Last Tuesday, I had fifteen detainees in class. Yesterday, I had five. Today I’m working with all of the kids, but in small groups throughout the day. The dynamic in each class has been so different, my head is still spinning.
I like every class, and something is always accomplished, even when the class is hard. But these small groups of 2-5 dancers are really where it’s at for me. The kids feel safe enough to show me their personalities and take risks, and the payoff is incredible. Yesterday we spent nearly the entire session learning partner flips and floorwork on the mats, which would never happen in a large group. One of the quieter kids showed me a headstand he’d been learning in yoga and taught me (then the rest of the class) how to do it. Today a group of four regularly serious kids chose to dance to “Pretty Boy Swag” and went all in. They freestyled the beginning, learned 45 seconds of choreography, and laughed the entire time with the carefree playfulness of a 90s boyband. There are still challenges— boundaries are pushed differently when they feel more comfortable, and sometimes stabilizing those boundaries can be difficult— but it’s awesome to see the kids problem-solve and take care of each other when the room requires a shift. Relationships matter, and it is rarely more evident than when every person in the group shifts to help the rest of the group, including me, feel safe.