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Guest Blog: An Inside View of Dance and Drums Camp

by Thea  Kohout, Summer Camp Volunteer

This week at Theatre Action Project, our campers’ theme was Dance and Drums. Our three groups are:

  1. The 5- and 6-year-olds, also known as “Tigerflash”
  2. The 7-year-olds are the “Epic-ly Cute Puppies,” and
  3. The 8- through 10-year-olds are the “Funky Monkeys”

The campers have been working incredible hard all week and are beyond excited for their Friday performances on July 1st.

With Miss Chandra Washington (Teaching Artist), the kids have been learning a dance with movements coming from a combination of traditional dances from the Senegal and Mali Empire and contemporary urban hip-hop dances. The kids have been referring to these dances as “ancient hip-hop,” which seems fitting for the soundtrack of Common and TLC.

Miss Stephanie Chavez  (Teaching Artist) has taught campers about a traditional dance from the Mexican state of Sonora that depicts hunters in a sacred search for deer. The Epicly Cute Puppies are the casadores (hunters), the Funky Monkeys are the venados (deer), and Tigerflash are the venaditos (baby deer). This dance combines several yoga moves with beautiful ballet-like movements, some of which are actually pretty complicated, that the kids absolutely rock at.

I never thought I would ever see 10 wiggly seven-year-olds all quietly doing yoga together.

Miss Flow (TAP staffer Florinda Bryant) has been sharing stories about drums and dance from all around the world. A favorite for all age groups has been Jamari’s Drum, a legend from a West African culture about a young man named Jamari who learns the importance of his village’s drumming tradition. The kids drew their own illustrations to accompany the story and created an ancestor tree to honor people in their lives who have passed on.

Mr. Freddy (TAP staffer Freddy Carnes) has been keeping everyone entertained with his wonderful original songs, a favorite of which is the saga of Cowboy Chris. Also with him, the kids have been learning about the art of improvisation with his ever-popular Restaurant Game and Chair Game. Campers have also been acting out condensed and kid-friendly versions of Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

On Tuesday Dorian and Angie from Project Life had capoeira workshops with each of the groups. Capoeira is a Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, sports, and music. The kids not only got to use drums, bells, tambourines, and berimbaus, but also paired up and learned several basic movements of the dance.

This week has certainly been challenging to our campers, many of whom don’t have a background in the kind of dance they’ve been learning, but they have been working incredibly hard and we are all impressed with their ever-growing talent. I can’t wait for their parents to see them dance on Friday!

About creativeactionaustin

We are based in Austin, Texas and reach more than 16,000 young people every year through our unique blend of theatre and education programs.Our programs expose young people to critical social problems and offer opportunities for them to creatively think about how they can be a part of solutions to these problems. Creative Action is a unique blend of art and education – for us, the two are intertwined. We believe that using the arts as a teaching method provides a fun, engaging and inspiring way to learn – it incorporates the whole mind and body.

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