Creative Movement & Social Distancing: How to Foster Confidence in Self Expression Through Dance During a Pandemic

  • Academics
  • Health and Wellness
Elizabeth Dailey

“How can we keep students distanced during Creative Movement class?”  That was one of the challenges facing Mrs. Pingle at the beginning of the school year. In true Aspen Academy style, solving this problem required some creative thinking...and help from our very own MODI!

Students in dance class on MODI educational furniture

MODI Educational Furniture

Years ago, on a tour of a different school, Ms. Scala heard a teacher talking to a student, “Why can’t you just sit still and be good.” Her entrepreneurial spirit was inspired: why were these two concepts mutually exclusive and could moving actually improve learning performance and behavior. In those moments, MODI was born. The educational furniture line (MODI stands for MOve and DIscover), allows children to sit in any number of configurations and gives them the opportunity to move while they learn.

Students in dance class on MODI educational furniture

MODI Learns to Dance

Creative movement and dance typically include participants in various positions with each other around the room, often touching, sometimes close, and sometimes distant.  With COVID-19 restrictions in place, and our passion for keeping our students, staff and families safe, modifications had to be made. Mrs. Pingle and Dr. Resendez brainstormed at the beginning of the year and wondered if incorporating MODI into class was possible. Mrs. Pingle ran with the idea, and the students are loving it.

Students in dance class on MODI educational furniture

The idea to use MODI came from the necessity to keep kindergartners properly spaced, and to give them a “home” to return to after various activities. Then, it became a dance prop that provided curiosity of movement - in it, on it, and around it. Since younger students tend to crave touch, Mrs. Pingle has incorporated lots of ways for them to connect with each other using their feet and a lot of eye contact, mime, and expressiveness while staying in their own space. MODI has also worked well with older students, as they increase core strength, engage in ballet floor, barre, and pilates work. Rather than heavy cardio, students work on less intense cardio, with more yoga, breathing, meditation, and thought creation. Her goal is always to provide structure and freedom in her classroom, and MODI has allowed that, even in COVID times.

Inspiring Students Through Dance

Mrs. Pingle loves teaching Creative Movement because it stimulates students’ minds, bodies, and souls. Her joy and inspiration come from “seeing students’ personalized movement, learning from healthy mistakes, their discovery and their confidence.”

Follow @aspen_academy on Instagram to see the students’ use of MODI in action!

About the Author

Maya Pingle, Dance Instructor

Maya brings over 25 years of teaching experience in dance, choreography, and Pilates to Aspen Academy. Her teaching style and passions stem from her early years in India, lessons learned while extensively training and performing professionally as a child through adulthood, and raising her own children in this world today.

Maya diversely studied all dance in Chicago and was a scholarship trainee at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York, performer with ballet, modern, jazz, opera dance companies throughout the US, and a long time choreographer and dancer with the Radio City Rockettes touring casts. She was a top 3 finalist in the Pilates Anytime NEXT Instructor competition 2015; national high school senior ARTS awardee, and National Endowment for the Arts 1st place award-winner in Chicago. She has performed in film, TV and commercials before settling in Denver, coaching Pilates, teaching courses at Metro State University and creating a children's movement program. MDP, an enlightening performance-style approach to traditional movement facilitated important life skills.

 

Maya is looking forward to spreading her excitement and diversity of movement with Aspen Academy. She has been inspired so far by the sense of kindness, community and her shared belief, that there is more than one way to achieve greatness in learning.

 

Degree:

B.S., Ballet, Performance and Broadcast Journalism, Indiana University (Bloomington)
Certified Pilates Instructor, The Pilates Center (Boulder, CO)
Certified Pilates Instructor, Kathy Grant Heritage Training
Certified Instructor, Progressing Ballet Technique