“I hope I will learn to dance a different dance I’ve never danced before.”

“I hope I will learn to dance a different dance I’ve never danced before.”

“This is how we’re gonna do. We’re gonna dance the Nepali song. Cross left leg over right. One – two – three – go.” Then the movie song,  Kale Dai, blasted from the instructor Pujan Wagley’s phone through the school gym. Over the weeks, we moved from the Nepali dance into “Whatcha Gon Do With That Dessert.” And  Pujan, a student at Worcester State and a Bhutanese dancer, taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders hip hop moves to rapper Darwin’s song.  Students end with a flowy, traditional dance to  Ki Chhori hu ma.  This is a story about working with Pujan at Concord, NH’s Broken Ground School where I brought a poetry workshop, too – so together Pujan and I offered poetry and dance.  Our work was supported by a grant to the 21C After School program by the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.

Here are some lines of poems students wrote about dancing with friends and with Pujan:

 

 

 

 

Pujan is one of the best dancers in the world.

When I dance I feel happy inside because

my body is moving.

I love dancing.

Sanjana

Pujan is so fun. I love dancing with Pujan

These are Pujan’s own words, “1 – 2 – 3 – Go.”

Then we start.

Soraya

My name is Molly. I drift

with the beat.

right, left, right, left.

Now repeat that a few times.

My name is Molly. I drift

with the beat.

No matter what, I keep dancing

Molly

When I dance with Pujan I feel…

Pink!

Happy!

Excited!

Silly!

Joyful!

Floating!

Fast!

Fun!

Esha

When I dance with Pujan he says,

like this,

left arm high,

then right arm high

Out of time.

Hakima

Put your left hand here and put your

right hand here. The girls do this

and the boys do this.

It is really fun to dance with Pujan.

Inaya

He says one foot at a time and move

your hips and, Always smile every time.

and, Don’t look sad. Be happy.

That’s why I love dancing.

Dolice

Dance is

fun

silly

weird

exciting

Emeline

 

When people dance with Pujan they feel like

they are about to fly in the Milky Way

because he can teach you how to do the dance

moves in a second. He doesn’t yell when you get

the moves wrong.

Tim

Dance feels like you could just

lift up into the clouds with

a mind of joy.

Bella

 

 

Well-loved volunteers who came to see the students perform at Parent’s Night and were awarded with flowers and art.

 

 

 

 

 

Of course we read lots of poems.  Here’s a reading list of ideas for a poem and dance celebration.

Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More, Poems for Two Voices.  We played with poems in two voices to feel the rhythm of movement back and forth between readers.

Arm in Arm – by Remy Charlip

I love this book for it’s crazy whimsy. The students didn’t move into stillness, but a way to imagine it comes from Remy’s poem:

(c) Remy Charlip

BEFORE ME PEACEFUL

BESIDE ME PEACEFUL

BEHIND ME PEACEFUL

ABOVE ME PEACEFUL

BELOW ME PEACEFUL

ALL AROUND ME PEACEFUL

ME PEACEFUL

Remy always makes me smile. Take “Riddle Joke:

“Ask me if I’m a boat. / Are you a boat? / Yes. Now ask me if I’m an airplane. / No, silly. I’m a boat.”

Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill  includes this poem we read like an echo chant.

“Colors dance

And colors sing,

And colors laugh,

And colors cry___

They make you feel

Every feeling there is.”

Honey, I Love by Eloise Greenfield  especially “Way Down in the Music”

This is Just to Say, poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman

The title of our workshop was “Building Friendships Through Dance and Creative Writing” and this collection gave us ideas for writing about friends, including “Dark Haired Girl.”

You Read to Me I’ll Read to You by Mary Ann Hoberman.  I adapted the poem “New Friends”  in this collection and it inspired many students’ poems about meeting a new friend for the first time.

 

Congratulations Pujan, new friend, and kids at Broken Ground!

For another post I did on dance, please read, “Why Dance Each Other’s Dances” at the Multicultural Kid’s Blog.

Thank you Louise Wrobleski, formerly the NH Literacy Institute’s Site Director at the University of New Hampshire,  for her book and workshop recommendations!

“I hope I will learn to dance a different dance I never danced before.” Words by Bella, Broken Ground School, before we danced and we were imagining how it would be.

 

 

 

 

A Different Pond and more 2017 Books about Refugees

Across the world, families are crossing borders in search of a resting place where their children can be safe and go to school. 2017 saw new books coming out to help children understand the lives of other children displaced by war and poverty.

A Different Pond by the poet Bao Phi, whose family migrated to the U.S. after the American war in Vietnam, and illustrated by Thi Bui is one. Bao Phi tells a story of a small Vietnamese-American boy’s ritual of fishing early in the morning with his father to catch food for supper before his father goes to work, one of his two jobs. The text and illustrations capture the boy’s love for his father, his growing skill in their ritual, his fear, and the tight web of their family as they learn to survive in the U.S. This story is a model for writers who seek to tell their own migration story. The author selects one ritual vital to the life of a migrant family and allows the emotion and the story to flow from it.

The Canadian magazine Quill and Squire profiles a number of books to help children understand the lives of other children seeking a safe place to call home in the article, Publishers and Authors Answer the Need for Books that Shed Light on the Refugee Experience.

One of my favorite books from the list is My Beautiful Birds, about a Syrian child’s survival, written and illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo. Del Rizzo’s polymer clay and acrylic illustrations help us imagine the black sky, the walking for days from a small child’s mind. “Day’s blur together in gritty haze. All I have left are questions. What will we do?  How long will we be here?”  The child has one thing in the camp that becomes home, birds he watches and feeds.  And he has his parents who love him.

A 2017  booklist produced by the New York Public Library is 16 Books about Refugees for Kids & Adults.  I’m honored that two of my books are on it. This list begins with this epigraph:

you have to understand/ that no one puts their child on a boat/ unless the water is safer than the land – from “Home” by Warsan Shire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Your Immigrant-American Neighbor Giveaway

My Giveaways Continue on this late August day.  My theme is books about our immigrant neighbors. Some of the books tell stories set in the homelands of families now in the U.S.  It’s meeting immigrant families here in my state that has led to  read books to help me understand their cultures.  Here is one:  a memoir for teens and adults. ON TWO FEET AND WINGS.

Abbas Kazerooni offers the world a remarkable memoir as he tells of his escape from revolutionary Iran as a young boy. Faced with the prospect of never seeing his parents again, he struggles to find his way in Istanbul, where survival often depends on his skill in knowing who to trust and when to flee. This is a compelling story full of tension and heartbreak.  To enter, comment here. If you are an educator comment about how the book could support your work.