Florian Rouiller, one of our interns this year, comes to us from the MFA program at the University of Maryland. He is assisting Youth Programs Coordinator Wayles Haynes in teaching and facilitating in the Youth and Teen Exchange programs. He’ll premiere his thesis work, Profondeur Inconnue this spring at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.
My name is Florian Rouiller and I am an MFA student at the University of Maryland. This year I am working as an intern at Dance Exchange helping with Youth Programs, working with kids from ages 6 to 18. So far, this has been a new journey for me because I have learned new tools, methods and vocabulary for working in dance with kids. Although I teach a lot in the DC area, this experience is very new to me.
Dance Exchange gathers people of all ages and abilities in the community in a very friendly environment. There are no restrictions about who can dance and who can’t; instead everybody is welcome at Dance Exchange and this is why this place is very unique. I think this is great because I learned dance at a selective school in Germany, where the atmosphere was that dance was not for everyone but only for people with extreme talent. There is a very different feeling at Dance Exchange, and I am glad to see that everybody is welcome here to dance and that there is a place in the DC area where everyone can express themselves through movement.
My first three weeks with the program have been inspiring because I learned new tools in working with young kids and teenagers. Working with young kids was a new challenge because the instructor needs to find creative ways to engage them and hold their attention, especially at the beginning. As the class went on and we got into our activities, the kids seemed to focus more.
In the Youth Exchange class, we chose a letter from our name and created a shape with our movements. It was interesting to see how creative the kids were. We also played a game of following the leader and switching leaders. This was a great way for the kids to be aware of the space around them and really use all the space and every dimension, instead of just one part of the studio. Another thing we did was to move fast or slow when the music was playing and to stay still when the music stopped. I think that was a good exercise for the kids to be aware of sound and silence. It was nice to see also that some of the parents participated with their kids in the class.
The Teen Exchange class was interesting because it was fun to watch the differences from the kids’ class. I noticed that in many of the exercises, the teens needed to have a sense of rhythm in their dancing. Also we made some small groups and were asked by Youth Programs Coordinator Wayles Haynes to choose one or two of our favorite animals and create movement. In class, we supported and watched each other like a team and gave feedback.
I would strongly recommend this program for kids with little or no dance experience. Even kids with different abilities would be welcome–I think of my friend, a 12-year-old boy with autism, and I think that this place would be perfect for him.
Let’s dance and keep dance alive!