Summer is a time when you see people walk around in bare feet. Usually I only see this in a creative movement or modern dance classes. People can be very shy about their feet. We tend to see feet as a mode of transportation instead of a body part. We hide our feet in shoes, boots or sneakers. But in summertime out come the feet. Sandals, flip flops, and yes, sometimes bare naked. Around Memorial day I heard a lot of my friends proclaiming they needed pedicures because summer was coming. I found this comment so strange because I don’t feel feet need to be dressed up to be shown in public.
Most kids love to pull off their shoes and socks the moment they get a chance. Whenever I ask my daughter to take off her shoes, her shoes come off and then her socks fly off in two different directions. I can’t keep track of her socks because I can’t keep them on her feet. At some point, maybe in the teenage years when feet start to sweat or smell, people become shy or even disgusted by feet. Now is the time to explore our glorious feet because they are not hidden away in some formidable boots.
Ask your students to tell you about feet. How do they feel about them? What good are they? Then have your class walk around barefoot with their eyes closed. Set up a foot obstacle course. Put out a rug, bubble wrap, Styrofoam balls, and foam (anything that is safe to walk on that would provide an interesting texture.) You can have them lead each other if you feel your students need extra stability.
Ask them about their experience. Did they discover anything new about their feet? Do they think of their feet differently now? Ask them to be aware about the information their feet are giving them when they walk barefoot on the grass, pavement, beach or hardwood floors.
As a dancer, I had a hard time finding shoes that were comfortable. I am talking about ballet and jazz shoes as well as sneakers and flats. You name it I hated it. I wanted to feel the floor. If you are a dancer or if you teach dancers that wear shoes then this exercise is especially important for you or your students to gain new information from your feet.
Feet are not just what the body balances on. They are designed to give us loads of information about our surroundings regarding the texture, temperature and safety. They have lots of information to give us about the world we live in – if we would just take them out more to feel the roses!
BIO: Contributor Stacey Pepper Schwartz received her BFA in dance performance at Montclair State University and her MA in dance education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has taught as an artist in residency and guest artist in public and private schools for over twelve years.
Stacey is the Founder and Director of Leaping Legs Creative Movement Programs. The focus of Leaping Legs Creative Movement Programs is to help people regardless of age, experience or ability, become educated about their movement potential, develop kinesthetic awareness, and become more physically fit and healthy together as a family, and community.
Leaping Legs promotes its goal through the original Up Down & All Around DVD. The DVD received Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Children’s Products Award and 10 Best Active Products Award. The DVD has also been featured in many magazines including Dance Retailer News, The National Dance Teachers Association dance journal dancematters, and Dance Teacher.
Before embarking on dance education, Stacey was a professional dancer and choreographer in New York City.