Going into the class I was nervous about who we would be working with and how the differences in our schools would affect the class. Many of these concerns were wiped away when MK Abadoo introduced herself and the concept of having agreements for the class. I feel like the agreements were a way to see what aspects of the class were important to everyone. It was also nice to voice our opinions without judgment and have clear guidelines of what is acceptable in the class. This was the first time I have done something like this in class. I also feel like it closed the gap a bit between the Richmond and VCU students. The agreements started building an inclusive and creative class culture which was furthered by the warm-up that came next. I found the warm-up to also be a great icebreaker activity where we had to both express ourselves through words and movement. When we had to introduce ourselves as the person that inspires us it was interesting to see a bit of everyone’s’ background. Later when we talked about the purpose of the class and why we were all gathered here it was nice to know we are all working toward the same common goal even if where are from different places. While we went over how the class would run, I did have some logistical questions, but these were answered later. I expect this class to be full of surprises and new experiences and I can’t wait to face them with the support of my classmates and professors.
Entering MK’s class for the first time on Tuesday, can be best described as soothing. Prior to class, I was anxious about the required dancing skills, worried about the reactions from VCU students, and skeptical of how we would all work together. MK’s positivism, approachable attitude, and charisma, lightened up the tension and encouraged us to be free and participate.
I respected and admired collectively reviewing the guidelines the class had previously composed and then being able to expand the document with our thoughts as well. Compiling this list together, with everyone present, and the floor open for collaboration, really showed MK’s style of teaching. She encouraged us to digest the words already on their paper, and allotted time for those who wanted to voice their opinions and query what the class had already wrote.
After taking care of “housekeeping” or the logistics behind the class, MK jumped straight into dancing and her charisma was shown here as well. She used her body language to provoke everyone to think, move and feel the moment. The question, “ Who brought you here today?” really sparked me to think beyond the moment and use a small set of movements to then describe said person or people. Without MK’s comfort and openness, I’m not sure the class would’ve been able to participate so easily and engage with the activity fully.
I enjoy the class culture that MK has set and invited everyone to enter in. I enjoy the circle and openness, and the pauses for everyone to take a break, talk, and get to know each other. I believe that the fast pace keeps the adrenaline going and keeps the energy up.
The biggest challenge would be to never lose sight of this energy and to constantly keep up with the pace that MK has set. The pace is not unmanageable or hard to follow, but will take focus and desire to keep going. I am very eager to follow this pace and to constantly be moving, so this challenge may not be one for long.
I expect for these next few weeks with VCU students and even after 10/17, to be full of light and knowledge. I anticipate to learn more about the stories we will be told about RVA, learn from the people that we will be dancing with, and learn more about myself and what interests me. I believe that during this course, I will be charged with information and be able to explore ways of commemorating justice. I am enthusiastic to learn and take this journey with my fellow UR students, MK, Dr.Diaz, the VCU students, and the many others involved in Free’s project.
On Tuesday, August 27th, I had the opportunity to experience a classroom environment that reminds me so much of the dance studio culture that I was part of in my hometown, Kuching. MK resonates so much passion, thoughtfulness and also firmness in setting up the class ground rules. That hit home; the moment when we talked about respect, kindness and how much dedication we should put into as dancers/performers or as human beings. This familiarity with the whole situation I was in, affected me in ways that brought me peace and a sense of belonging.
In terms of the movement exercises, I think that those exercises helped in watering down the gravity of this course. Prior to the class, I had this anxiety of not being able to blend in with other dancers born from dance academies. Thanks to MK’s exercises, everyone was able to let their body move without any judgements thrown. I, for instance, started to embrace differences in terms of dance background, and I feel comfortable in my own body. MK further asked us to impersonate someone who inspired us to her dance class and that made our movements more personal and meaningful. I don’t know why I chose Michael, but it was so literal that he was the one who introduced me to Prof. Alicia. Deep down in my heart, I was thinking of my dance teacher, Serina. She reminds me so much of Prof. Alicia and MK; teachers who emit kindness, empathy and who embed these values in their movements. These values are one of the reasons why I want to do more than just dance. Maybe I hope it can bring healings and connection between dancers and their spectators too.
I expect to grow as a person and absorb all the good values from this environment. There are some challenges that I assume would appear soon, but I do believe with this kind of conducive class with MK, I would definitely get much needed assistance. I just have to be upfront about everything.
I was anxious and curious about traveling to VCU because I did not know what to expect from the new classroom, people, process, and product. However, after the first meeting, I became excited for an excellent learning opportunity under the teachings of a creative and intelligent artist.
The beginning of the meeting was filled with positive and lively energy. M.K’s enthusiasm brought joy and comfort to the room and it encouraged me to bring the same energy. M.K started with making a class agreement which I respected but never did in a dance class before. The agreements that were produced were generally to respect and to be kind to others which can be shown in many ways through behavior, mentality and verbal speech. The creation of the class agreements also provided the students a chance to share their opinions with each other which created a small yet powerful bonding experience. Moreover, the bonding experience increased when we were moving around. There were small moments of individual improve, along with introductions, that we later shared and copied from others. The movement allowed everyone’s energies to be shared with each other.
M.K characterizes herself as a cultural organizer which I believe translates through her teaching style. She brought everyone together for a purpose and is passionate about her project. Additionally, she is open to everyone’s thoughts and opinions and works with it. The definition of culture M.K. utilizes says that is is a way of living. I believe that she is creating a small culture and community in the dance studio. The culture in the studio is a respectful, fun, open, and hard working environment. For future project of my own, I hope that I can create the same environment that she created.
I did not face any distinct challenges that day, however, I know that as the project moves forward some will come up. From this experience, I expect to have more knowledge and inspiration for whenever I want to create my own artistic project for the community. I am interested to observe all the moving parts of creating a meaningful dance that impacts the community. M.K’s vision of the choreography is not yet apparent to me and I do not know what kind of emotions she wants to create with the dancers. During future meetings, I will be sure to ask what kind of mood she wants us to evoke. I believe that knowing the type of emotion to produce can alter the execution of the choreography.