On a recent perfect summer morning, the Mattapoisett Free Public Library hosted a children’s program like no other. Kay Alden presented a free program that included movement, math, science and fun, titled ‘The Science of Popcorn.’
Alden describes herself as a ‘life dancer.’ Her impressive credentials in dance and movement include earning in 1966 a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Bridgewater State College, being an exchange student from the Boston Conservatory traveling throughout Europe and Asia, and teaching positions at the Marion Art Center, Bristol Community College and Hayden McFadden School. She also sits on the alumni advisory board for the Boston Conservatory board of directors.
Her love of music, movement and dance blend to make Alden uniquely equipped in helping others grow stronger in their abilities to move with confidence. She said, “My philosophy is that by developing better motor skills through music and giving children a chance to learn movements helps to develop their confidence.” Through her approach, children not only build gross motor capabilities, but also cognitive and intellectual strengths. She focuses on children ranging in ages from 4 to 10.
For the July program, she used the song “Pop Goes the Weasel.” With this well-known tune scripted in five different tempos, Alden transported the children from the U.S. to England and Russia while leading the kids through mazes, balance exercises and simple movements. “I had three generations of dancers; it was wonderful,” she remarked. She discussed with the attendees the history of corn and the science behind popping it. Needless to say, eating it was part of the fun, too.
Alden offers only free programs, drawing on her many decades teaching and understanding the correlation between the body and the mind. While teaching at the Hayden McFadden School in New Bedford before her retirement, she estimates that nearly 2,000 young people passed through her dance club program. She is especially sensitive to children who may be more socially withdrawn. Her delight is in seeing the child that never gets picked by peers to participate in activities blossom into a child who is smiling and moving. It is all the reward this life-dancer needs. “I think movement should be natural, balanced and give a child the ability to move to the next level, building upon success,” she explained.
Beyond the movement aspect of Alden’s system, there is an educational component. Using props, music and a globe, kids learn about the music’s composer, their country of origin, the times in which they lived and the history of particular dance movements. This richly seasoned stew of cultural awareness and academics makes the dance and movement pieces more relevant, she believes.
I would say she has the three “Es” – excitement, enthusiasm, and energy – all good things when working with children.
Alden will meet with the library staff in September to discuss a program for the fall season. Go to www.mattapoisettlibrary.org to learn more about all the great events planned for the community and watch for Kay Alden’s program in the fall.
By Marilou Newell