This spring I have had the pleasure of working with our Theater Specialist at the YMCA, Marissa Metelica, to put together a play with our after school kids. It was a fun process, but challenging as always when working with a demographic of kids who describe themselves as lazy.
I came to my supervisor at the top of year with this idea to work with Marissa and the counselors to put together this production that the kids would be entirely involved in. I wanted them to work on something that related in all their structured activities - dance, theater, arts & crafts. My hope was that they would be more excited and invested to participate in the individual activities if they saw how they all come together for a larger final product. I think it worked!
Most of the work was done by the 4th & 5th graders and middle school students who came together to adapt the classic tale Hansel & Gretel. They developed a storyline and script through improvisation exercises with Marisa. They imagined what their set would look like and with their counselors created a candy house window and bushes with berries. Younger students helped me cover our gymnasium-turned-theater with greenery to give us that enchanted forest feeling. Meanwhile older students constructed wolf masks and pixie wings.
I had a ball choreographing the all cast dance numbers, mainly the "wolf dance." In the scene, Hansel and Gretel are lost in the woods looking for their mother and meet a pack of hungry wolves. As a play on the story and song of the Three Little Pigs, "Who's Afraid of The Big Bad Wolf?", I chose Michael Jackson's "Bad," for the wolves to show just how bad they are.
(Oh, and just for fun: Can you count how many Michael Jackson movement references there are in this one dance?)