Lessons from the girls and young women of Dandelion Dance™
“How are you doing during these challenging times?”
This is the question that starts most conversations I have been having these days. Over the phone or via email, everyone is commiserating, supporting, and problem-solving – trying our best to navigate a very new set of experiences and expectations.
As a team at Dandelion Dance™, we have been focused on making sure that we stay connected to our dancers. Our organization’s role in fostering a sense of community, especially in the context of physical distancing, is as important as ever.
This current collective experience – the challenge – includes some combination of staying home, restrictions, and trying our best to follow a whole lot of rules. All things that can be particularly difficult for children and teens. Mostly “stuck at home”, many routines have flown out the window and it is natural for us to worry about our young ones. We worry they will spend too much time on screens, that they are too isolated from friends, that they will fall behind in their academics – or spend too much time on academics – and that they won’t follow important health protocols.
We are indeed living through an uncertain chapter of life. But what I am also learning is the kids and teens that I know – my wonderful students – are resourceful, responsible, and oh so creative!
Through the process of strategizing how best to support our dancers, I have discovered something wonderful that Dandelion dancers can share with us! They are seizing the new opportunity for play and exploration and we would all benefit from taking note.
What are our Dandelion dancers up to?
As I check-in with dancers on the phone and online, they are telling me about how they are following their creative impulses, helping their families, and reconnecting with activities and skills that they haven’t had time for in their usual busy-world lives.
Unexpectedly, and without my prompting, each dancer I spoke with, shared a story about how she is making the most of her time at home. Here is a sprinkling of what was shared with me.
A Dandelion dancer “stuck” at home ...
A Dandelion dancer “stuck” at home is teaching herself how to play the piano. She is filling the house with beautiful ukulele music. She is enjoying listening to her dad sing while he renovates the basement.
She is painting rocks, writing songs, building tunnels between bedrooms.
She is skating on frozen farmers’ fields, doing yoga in the sun, sleeping in a fort in her living room.
She is walking the dog for mom, babysitting siblings while parents work from home, gleefully helping dad tear down the drywall in the bathroom.
She is reading – LOTS! – and filling her mind with questions, ideas, and dreams for our world. (See the Dandelion Dancer’s All-Ages Reading List below)
I called one 13 year old and she explained that she is currently the family chef. She informed me that on this particular afternoon, she was preparing to make salmon and tea biscuits for dinner.
One of my 8 year old students answered the phone in homemade lego-roller skates. She proudly described how she had created them by tying lego blocks with wheels onto her shoes.
A 16 year old Company member expressed that lately, she is now doing exactly what has always filled her heart up most – reading, writing poetry, and painting watercolours in the coziness of her home.What’s more – although not at all surprising – our Dandelion dancers are taking lots of time to support each other and their communities. They are sending their friends and family loving and hilarious videos, they are calling their grandmothers, and they are posting special birthday affirmations for pals who can’t be with friends on their birthdays.
Alongside connection, let’s celebrate the space our kids are getting for play, creativity, and rest!
Despite these current challenges, I want to recognize how amazing kids and teens are doing! And I want to take note that for many kids and teens, the slower pace, less social pressures, and more time for play and creativity are welcome and nourishing.
We humans have natural coping mechanisms that come out in alone time, in art making, in cooking for pleasure, in nature walks, in sitting in the sun, in rest. None of these things are to be underestimated or undervalued and each best emerges when there is empty space, unscheduled time.
As always, my students inspire me. This week of online connection has reminded me that there are gifts to be found when we see the world through the imaginative eyes of a child or the thoughtful and passionate lens of a teen. The girls have reminded me that we learn through hardship, that there should always be time to play – for child and adult alike – and that the combination of staying connected and creating some distance, some space, can be a healthy way to grow.
The Dandelion Dancer’s All-Ages Reading List
All recommendations come highly recommended by a Dandelion Dancer.
Becoming – Michelle Obama
The Girl Who Drank the Moon – Kelly Barnhill
Are you There God, It’s Me Margaret – Judy Bloom
Red River Stallion – Troon Harrison
Flush – Carl Hiaason
The Crooked Timbers of Humanity - Isaiah Berlin
Fifteen Dogs - Andre Alexis
The Flying Troutmans - Miriam Toews
The Courageous Princess - Rod Espinosa