This past week was National Dance Week. We aren't a Dance School, but we sure are a School that loves to Dance! Enjoy reading this beautiful post written by the lovely Ms. Zoe, our in-house Dance teacher, among many other things, who reflects on not just Dance Week, but the embrace of originality here at VVA. It brought tears to our eyes reading it! Thank you so much, Ms. Zoe, for al the gifts you bring. We are a lucky bunch!
Dance is probably one of the most innate forms of language. From the time that we are young, it seems like such a natural response to allow our bodies to speak through movement. I can still remember the absolute weightless feeling of flailing my limbs about, in no particular fashion; mimicking flight. Each motion completely my own invention from the curl of my fingertips, to the point of my toes. This is what it felt like to be absolutely free and move with complete authenticity. As we get older, social pressures act as inhibitors to this freedom of movement. We become more controlled, more in our heads, and less in our hearts. Yet, still it’s there…the natural inclination to tap one’s foot, or to gently sway from side to side. It lives and breaths within each of us.
For generations dance has joined communities together, through social connection and communication. For some it’s been seen as a spiritual experience. It is tied to our culture and allows history to carry on throughout generations. Most importantly, it transcends the limits of social factors, and allows us to just be in union with each other in our most natural beautiful state…happy and free.
I am so lucky to get to experience the joy of dance on a daily basis working at VVA. When I was first asked to instruct the dance class at VVA, I was a little apprehensive. Would the students really want to dance so frequently? I was pleasantly surprised to find how eager students of all ages were to have the opportunity to express themselves through this unique art form. From the vivacious pre-k’s who throw their bodies about with liberty, to the mindful teenager who forgets to “be cool” for a moment, while practising their favourite corny dance moves. From the impromptu dance circles that erupt at lunch like a Disney musical, to the heartfelt story telling expressed through showcase dance routines… dance is everywhere in our halls.
In discussing what we would do to celebrate National Dance Week here at VVA, I became aware of just how much dance is part of our school culture. In registering for Dance Nova Scotia’s ‘Dare to Dance’ challenge, we needed to have our whole school dance for 20 minutes together. This is of course something that happens all of the time at our school, without even questioning it. We ultimately decided on some classic line dances, followed by a student-led “dance circle” that invited each student to showcase their unique abilities. As I watched our students so naturally form their “whole-school dance circle” with appreciation for each unique individual, I realized how very lucky I am to be a part of a school community where students feel free to be completely themselves.
Watching these children move with such truth and joy has encouraged me to get back to my own natural roots of dancing, of which I’d cloistered for so long. Years of formal dance training had made me focus on perfection, and I’d forgotten what it felt like to experience dance as a pure outpouring of the soul. There’s no greater joy than dancing freely with the kids, not caring how silly I look. I honestly think the more ridiculous that I am, the more the kids enjoy it. Perhaps we can all take a lesson from these young dancers about what it means to live creatively, and authentically. Perhaps the only thing that we need to do in order to keep that spark of innocence alive throughout our lives, is to just keep on dancing!
With all my heart,
In keeping with the theme of National Dance Week, I asked each of my dances classes to share what they love about dance. Here are some of their thoughtful responses:
Dragonfly & Manta Ray Class (pk-1)
“Dancing makes me really, really, really happy!” -Regan
“Dancing feels so good and gives me exercise.” -Mason
“Dance is exciting!” -Bria
“I like playing freeze dance.” -Christopher
Melksham Monsters & Kronosaurus Class (grade 2-6)
“When I dance, I feel like I’m in another universe, and I’m the only one in it” -Greyson
“Even when I’m sad, dancing makes me happy.” -Ariella
“I like dancing because it makes me feel good about myself.” -Victoria
“I like dancing because I get to have fun!” -Olivia
“I love doing dance circles with my friends” -Kathleen
“Dancing makes me feel calm.” -Simeon
“Dancing takes me to a different world.” -Amelia
“When I dance, I feel like there’s nothing else around me.” -Payton
Megalodon Class (grade 7-9)
“When I’m dancing, I can just be myself. I don’t have to put on a face for anyone.” -Liv
“When you get into the groove you lose the negativity in your life.”- A.J
No holding back here! Our Bobcats (grade 5/6 class) were eager to share the straight up truth of what a student at Via Vita is all about. As they put it, #nofilterneeded. Here you go - right from the mouths of our most candid ones in the bunch, here is an honest recap of what they’re loving (and what they’re not lovin’) at Via Vita.
LOVE/NOT LOVE @ VIA VITA
By The Bobcats
LOVE: It’s like a TV show, you go to school, learn a lesson, come home, and it’s a happy ending at the end of the day.
LOVE: We all feel like a family because it’s like a home here... Except there’s no beds and stuff to lay down and sleep, but there is a couch.
NOT LOVE: We get a lot of homework. There’s so much I feel like can’t do it but when you get it done, you feel so good. Then your parents are like, “See, doesn’t it feel good?” And you really look at them like, “uuuuuuh!”.
LOVE: Everybody’s friends and everybody just hangs out, different grades and all. No pressure to be anybody you’re not. Just be.
LOVE: It’s so easy to be friends in a smaller school than a big school because in a big school you don’t know everyone, but here you know everyone.
NOT LOVE: Teachers are always around you. They notice everything!
LOVE: The classes are smaller and you get a better chance to get help when you’re stuck. I used to think Math was so hard. I, like, really know what I'm doing here.
LOVE: Gym is everyday. It’s awesome because you get to run around. And be loud!
NOT LOVE: They really push you to do the work yourself. It’s hard!
LOVE: You have a lot of say in how you do your projects and what you do them on. You have so much control over your learning.
LOVE: You can get here early and play in the gym or you can just sleep in and be late. It’s cool. But seriously, you still gotta get your work done on time. Trust me.
NOT LOVE: They always find a way to talk to your parents. Like everyday. They know everything.
LOVE: You can play together and not yell and punch, you can actually help each other be the best of yourself.
LOVE: You get to play outside a lot. You gotta wear a coat though. It’s freezing out.
NOT LOVE: No excuses on late work. You just have to do it. Like, if you don't do it, you're gonna have to eventually.
LOVE: You don’t have to wear shoes inside.
LOVE: At my old school I didn’t really do any fun activities, It was like math, math, math.
Here we do fun stuff like hikes, go to the park, play mantracker inside the building on the last day, and create plays and stuff.
NOT LOVE: They really force you to speak up. Once you do, it all makes sense and stuff, but oh man, it's like, I just don't know what to say! But then you do know.
A Day in the Life of a Pygmy Shrew
Please welcome our youngest writers in the school! Ages 4 and 5, our Pre-K & K class, with the help of their teacher, Ms. Meghan, has written their first blog post! Hint: Our classes pick their own class names for the year. This year, the youngest and smallest decided to pick Pygmy Shrew as their class animal! Other classes are the Coyotes, Bobcats and Moose. Common language for Via Vita, but we realize the rest of the world has no idea what we're talking about! Enjoy the read, straight from the mouths of our youngest, and especially inquisitive, students!
One day the Pygmy Shrews went to school. We wake up at home and we get dressed in Via Vita Clothes. Then we eat breakfast so we don’t get hungry. We get in our car and go to Via Vita. We get our jacket and boots off, then get your lunch box and bring it into the gym. Then you play in the gym with toys and friends and with imagination. After a little while we clean up then go upstairs for Morning Meeting. We sit quietly with everyone in the school and put your hand up if you have to say something. We have a morning talk and we talk about suff that’s going on and what is happening. We then read the quote and its about hard stuff and its about anything, important things, so we can learn. Then we sing O’ Canada and start the day.
We read books, like Annie and Jack’s story, and we go on Epic! to read whatever we want. We can’t go on other peoples things, but we can watch other peoples books. We like books about kitties, big foot, and dogs, and sharks! We draw pictures about what we read and then we sit in a circle and tell about what we drew.
Before we leave the room we have to do our sight words. We wash our hands and we sit with any of our friends in the whole school, like the big kids. We play outside in the snow, hide and seek, sledding, and throwing snowballs at everyone but we don’t hurt them, we throw it at their legs.
We go inside and the big kids help us hang our coats and snow pants up and we line out boots up against the wall. With our teacher we do our weather, the things of the day like the calendar and numbers. Then we draw a picture and write of anything that we like!
In the kitchen, we get dishes out, we stir up the food to make it mixed all together. We can cut stuff too but we use these round things to cut, knifes are sharp, be careful! We put some stuff in the oven, or it goes in the heater on top. The food is yummy and tasty. It can be sour, yummy sometimes. We make cakes for birthdays for everyone, and sing with candles and it’s happy!
We learn about the world so we know what’s around and so when we go somewhere, we know stuff like how stuff is made.
Gym can be Taekwon-do where we kick and punch, but not at people. It can be outside at the playground to play. We do Yoga adventures. Sometimes it is with the big kids, and sometimes the big kids show us how to do stuff they can do. We like to play with them because they help us and they are fun.
The other teachers come and teach us, too! Ms. Adele does music and we sing, dance, play games like pretend, and we practice what we’re going to do for the next show. Ms. Yolanda does art like painting and colouring and cutting. Ms. Alicia does French and we say Bonjour, and Merci. We do french songs. She also does patterns and math.
At the end of the day we do Chores. Like clean the kitchen, sweeping the floors, vacuuming upstairs and downstairs, wipe the walls, clean the stairs, clean the sinks, flush the toilets, and wipe down tables. The yuckiest job is compost because its smelly and yucky. The best job is vacuuming, toilets, wiping the whiteboards. Those are easy peasy!
Then we go home, but sometimes we don’t want to. We want to stay at Via Vita. It’s fun!
Welcome to Our Blog
Each post is written by a supportive member of Via Vita Academy, be it a teacher, parent, student, community member, who is invested in the topic of education. Take a read and comment below!