2014
“I love to move so much that when everybody has to sit down when we discuss things it is really hard for me to stop moving.”
“A challenge for me was doing the weight sharing with a partner. I overcame it by just trusting my partner and be calm and think positive.” 5th grade assessment, New Highland Academy
“My Students are very sensitive and aware of how their peers look,
speak and react to them. The stigma of special ed is really a
challenge esp. with high functioning kids. When in intimidating
situations the lower functioning kids will just tune out and feel
diminished. Dance is helping them to build leadership skills, and have
confidence in their bodies and minds.”
‘What I’ve observed is that when kids leave dance class, they are READY to learn…”
“I feel like I’m coming home!” Summer Institute 2010 participant upon entering Midyear SI reunion January 29, 2011
“What I’m going to remember most is how we used to feel very free…” 5th grade graduation, New Highland Academy