Monday, April 22, 2013
I took a short hiatus from focusing on my puppet business to take a Dance Education Laboratory class in the city, at the 92nd Street Y. The class, DEL, was time consuming and wonderful, I met amazing people and had an adventure every Monday evening. Just the act of heading down to the train station in Tarrytown was an act of faith about how important dancing is in my personal and professional life. The DEL class is wrapping up in two weeks. I hope to springboard into choreographing a piece that's been bubbling around in my limbs. Whenever I stop moving, it comes up and forces my mind to explore new movement options. I put down whatever I am doing and dance. But what's kinda cool is that just as DEL is coming to a close, I have started back with puppet show season! Last week I had four puppet shows and I could see that they were all profoundly influenced by what I have learned in the class. Being surrounded by teachers, by master educators and people who really think about how to impart learning in the most holistic, gentle, exciting and fun way has really rubbed off onto how I view and produce my puppet shows. Due to the nature of the beast, a puppet show has a huge improvisational element. Like, when it's freezing out and I can't strum my ukulele because my fingers are numb...then what? Or when twenty more kids show up to the show than planned-what do I do? Yesterday a lawn-mower was blasting in the near-distance. How can I still do a peaceful and connective show with that WHIRRRRRR sound behind me? Staying calm and creative is the only way to appoach these situations, and it's part of what makes being a puppeteer so fulfilling. I plan each show meticulously, just as I would prepare a lesson plan for a classroom, but my mind is always prepared to hover above the plan and improvise to meet the situation. Like when my hands were numb with the whipping Spring winds on Saturday, I could still bang on my drum, so I extended what I had planned for the drum 'call and response' section. And then I used the soft plushy worm puppet as a mitten to sing “The Teacher Song!” With the lawn-mower, I just brought in extra amplification, and with 20 extra kids I pulled up a game where the kids got to talk into the microphone. Keeping focused on my ultimate goal, whether it's communicating an Earth Day theme in a silly and fun way or helping a birthday girl enjoy her birthday show, is my essential focus. And getting there is the improvisational part!