“Through the Classroom Window” is an opportunity for teachers to share the inspiring learning that takes place in their classrooms, giving others a glimpse into the heartbeat of the school. Today, we hear from Grade 8 teacher Marissa Unruh about the Grade 8 Dance Workshop, which teaches students about movement as a vehicle for expressing emotion, intention, and poetry.

Last week, Grade 8 students participated in a special dance workshop with Dustin Pym, a Toronto dancer, performer, choreographer, and trainer. He has been coming to our school for several years to run this workshop, working with students on expressing emotion through movement.

Through a series of exercises and explorations, students embodied the sense of being physically in one place but longing to be somewhere else. This theme ties into the poem “Libi Ba Mizrach” by twelfth-century Hebrew poet Yehudah Ha Levi, which Grade 8 students study in Language Arts, and which forms the basis of their dance experience.

During the two-hour workshop, they developed a deeper understanding of how movement, energy, tension, and intention can be used to express the theme of longing. They then incorporated this understanding into their final performance via choreography, which Dustin taught them, and which they will weave in different ways into new dance formations.

We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Dustin over the years because he develops in students a deeper understanding of dance as an art form and method of expressing emotions, themes, and intention.

Watch the clip below to experience some of what the students did in their workshop with Dustin!