Learning Inside-Out by Krista Solheim
I am a dancer, choreographer, body worker and teacher. I am inspired by the uniqueness of how a single body moves through this world, the literal container for all that an individual has collected and accumulated over time, the physical and mental and emotional dimensions.
Over the past 21 years, I have pursued an independent creative, performative and teaching dance practice. I have spent a considerable amount of time working with children through independent community projects across Canada as well as with the Regina, Saskatoon and Moosomin and Montreal Public School Divisions.
Art has the ability to bring people closer to themselves. I am fortunate to be working in a profession that inherently lends a microscope into my own being. I learn more through every creative process and teaching situation I enter. I am humbled by and indebted to the art of dance. I believe dance is an integral part of childhood education. It is not enough to engage only the mind in learning; the body must be a part of the equation. The knowledge held inside the body is of as much importance as the information, data and facts that are put into the mind.
Dance will elevate spatial awareness, coordination, cooperation, physical and body awareness and will challenge balance and physical ability. But, when entering the realm of art and dance, a deeper physical world can be found through the development of intrinsic imagination and imaginary worlds. Children can find a range of qualities inside their bodies, unlimited varieties of force and power and softness and delicacy. To experience the body ‘working as a whole’ in a breadth of situations can bring a true knowing in the body physically, sensorially and emotionally.
What if some of the thought-provoking questions asked in a school context had to do with the physical body, with what is happening inside the body’s sensations, or imagination? What would we be valuing and exploring on as educators? What curiosities would be enlightened? What questions would children learn to ask of themselves?
Teaching is not about answering questions but about raising questions – opening doors for them in places that they could not imagine. ~ Yawar Baig
What if a child is asked to consider the force of a movement? To consider the force generated inside a movement; the making of a forceful movement; forceful action; the external force generated by a movement; the speed at which the movement is carried out, the force of the intention behind the movement? What do they learn about action? What do they take with them into play? What information do they learn about their actions and how their actions affect others and the world around them?
What if the spine is engaged in other ways? What happens when we are not always upright? What do we learn when the body is allowed to take on other shapes? What happens if we are given freedom to listen to and follow inner instincts? Inner voices? How does this impact our value of ourselves? What if we are supported to follow inner instincts as children and in a school environment? What do children take with them into their own futures and how does that impact their future choices, how they live in the world, and the future generations that will make decisions about the world they live in?
What if children were asked to consider what they would whisper to a nostalgic memory?
What memory would they connect to a broken heart? What messages are burning on their hearts? What would they shout out into the earth? How could they say these things with their bodies? What messages do they send with their bodies? What intentions do they have?
What if a child is given a moment to simply close their eyes, sway slightly forward and back and notice the response and ripples inside the body? What if they could take a beat to notice the inside of themselves, both physically and emotionally? What if they can begin to feel, perceive and physically know how they themselves fit into this world? What if a child is given a sense of their own belonging as they are and a value is placed on their own bones, muscles, joints, emotions, thoughts, and sensations?
Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul's weather to all who can read it. ~ Martha Graham
When children are given an opportunity to focus on the inside – thoughts, sensations, imaginations, ideas; they can begin to counterbalance the constant bombardment and attack of the world around them. The endless stream of images, sounds, media, games through their availability to internet, quick information, social media; the excitement of selfies and snap chat are at their fingertips. All of these things lead children to a sense of self that comes from the outside. Their worth becomes connected to external forces and those forces are given power.
Internal vs. external self-identity; when entering the world of art and dance a child is learning to pay attention to the physical body and in turn to look inside the physical body; gain a tangible experience of the knowledge that the body holds; develop and value the inner life and the unique qualities each child possesses. The child’s individual differences are celebrated and given value. Each child is the only one who possesses their own body. Only that one child gets those secrets to themselves. They must be given an opportunity to know themselves, their internal identity. Identifying these differences and supporting the learning of ‘self’ lie at the heart of creative movement and dance.
A child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him. ~ Pablo Casals