The difference a stage makes

The multi-purpose room I teach in at the Language School has acquired a stage over the holidays. It’s about half-a-meter off the floor, with red carpet, and red satin curtains around its base. Very cabaret! It makes you want to run up the stairs and start show-dancing.

When each of the three classes arrived for their lesson I got them to go straight up those stairs and stand on the stage. Some started dancing or ‘performing’ straight away. Others automatically stood in a line across the front. We played with ‘position’ words for a while – “Stand at the front of the stage… stand at the back… in the middle…” – in order to get them experiencing the space, and the view they have from up there.

Having a space that is clearly a performance space brings out the performer in lots of kids. Like having access to a microphone – they can have a taste of themselves as a performer or a star.

One class didn’t want to come down. At the end of the lesson I put on a CD of different tracks and invited them to dance. Their teacher and I just watched. They were so inventive! We had characters, we had slapstick, we had dancing to make others laugh, and dancing that was the child’s natural, joyous expression. At first only the boys were dancing, but by the third song, they had come down the stairs and taken their female classmates by the hand and brought them up on the stage. Everyone dancing to Bob Marley singing One Love – you can’t ask for more than that on the first day back for Term 2! “It’s a good song,” one child from Brazil beamed as she grooved with her friends.

1 comment so far

  1. Ros on

    A stage, especially one with curtains that could be pulled back and forth, was the main reason that my Year 7 classes vied to be the one that gave a Christmas concert at the Hawthorn Peppercorn Club (a kinder name than Over 60s!) in the 1980s. That curtain was swished back and forth even between items of 15 seconds to the extent that the audience must have got dizzy from all the swishing! But, you’re right, Gillian. Kids love to perform and it was a great excuse to get decent singing happening, hilarious skits from normally quiet kids and polished performances all round.
    In addition, rather than expecting the children to bring afternoon tea, the Club provided ice-cream which was a huge hit. For weeks before hand, in spare moments in and out of class, the kids made Christmas cards which they distributed after the concert to every person in the clubrooms – something they were keen to do as I had told them that for some of the audience, it might be the only Christmas card they would get.

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