Dance Exploration at Mary’s Place

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By Artist Mentor Betsy Mills


It was a great privilege to work with the girls and young women at Mary’s Place this spring. We had a unique group every week and had so much fun exploring dance together. We went through a few different exercises or steps you might encounter in a jazz, modern, ballet or hip hop class. We played a “Dance Elements” game, where each student pulled a slip of paper out of the “Element” bags and made a dance. For example, a student’s slip of paper might contain the words: arm, swing, slow, smooth, and move in a straight line. From these words, the student creates her own original dance phrase. Students could then show the rest of the group their phrase and try performing it to different types of songs. We also learned a phrase that we could practice performing in unison, in individual parts and in a canon.


I don’t know the details of how and why their families have come to Mary’s Place. I don’t know the specific challenges of each girl and young woman with whom I worked, but I know that on Thursday nights they had a safe place to come and try something new. They had a chance to show their creativity and receive a positive response, a chance to strengthen and stretch their bodies, build confidence, work as a team and laugh when their limbs didn’t go where they wanted them to go! I am thankful for an opportunity to work with them and, most of all, for the opportunity you provided for these precious and unique girls and young women.