If you stopped by the fourth grade music class on Friday, March 2, you’d have heard students shouting with delight in Russian: “Sa-SHA! Sa-SHA! Raz, Dva, Tri!" The chants are part of a traditional folk dance, called “Sasha,” that is thought to have originated in Russia. It’s catchy and fast-paced, involving clapping, chanting, and—much to the delight of the fourth graders—quite a bit of gleeful twirling with their partners.
The spoken intro to the dance (the nickname “Sasha” and Russian words for one-two-three) leads into a flurry of synchronized clapping and elbow turns punctuated by a fist-in-the-air “HEY!” The final part of the dance is a 16-beat promenade to find a new partner to start from the beginning.
It took only a few minutes for students to pick up the dance, but earned them immeasurable returns in laughter, movement, and the delight of discovering something new.
Each week, Wichman introduces simple folk dances from countries around the world. Recently, students learned “Los Machetes” from Mexico, “Limbo Rock” from Trinidad, and the “Dragon Boat Racing Dance” from Hong Kong.
“These are fantastic learning experiences that not only expose students to music of many different cultures and countries,” said Wichman, “but also nurture musicianship, movement, and joy, as we develop as ‘tune-ful, beat-ful, and art-ful’ musicians.”
What countries are up next? “You’ll have to wait and see!” said Wichman. “Half the fun is the surprise of learning where we’ll ‘travel’ next!”
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