Oberlin Blogs

Shall we dance?

July 14, 2010

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

I have an entry mostly written about the work at my local science museum that I have doing demonstrations. That will be posted soon, but right now I want to tell you about what I'm currently doing at the museum. Right now, I'm teaching kids how to polka.

Okay, that's not strictly what I'm doing. I'm choreographing for two musicals that kids put on through summer camps at the museum. The museum has several camps, covering everything from robotics to bicycling to theater.

That's the camp I'm working for. The kids have two weeks to rehearse and then perform a musical. The one we're currently working on is Cinderella from the point of view of the mice. It's quite amusing. The fairy godmothers are actually hillbillies, the prince is something of a dud, and the mice are a lot more concerned about where they're going to get their next meal than about anything that's going on with Cinderella.

Going in to the camp, I was a bit nervous, for obvious reasons. I've done some choreography before, and I've taught before, but it's all been ballet choreography and ballet teaching, and there's no way I was going to teach the kids at the camp to do ballet. More than that, ballet isn't exactly the sort of thing that you do to show tunes.

So far, though, it's turned out well. The main dance number in this show is a polka, and luckily I know how to polka. A little bit. The rest of it I learned from YouTube.

I won't say that teaching the kids has been easy. There's the usual drama you'd expect when you have nine-to-twelve-year-olds dancing in pairs, and the two week timespan is pretty short. The performance is this Friday and we still have a long way to go.

Nevertheless, it's fun. It's great seeing the progress that they've made so far, and it's been really interesting working on a different part of the musical theater process. (Besides the whole pit orchestra deal.)

The next camp's production? Essentially West Side Story, but with cats and dogs. And it's going to involve a dance battle.

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