Finally I’ve dropped my camouflage! The naked truth is that we are dancing on Campus for the sake of dancing only. No more, no less. It’s not about learning English communication skills through dancing, it’s not about practicing team skills by means of improvisation, nor is it about conquering the splendid Campus space. No, it’s just dancing. That’s all it is. And that’s everything!
Coming to this realization, everything is suddenly going so smoothly. At the beginning of this spring semester we have had the Tiloja Avaruuksia/ Species of Spaces workshop for students both in the Finnish degree program in tourism (POMO) as well as in the international business program (POBBA). Notably, in both groups the student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. How did we reach this point where everybody is able to enjoy dancing together? I claim that this is due to me dropping all labels and explanations. The body discovers the benefits of dancing by just doing it. You don’t need lengthy lectures on the topic. Yes, in POBBA I briefly told the international students that we are “exploring the body of a business professional”. That simply stands for good posture and this can for instance be practiced by dancing a Renaissance Pavane as we did in the Campus lobby. You could see the students grow by two inches and they could all feel the good posture in their own body. Power Posing, a concept introduced by Harvard Business School Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy, has a similar effect (see my previous blog Wonder Woman Week). Additional exercises included introducing yourself by name and movement, various “follow the leader” exercises both in pairs and as a big group. This again resulted in lots of running and laughing in the lobby, afterwards we were all out of breath and very embodied! As a contrast to these high impact physical exercises, the group was then brought together to dance the powerful opening sequence from Alvin Ailey’s ballet Revelations. Once again, it was amazing to realize how students can focus and concentrate – it is like breathing together in unison. A truly collective experience!
And what did the students think of all of this? Here are a few quotes to sum up the general atmosphere of the Species of Spaces workshop:
“ It was very interesting and exciting. I rested and had fun, felt my body. We worked as a team and learned to trust each other.”
“The workshop was useful. We get to know each other more. It was also interesting and relaxing.”
“I really enjoyed today’s exercises because it helped to break the ice between us.”
“This class was full of positive emotions and feelings.”
“I think that this particular workshop was similar to “trust lessons” that are a popular way of team building in big corporations.”
“At the beginning of the lesson I thought that it is waste of my time. But it was a mistake because I am so excited after this one.”
“I would love to have that lesson every week.”
“Thank you Haaga-Helia and the teacher for this perfect and amazing lesson.”
Looking at the reflections, it is apparent that dance teaches skills necessary in business life. Or more precisely, it actually does not teach anything but rather brings out hidden strengths and qualities that all students carry in their body and mind. Furthermore, in order to be a functional study group, students need to break the ice and feel comfortable with one another. Even more so, as Porvoo Campus curriculum is project-based, there has to be lots of trust and respect among students. So, once and for all, let’s keep dancing just for the sake of dancing!