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Hip Hop Dance Club: Self Expression, Confidence and Teamwork

This year we have had so many fun after school clubs.  Today, I am writing about our latest fun and instructive club offering which is on Hip Hop Dance. My background and degree in Dance Performance and in Physical Education and a love for teaching children the joy of physical activity and health made this club a perfect fit for all of us. 

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Hip hop dance classes give students a great opportunity to share experience and grow as a group. In each class, students face both physical and mental challenges simultaneously. Students learn dance combinations that engage various groups of muscles that stimulate mind and body. This comprehensive kinesthetic learning opportunity is a great way to engage even the busiest of learners. 

The emphasis on self-expression in hip hop dance class separates dance from other physical activities. Expressiveness is imperative to a great performance.  Hip hop dance class gives students the freedom to be themselves and to be proud of who they are and how they express movement, thought, and emotion.  Dance is a great way for them to release their emotions physically. 

Students grow as a group of dancers and learn to persevere in overcoming obstacles by working together to create and master movements and perform together.  

And I’m sure you thought it was just Hip Hop. It turns out, we are growing healthy, confident kids, who can persevere, express themselves and work together via another method – Hip Hop dance.

– Coach Rothlisberger


About Shanshan Rothlisberger: Shanshan earned her Bachelor in English and Dance Performance from Inner Mongolia University in China and a Masters in Physical Education (emphasis in curriculum and instruction) from the University of New Mexico. It was not until coming to the United States that I discovered most Chinese children are not given an opportunity to enjoy daily physical activity and learn the importance of physical health. I feel greatly honored to have been uniquely blessed with an opportunity to share my passion for physical health with others.

Over the last 8 years I have been gaining teaching experience working with youth and adults in China, South Korea, and the United States. I believe that the diversity of this experience has helped me develop the ability to quickly recognize and honor each individual’s learning style. In addition, my challenging dance performance degree in China taught me to approach physical education with a cheerful and encouraging attitude. In Season 10 of “So You Think You Can Dance”, I was selected to go to Las Vegas to participate in the final round of television auditions. In addition to teaching Physical Education, I also have experience teaching Chinese, ballet, ballroom dancing and Pilates.

Finding Poetry

I discovered poetry in the fourth grade when a student teacher, fresh from college, bravely undertook the task of leading nine year olds through the poems that are always included in the anthologies of best loved poems. At that time, it was hard to imagine anyone loving them. I don’t remember the teacher’s name, but, she had long brown hair, silver hoop earrings, and a patchwork skirt. She smiled… a lot. Our class teacher, Mrs. Stern, whose name tells you all you need to know about her, had admonished us to listen, behave, and learn something. Then, she excused herself and left the student teacher to her fate. I would like to say that it was at that moment I learned to love poetry, but like many love affairs, poetry and I did not hit it off at first. I came away from that experience with an understanding that not all poems need to rhyme and with a wish that I had a pair of silver hoop earrings and a patchwork skirt.

However, some of that experience must have made a significant impression, because in the 5th grade it was such a feeling of revelation when I discovered the humorous poems of Shel Silverstein. I was completely enamored by “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and began to write my own poems. I remember particularly enjoying pairing words and names. For example, Wyatt Earp and burp. Much can be written on the subject of a burping gunslinger. By middle school, I expressed my teen angst in a journal filled with poems that owed much of their inspiration to song lyrics and boys I liked. My poetry may not have been great, it may not have been original, but it made me feel both great and original to compose it. Once all of my teen moodiness had found a home on the page, I was a gentler and kinder daughter, sister, and friend.

Today, I enjoy reading, discussing, and, sharing poems with my students, and still occasionally writing them. I love to tell my students that poetry is everywhere. It can be found in a drop of rain that falls from the eaves, or in the song of a cricket. It certainly can’t be contained in a single form, or follow one particular set of rules. Even the Bible is full of poetry, in particular, the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. Poetry can also be found in the New Testament. Mary and Zechariah’s songs of praise from the book of Luke come to mind, and the Beatitudes are as beautifully worded as any poem. We talk about the power of poetry to paint a picture with words, to capture a moment, or to give expression to pain and joy.

One of the pleasures of our after school poetry club has been watching students develop their own love for poetry while experimenting with its different forms. I also relish those opportunities to share poems that I think they will connect with and love as much as I do, or listening as they read aloud a special favorite of their own.
Poetry club resumes during the 2nd session. I hope your 3rd, 4th or 5th grader will join us!

Melissa McDaniel, 3rd Grade

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