“You broke my heart ’cause I couldn’t dance. You didn’t even want me around.”
Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance) by The Contours blasted from the loudspeakers as my fifth graders waited to break out and boogie. On one side of the stage the boys bowed on one knee and sang along. On the side the girls the girls crossed their arms no. But with the next line of, “And now I’m back to let you know, I can really shake ’em down,” they all leapt into the air and shook their hands.
This was my ninth year choreographing a dance for my class and as usual the introduction was met with groans and complaints. “It’ll be embarrassing,” Jackie said. “No way,” Devon protested. “I’m going to be absent that day,” muttered Juan.
When they’d finished their little diatribe I said what I always do. “Everyone participates. With respect. And you will all be glad you did.”
Over the next few weeks I wondered what the heck I’d been thinking. Trying to get 35 fifth graders with no dance training to sashay and shake in unison at the end of the year no less was driving me nutters. The boys kept shoving each other when they were supposed to be pivoting and the girls giggled and covered their mouths when they should have been shimmying.
“Get in line munchkins! And 5-6-7-8.” Every day we practiced. And when they didn’t get it, I just said, “Again,” in a deep voice like Morpheus in The Matrix. (Love that movie.)
Finally it was Talent Show Day. Kids arrived at the theater in groups of two or three. Boys in white t-shirts, slicked back hair, and rolled up jeans. Girls in poodle skirts and pony tails. Their excitement could have powered my computer. And keeping them quiet back stage was about as easy as shushing a tornado. (Hint: Have hyper kids run few laps. It’ll give them somewhere to put that nervous energy.)
“Now we have Ms. Woodward’s class dancing to…” the sixth grade emcees announced.
They all lined up, executing each move to, well not perfection, but to my friggin’ satisfaction. Every face shone with a new found pride. And as the Contours sang, “Do you love me?” I couldn’t help but think, “Yes I do.”
But don’t tell my fifth graders.