From the outside, it looks like Anne Motl’s primary job is simply to encourage kids to have fun. During her creative movement classes, children might dance and sing to nursery rhymes or they might jump, leap, skip and crawl their way across the floor while laughing with their friends.
Motl says having fun is an important theme, but she’s after something much more significant—using creative movement to help children develop healthy patterns in their minds and bodies.
“Creative movement can mean many different things and take many forms,” Motl says. However, she uses her extensive dance background combined with the philosophy behind the BrainDance system, which was created by Seattle native Anne Green Gilbert, to organize a specific structure meant to stimulate young children.
Motl grew up in Minnesota and began dancing at the age of 5. At 18, she followed her passion to Bellingham, where she studied modern dance, before transferring to Cornish College of the Arts and graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in modern dance.
“I started teaching creative movement a year after I graduated, and I worked with all ages from that point on,” Motl says. Building upon the knowledge she gained from her degree, Motl began incorporating philosophies from BrainDance.
“Anne Green Gilbert is from Seattle, and she created the BrainDance program based off eight developmental stages healthy human beings naturally move through in their first year of life. The movements start with the breath then you work on tactile, core-distal, head-tail, upper and lower body, side body, cross lateral and vestibular movement patterns. Eye tracking is also incorporated,” Motl explains. “Nursery rhymes help with language development as well. I’m big into language and talking with the kids.”
While all of this might sound a bit technical, Motl says it’s really just about encouraging certain kinds of movement that are known to help develop coordination, proprioception, rhythm and an overall confidence in their connection to their bodies. And then letting the kids take it and run.
“It’s all about being open and free. Coming from a classical ballet background, I never had creative movement as a child. But I realized kids don’t have to keep their heels together and stand perfect when they’re four or three. I always say to the kids, ‘You’re beautiful. You’re doing it. And they’re having so much fun.’”
Motl also offer classes in which caregivers can participate. She says this time together can create a beautiful bonding experience. “There’s a lot of cuddle time, a lot of good eye contact and time to speak with your child.”
For a complete list of Anne Motl’s classes, please turn to page 008 in the Youth Newsletter in this issue.