Project Coach has incorporated dance as a new component the elementary school players engage in every Friday after school. Last Friday, the Springfield players were moved into the gyms due to bleak weather. A large bright room was cleared of ping-pong tables to construct a spacious dance floor. Phoebe Mayr, a senior from Smith College majoring in Dance and Anthropology who envisioned incorporating a dance component to Project Coach, and Susana Rodriguez, a junior from Smith College majoring in Dance and Psychology reviewed the routines and games that would be taught to the players before the players loudly entered the room. Youth coaches John and Barbara assisted Phoebe and Susana as they led the players through different dance related activities.
After forming a circle in the middle of the room, the players were asked what dancers they admired. “Ciara!”, “Michael Jackson!” and “Justin Bieber!”, the players responded in yelps. To gain the players’ attention a call-and-response clapping system was devised; five claps from the youth coaches were matched with two claps from the players. As a warm up players were asked to say their names and add a personal move. One student said his name and then dropped to the floor, playing dead. Another student said her name and then shrugged their shoulders. A player named Ryan started beat boxing. Alex created the ‘run away’ move, running away from the assembled circle towards the door after saying his name. The players’ heads rolled side-to-side and up and down as they followed the routine to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” before playing freeze-dance. Three different age groups of players ranging from third to fifth grade participated in the dance activities and routines. With each group Phoebe and Susana tailored the activities to fit the specific groups’ needs. The last group of players were awed by Susana’s hip-hop routine and asked her to demonstrate repeatedly.