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Dancing with Kids is Important!

August 17, 2011

We work with so many wonderful and talented SmartSitters, and today we would like to spotlight SmartSitter Anna L., one of the SmartSitters featured in our video. (You can’t miss her making cookies with the two absolutely adorable little boys she SmartSits.)

Today, Anna shares her story with the SmartSitting community of how she celebrated National Dance Day:

When you say ‘summer’ to a child, they think ice cream! Playgrounds! Tree houses! Movies! Babysitting must keep me young, because I think of the exact same things…with one small addition. Dance. After I’ve gotten a cone from Mr. Softee, grass stains on my knees, and monkey bar blisters on my hands, I get most excited about National Dance Day, which was the last Saturday of July. National Dance Day is all about getting up and moving, whether you’re young, old, or somewhere in between. Dance studios, families, organizations, and entire communities come together to channel their creative abilities into movement and dancing in this annual celebration, encouraging the nation to stay healthy and have fun while doing it.

This year I got excited about summer and National Dance Day by choreographing a flashmob-style dance on Columbia University Medical Center’s (CUMC) campus, where I am working towards my doctorate in Physical Therapy. I told some of my classmates about my idea to bring dance to the medical community, and they immediately jumped on board, despite their only dance experience being the audience-free boogying they do in front of the mirror while getting ready in the morning! Then I took advantage of being president of Dance Haven, CUMC’s dance club, and got some members to participate in the flashmob and help teach non-dancers about our mutual true love: Dance.

Teaching my classmates to put a ring on it like Beyonce, dance with somebody who loves them like Whitney Houston, and put their hands up like Miley Cyrus, was a complete blast. And it was a great excuse to take a break from long hours of studying our muscles, bones, and joints to use our muscles, bones, and joints!

As performance day approached, us flashmobbers were all nervous to bust a move on campus in front of anyone who may be passing by the corner of W168th and Broadway at 12:30 that day, including classmates eating lunch on the steps of the library, professors and medical professionals walking from building to building, the Green Market vendors selling their fresh vegetables, and the gyro man, just to name a few. But we were doing this for fun, not to prove a point or show off our skills, so we took a deep breath and hit the music.

The amazing thing is that people in Washington Heights don’t give a second thought to most of the sounds heard on your average day in Manhattan, and will walk right by ambulance sirens, chattering hobos, and the guy on the corner with giant headphones and really tight pants alternating between singing Mariah Carey songs and just singing her praises! However, when the sounds of Beyonce emitted from the speakers, people stopped. They stared. And they began to smile, tap their feet, and even pull out their phones to record what was happening. Here’s one bystander’s view:

My philosophy is that dancing should take place every day of the year, not just on National Dance Day. My adorable SmartSitting kids make a habit of dancing whenever we’re together, and it never fails to put a smile on my face, their little faces, or faces passing by. I teach them the grand jetes and developpes (leaps and kicks) that my dance training was based on, and they teach me how to pirouette (spin) until we’re all too dizzy to stay upright. And while sure, I pat myself on the back for teaching them an art form…they’re teaching me something even better: how to let loose, do what feels natural, and have a good ol’ dancing time without worrying about what anyone else may think. And now that I’ve shared this lesson that I’ve learned while being a SmartSitter, I encourage you to take it to heart. Next time you hear the sweet sounds of music floating through the air, take a minute to get up offa that thing and dance!

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