Currently, I am on an outreach dance team at BYU called “Kinnect”. The name Kinnect comes from our team’s goal to help children make a “kinesthetic connection” between their bodies and mind. Kinesthetic refers to the sense that detects bodily position, weight, or movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints. We want the children we teach to learn this bodily connection through dance so they can become aware of themselves. Whether it be school subjects or life lessons, we also want them to make connections to the world through dance. Application is the most important part of learning. After attending our classes, we hope they can make both kinesthetic as well as world connections.
During winter semester we choreographed dances for a show we take to elementary schools all around Utah. After performing our show, we teach dance classes to the children. This semester we have already been to 5 schools, or what we call residencies, around Utah. During spring semester we travel to a school every day for three weeks. For our fourth week we will be traveling to Southern Utah and Las Vegas to perform and teach at schools there. This makes for exhausting, but very rewarding days!
The theme of our show this year is about heroes. We start with superficial heroes, wearing spandex suits, capes, and masks. The show grows towards historical heroes, one being Thomas Edison and the other Helen Keller. Eventually the show reminds the children that they are all heroes. We want the children to leave inspired, knowing they can make a difference today. The Spirit is apparent as we perform for and involve these young students during the show.
But this is only the beginning. The best part happens after the performance: the teaching! Watching students think critically and create is so rewarding! The “Kinnectors” try to involve the use of core curriculum for the grade being taught. We look around the school and their classrooms to see what they are learning about and try to apply it to the classes. The students understand and remember concepts better when it is “in their bodies” as well as their brains. The visual and “hands-on” learners especially benefit from using their bodies to understand concepts. Having them use and move their bodies is just one of many ways you can apply what the students are learning.
Though we are there to teach, the students have taught me so many things and have been answers to many of my prayers. My heart melted when I heard one of my students say to me, “I can be a dancer today?!” Yes, yes you can. We all can. It is for everyone. Dance is an endless gift.
To get involved or learn more about Kinnect, visit:http://www.byukinnect.org/