One Child’s Perspective on Dance, Creativity & Rigor

By Patricia Reedy


Lately, I’ve been interested in the rigor of creativity. Luna Kids Dance, as a composition-based program, grapples with the challenge of illuminating what progress and achievement look like in creative dance. I interviewed Louisa, a nine-year old dancer/choreographer, who has been dancing with Luna since age three. Louisa’s responses may sound familiar to In Dance choreographer/readers.

Patricia: What are the most important things you’ve learned in dance classes?

Louisa: I think the most important thing I’ve learned is how to move my body in a way that feels good to me. How to know what I want to do.

Patricia: What is the hardest thing you’ve had to do or learn in dance class?

Louisa: I think controlled falling is really, really fun, but it is hard at the same time.

Patricia: Was there ever a time in dance class at Luna that you were asked to do something that you thought was too hard?

Louisa: Not really. When I’m taking dance class I just feel so able. I feel like my body can do anything. Like I’m Wonderwoman or something.

Patricia: Imagine for a second that you were a grown-up choreographer, what would be the hardest thing about it?

Louisa: Probably getting other people to understand exactly what I mean. Because I have very specific ideas about my movement and it is hard to get other people to understand sometimes. I have visions that a person looks just like this, it would be hard for me to accept that not a lot of people look just like that.

Patricia: OK, you see it in your mind, even if it is a solo, when you perform it, are you usually satisfied?

Louisa: Most of the time. Sometimes, after, I go and I sit and I just think about whether I want to change something or if I felt that something didn’t quite feel right.

Patricia: What happens when you get to the place where your body can’t quite do it? Do you change your vision or do you keep trying to do the vision?

Louisa: Usually they [Luna teachers] ask you to do the dance again the next week. So, I go home and think exactly what I want it to look like…and, if I made a really big change and the teacher says, ‘ok, I want you do the same thing as last week,’ I would probably just do what I had thought about even if it wasn’t exactly the same as last week, because I’d probably do what I was happy with. My favorite thing is taking two people’s dances–my dance and someone else’s dance–doing little pieces of each dance and I think I make a really cool [new] dance when I do that.

Patricia: Is it hard when you’re working with someone else and you have different ideas than they do?

Louisa: Yes, definitely.

Patricia: How do you solve that problem?

Louisa: I try to accept that it won’t be perfect.

Patricia: Your mom said that one of the challenges for you is when people who are not dancers ask you what kind of dance you take; that you have a hard time describing it.

Louisa: Yes, that’s really hard. People are like…’OK’ and then they say, ‘so you do ballet?’ And I’m like ‘noooo’–it is really complicated.

Patricia: I understand, we have the same problem. Can you recommend a new name for our dance class that might make it clear to people who only know ballet?

Louisa: (she pauses) Kids Choreography.

This article appeared in the April 2007 issue of In Dance.

Patricia Reedy is the Executive Director of Creativity & Pedagogy at Luna Dance Institute. A lifelong learner, she enjoys sharing her inquiry process with others.