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September 06, 2016

Follow Your Own Beat

Lee Kwidzinski and Anthony Hutchcroft at ArtStarts

Sometimes all is takes to get kids moving is the beat of a drum and a playful soul to encourage movement. At the end of August, our ArtStarts on Saturdays and ArtStarts at River Market, we were brought to life by Lee Kwidzinski and Anthony Hutchcroft. Together, for an energetic class that explored movement with live percussion.

Lee is a dance educator and expressive arts therapist. She was joined by her partner Anthony on percussion and her daughter Abby who was helping to facilitate the class they called Jump, Bend, Sway, Twist and Shake!

Tony started with a brief introduction to drums. Kids gathered around Tony and his drums of various sizes. "What can you do with trees?" asked Tony. One child eagerly suggested a tree house, glancing slyly back at his parents for approval. Tony went on to talk about how wooden drums are made. Some are made from a single tree, hollowed out and covered by an animal skin. Different sizes produce different tones and resonation—the bigger the drum, the louder the sound. Other drums, like bongos, are made from gluing together panels of wood. The sound they produce is sharper and higher in pitch.

One especially large drum resembled a canon, and he allowed the kids to put their hands in the hollowed-out base to feel the air get pushed out when he hit it.

Lee then took the lead and got the kids (and their parents!) moving. She told the group to imagine the floor was a drum and that we were beating it with our feet. The exercises began simply, matching our stomping to the beat of the drums. Discipline is important in dance, and the kids quickly picked up on it, following Lee's instructions to a tee.

During a free dance time, the kids had to pause when the music stopped, sometimes with their bums on the ground, other times toe-to-toe with the nearest dancer. At one point, the kids had to pause on one leg in "airplane pose"—we were impressed with their balance, especially while holding in their giggles!

Lee was exceptional with the kids, bringing them in close to hear instructions for the next activity. She led them in a jumping lesson, skipping in a circle and stretching—complete with spiders, cats and giraffes to help them reach their toes.

To end the energetic session, Lee and Abby brought out a large cloth to create a canopy under which the kids ran and jumped. From the youngest to oldest, every child was encouraged to reach his or her potential and let loose. In true dance-class style, Lee taught everyone how to thank the instructors and themselves on a job well done—with a bow.

At the end of the session, we sat down with one young mover-and-shaker to ask her a few questions about the workshop. She's pictured below leaping high into the air!

  • Q: What was your favorite part of today's workshop?
    A: Putting our feet on our heads!
  • Q: What are you going to share with your friends about what you learned?
    A: I would tell my friends about the airplane game and how we can turn into an airplane with our arms.

Here's what others had to say about the experience:

"Thanks for bringing this to our hood. You are helping us to raise active and bright kids."

"Live drum and lively instruction had even the older kids engaged and paying attention to their bodies, exploring and moving rhythmically in collectivity and in one's own space. Thank you for this experience!"

"Awesome! Great! Can you do one for adults?"

Check out lots more photos in our ArtStarts on Saturdays and ArtStarts at River Market Facebook albums!

Also check out these great photos of Sunday's event taken by the New Westminster Record!

We look forward to seeing you again at the end of September! Join us for a musical treat with Rumba Calzada. Latin music has a special way to connect with people through rhythm and dance. Experience Rumba Calzada live to see and hear how rhythms are put together to form this wonderful music. Maybe you'll even learn how to dance the Cha Cha Cha! Join us at ArtStarts on Saturdays at the ArtStarts Gallery in Vancouver on Saturday, September 24 or at ArtStarts at River Market in New Westminster on Sunday, September 25. Learn more.

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