Indigenous Pitch Dance Collective, Inc. is a collective of ethnically diverse Philadelphia- based dance companies whose goal is to create and perform works of artistic excellence that reflect and highlight the diversity of our city and its native, homegrown dance styles. We support emerging choreographers by providing rehearsal space, critical feedback and performance opportunities in which to explore and develop their artistic styles. Through the art of dance, visual and literary arts, music and theatre, we assist, educate and nurture children affected by natural and/or socio-economic disasters. We fulfill this mission with performances, residencies and workshops throughout the United States and abroad.
To Canal Street campers:
I had so much fun teaching and getting to know all of you this trip. It was my first time at Canal so I was a little nervous, but what a great week we had. Teaching your classes, taking other teachers class with you, and dancing in the Friday show with you are memories I am so thankful and happy to have. I better see all your beautiful faces next year!
To Second Zion campers:
New faces and old, I was happy to see all of you. I’m very sad my trip ha to be cut short, but site directing day 1 gave me the chance to spend time with all of you. I’m thankful to have seen all of you. I’d love to hear how the rest of the week went, so please do post me some camp updates here! I would absolutely love to here from you, and Canal kids too please! I already miss you all. See you next year!
To my fellow teachers:
Although we crack jokes and pick on each other a lot of our time spent together, I have to tell you all how much I love you…yes, all of you. I always enjoy learning from you, listening to you and watching you all bond with the kids at camp. When I found out I had to leave early, all of you were so supportive. I could tell you were trying hard to cheer me up my last few days in NOLA. It sometimes worked but even when it didn’t, it still meant a lot. I think we’re an extra special bunch and I hope all the anchors can stay on board and hold it down next year, and every year.
Thank you to all the campers, parents, guardians, teachers and Lisa for another amazing set of NOLA camps!
It’s so hard to believe that this year was my sixth time working in NOLA. It feels like we have always been here but at the same time it feels like it was just yesterday that we traveled here for the first time. Everything is so familiar and you just get right into the groove when you get here. It is so nice to go somewhere where people remember you and genuinely can’t wait for you to arrive.
This year was our biggest year yet. In 2 weeks we were able to hold 4 different camps with over 20 staff members. In this short amount of time, we were able to work with over 250 kids!! So cool! I think a big thing for me is the fact that we continue to get new kids at camp as well as a good chunk of returning kids. It is has been great to watch the kids grow with each year and to continue to learn even more about them. It is so rewarding to hear about their accomplishments! I also love the fact that we continue to have new staff joining us. It is great to see their reactions to what goes on each day and to see them become so excited when they truly understand what we do.
As for me, my role this year was a little different. With a baby on the way, I am a little hindered with the dancing portion of camp, so I took on the Art classes and was the resident lunch lady. It was really fun to take the art classes and expand them to really be a “class”. Just as with dance ,we did a warm-up for each class to get our creative juices flowing before jumping into our project. Our projects consisted of sculptures, mosaics, mobiles and puzzles. It was a really great week in art and the kids really enjoyed it. I had a really fun time trying make the lessons more educational and trying to get the kids to really express themselves through another medium.
Since I am stepping down from my role for a while to become a mom, it has been great seeing other people step up and take on certain camp responsibilities. With more people stepping up to be site directors, it makes me feel better about the program in NOLA continuing in the future. I hope that this continues to happen throughout the year with other organizational responsibilities. IPDC is doing great things and they need to continue!
I greet the parents and the kids each morning. Mostly the kids are sleepy, but excited for the day. Sometimes I have a younger camper on my lap who is teary eyed because they don’t want to leave their mom. Within minutes my Indigenous Pitch Team has every child smiling and feeling welcomed. We have around 60 children this week and I’ve been a cook, disciplinarian, “the boss lady”, a camper, doctor, and teacher all in one. My favorite role is definitely being a teacher, which allows me to really get to know the children on a more personal level. However, I really enjoy jumping in and out of all the classes and watching the amazing teachers at their best. Day 3 I took ballet and watched “Miss Jen” break down technique and ballet vocabulary, then end class with a beautiful combination that EVERY SINGLE BOY attempted. I also witnessed a class of 5-10 year olds master a tap combination and perform in absolute unison, taught by “Miss Pam”. They were so proud! They did Venn diagrams in journaling and compared New Orleans to Philadelphia or themselves to a friend. Boasting proudly about their history. In art class each group traced one person’s body and turned the shapes into Super Heroes and monsters. In Improv and games they sat very patiently waiting their turn to show mirror images of one another. At the end of the day, their favorite part, they added onto to their dances that will be showcased on Friday. I then make sure each kid is signed out by a parent before they leave. Although I miss spending the entire day with the children and being able to sit in a full class, I get to hear the parents say “my child wakes up earlier and earlier each day to get ready for camp.” “We just moved here and my daughter has been very closed off, but since coming to camp, has opened up tenfold!” “My son waits ALL year for this camp! He really loves it!” “This is an amazing experience for my children, thank you for doing what you do.” Those affirmations makes every moment worth it.
Today’s theme was Communication. At the beginning of the day we discussed good and bad communication with resolving conflicts and expressing emotions with the kids. We talked about different positive ways to communicate: through I-statements, body language and facial expressions, and through dancing and story-telling. Communication was the focus of all the dance classes, including modern, jazz, hip hop, and musical theatre. Footloose was the musical focused on in musical theatre class, and the children were told a prank at the beginning of class that hip hop music was going to be forbidden at camp for the rest of the week for being inappropriate and that they would only be allowed to train in ballet to classical music, so that they could better relate to the characters in Footloose who were forbidden to dance and listen to rock’n'roll music. After a quick “Gotcha!” and sighs of relief, the older campers discussed how the plot of Footloose related to the theme and the importance of communicating problems in a community, and not sweeping them under the rug. The prank really helped the older campers get into character for the Footloose choreography! In journaling the campers wrote letters to Barack Obama asking for change they wish to see in the world. Many campers wrote that they want dance camps to happen all over the world so that more children all over the world can go to dance camp with their friends! The art project of the day was making rain sticks out of paper towel rolls, rice, and brightly colored decorations, building on the theme of communication through music. Looking forward to tomorrow, and learning about differences!
The theme of Week 2 is “Stop the Hate, Start the Love.” The week started off with Devotion led by two of the campers’ mom. Since our theme of the day was responsibility, we related the story of The Prodigal son to different types of responsibility. Then the campers mentioned many different ways to be responsible in camp which included for your actions, cleaning up after yourself, caring for others, listening to others, and being responsible. The day continued with ballet, hip hop, salsa, and musical theatre classes. In journaling, we wrote advice columns about bullying and other potential problems, and then answered ourselves with constructive solutions. In art class, we made a giant mural with the ocean, and island, and the sky. All of the children were responsible for making animals and plants, as well as creative additions and added them to the mural. The result was a very crowded and colorful combination filled with contributions from every camper. All of the campers were very excited about starting their choreography for this Friday’s performance!
Woodland Dance Camp had an inspiring day discussing goals and future achievements. As usual, the day started off with Pam and Michael reviewing the theme and discussing how to set and accomplish ones goals. The kids created their own skits about what they personally wanted to do when they grow up. Some responses included: having a family, becoming a doctor, becoming a dance teacher, and finding a cure for cancer. This day certainly warmed the hearts of the teachers, knowing that many kids wanted to continue dancing and maybe even own their own studio. Jen and Michael also explored the theme of goals in jazz and modern class, and had the kids jumping up and catching their dreams. Pam’s music lesson plan with the younger children had them singing their hearts out and learning how to create mashups, play drums, and even the guitar. Journaling included the children drawing and writing stories about reaching their own goals. So many kids wanted to share; it was wonderful. Next, art class consisted of making “goal catchers” similar to the common “dream catcher.” They were made out of pipe cleaners, yearn, and beads. The projects came out great and the kids wanted to continue making more even after class was over. Overall, the day was extremely productive and it was uplifting to see so many kids want to achieve goals that can certainly be attained if they work hard. I hope they all learned valuable lessons about how they can make dreams happen, and how great futures certainly lie ahead of them!
Day 3 at camp was spent exploring acceptance of others and how it related to happiness. The day began with the teachers performing a skit that portrayed bullying and the alternatives to being mean to each other. The campers then performed their own bullying scenarios for each other. The theme of the day was presented again during tap, ballet, and salsa. During tap class the younger campers perfected some basic tap skills and performed a short combination for each other. In ballet class, the older group learned a classical ballet barre routine and worked their leg muscles with various jump combinations. All the campers got to experience salsa class where they got a taste of not just salsa, but also meringue and bachata. They explored partner work along with individual salsa steps. A few of the campers opened up about their experiences with Hurricane Katrina while discussing cultural backgrounds and the acceptance of change. The journaling project of the day consisted of a beginning, middle, and end to a story about bullying and acceptance. The campers pulled from real and imagined experiences to describe a conflict and a resolution. In art class we made tie-dye butterflies from coffee filters and markers. The butterflies will all hang together in a garden during the art show on Friday. A few of the camp counselors surprised the group with a beautiful vocal rendition of the national anthem while making their butterflies. Marissa shared some of her intricate hip hop choreography with the older campers during choreography class while the younger campers created movement maps during improv and games. They used directional changes to face and overcome an obstacle, teaching them about the importance of accepting change. The day came to a close with choreography creation, where the campers were challenged to add a few salsa moves and partnering into their developing dance numbers. As parents came to pick up the campers, it was obvious both the campers and teachers were excited to return the next morning and continue exploring the concepts of happiness.
Stretching during Modern class with Mr. Michael
Adding to this week’s theme of Happiness, we explored the concepts of Friendship and Teamwork. Pam and Michael opened the day with some hilarious skits about how to be a good friend and how to work successfully in a team. The kids even made some skits themselves and were VERY creative! Throughout the day in hip hop, modern, jazz, and musical theatre we explored the theme further using movement qualities like spatial relations, rhythm, and canon. We worked together to accomplish dancing and choreographic goals. In journaling and art we talked about friendship. We made descriptive poems using nouns, adjectives, and verbs about ourselves and found people we didn’t know that had things in common with us. In art we made people chains and decorated them with buttons, feathers, sequins, and googly eyes to look like our friends. In Improv and Games, groups of dancers worked together in teams to make a car, an airplane, and a flower. Then we lined up to do the machine activity and we made ice cream sundaes! We can’t wait till tomorrow when we get to talk about how Acceptance contributes to our Happiness!
This week’s theme at Woodland Camp is “Happiness”, and today’s theme was “Self-Confidence.” The theme of self-confidence was brought into each class that the students took. In tap and hip hop, campers had to be confident in themselves to show off their moves in the middle of a circle of their peers. They also made mirrors as an art project and crafted them in creative ways to demonstrate either things that made them happy or self-confident. Many of the students grasped the concept of seeing themselves with confidence when looking in a mirror and being proud. Similarly in journaling, campers wrote acrostic poems using each of the letters in his or her name to write words or phrases pertaining to qualities they like about themselves and would make them feel self-confident after reading it. In addition, they wrote short stories or drew pictures describing a time they had a high level of confidence and shared both their poems and stories with the group. In the journaling session, especially, campers truly showed their creativity by going into much detail in their stories and pictures. Many of the older campers shared stories in which they became self confident through performing or achieving something dance-related and stated that their rise in confidence was their reason for continuing to dance. One student in particular shared a story that was written so descriptively and creatively that it was touching to hear as a teacher.
Today, while I was at Church, I started thinking about everything that we have done this far for the children, and everything that we keep striving to do. Five years ago, IPDC had huge ideas for this organization and were thrilled to accomplish them. Now that we are celebrating the five-year anniversary, IPDC has even bigger ideas. We want to expand and touch the hearts of more children in different places, but the question is, how? How can we be so successful with it, and what can we do to make it happen? Indigenous Pitch is put together with such talented people, so that when we are putting our heads together and making things happen we are unstoppable. I feel blessed to be able to work with such a great team of individuals, I have learned so much over the years that I would have never learned if I wasn’t given this opportunity; it is definitely a life changer. I have already started my countdown to go back and see my NOLA family .. it is going to be the slowest five month countdown!!