As a dance teacher and a stay-at-home mom, I love to make music and movement with my little one part of our daily routine. Stacey Pepper Schwartz is a dance educator and a mom too. With sensitivity and recognition that not all parents feel prepared to facilitate movement experiences with their children at home, she has created a new DVD, Up, Down, & All Around that guides viewers of all ages through an interactive experience with creative dance. The video embraces the precepts that anyone with a willing spirit and willing body can enjoy moving creatively and benefit from participating and getting active together as a family.
Up, Down, & All Around is structured like many creative movement classes and feels very much as if Stacey is leading a class in your living room. After, a short introduction, the program begins with a seated warm-up that isolates and builds awareness of individual body parts, gradually bringing the body to a standing position. Over the next 30 minutes, Stacey directs her participants and viewers through fundamental skill practice and movement exploration. She provides time for students to slow down with some yoga-inspired breathing and balancing, allowing the movers to refocus while building head-tail awareness in the spine and length in the body. Stacey ends things on a high note, allowing each child to pick and show their “favorite thing.” There is even a bonus, create-a-dance activity which demonstrates choreography building through chance as the children pick out a random sequence of movements which are then performed and practiced to spirited accompaniment.
The movement in the DVD is accessible to all experience levels. There is nothing pretentious about the material, the environment, or the contributors. The children involved are eager and having fun, they readily express their own ideas just as children do in class. With the true spirit of a teacher, Stacey validates their ideas and moves on toward her goal without breaking stride. The adults are game too, enjoying the playful opportunity to get active. Real-life moms and dads of some of the child participants, these grown-ups wiggle, gallop, and roll with it.
Musician Steve Blunt plays live throughout the class and two of his recordings are featured as bonus music videos on the disc. His bouncy tunes support the various activities yet stand-alone with singable melodies and lyrics. In fact, you may be humming them long after the DVD ends.
The dance studio is carpeted and the movers fill a space that is also accommodating cameras. Tight quarters do not detract from this particular video, however. Instead, this attribute functions as evidence that the material really can be adapted for any location, including a family’s living room. A few varied camera angles keep the production from becoming static, while bright, colorful costumes and decor create a setting that appeals to both boys and girls.
My husband, son, and I had a wonderful time getting active with the movers in this presentation. My little guy is an active two-year-old. He was able to copy and participate with a bit of encouragement and assistance from us, and it was easy for him to continue moving in his own way to the lively music even when the directions were geared to older children. Versatility is the real strength of Up, Down, & All Around. Parents (or educators) with little experience can pop in the DVD and get every member of the family or classroom up and moving in no time, yet there are opportunities for new discoveries and learning with repeat viewings. Stacey also offers additional program notes (a free download) and other resources at her website, LeapingLegs.com, which help facilitators expound upon and supplement the seed of knowledge and experience planted with this program.
Preview the Video on YouTube
Leaping Legs Creative Movement Programs was honored with Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Children’s Products 2009 Award and 10 Best Active Products 2009 Award. If you would like to purchase Up, Down, & All Around for your family or classroom, visit the Leaping Legs website.
Also, stay tuned here at Dance Advantage!! I was so pleased with Stacey’s video that I asked her if she would be willing to give away some copies to my readers. She generously agreed, so be on the lookout for that giveaway – it’s coming soon!!