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Robert Abrams
Arts and Education

Dance in Unexpected Places: the backyard

by Robert Abrams
January 26, 2011
Are you looking for ways to get the next generation interested in dance? One place you may not have thought of is the backyard.

I have a two year old daughter, so I have now seen a lot of kids television programming. One show my daughter loves is The Backyardigans: five friends who share a common backyard get together to have make-believe adventures, followed by a snack.

The Backyardigans always features musical numbers with dancing. Each episode has a music and dance theme. I have seen Lindy Hop and Salsa, among others. Tonight's featured dance (and in this case, featured by name) was the Polka.

A lot of the dancing in the show can be characterized as synchronized, parallel shines. In tonight's episode ("Polka Palace Party"), there were also several sequences of fairly accurate partner dancing (Polka, of course).

The show has an underlying formula, but it avoids the mind-numbing predictability of some other kids shows. The inventiveness in each episode will draw you in. For instance, who knew blueberry pancakes could power a space ship?

The songs tend to be catchy, and the show is packed with them.

I would love to see the show's creators try to render "serious" dance in The Backyardigan's aesthetic. It would be very interesting to see how kids respond.

To see The Backyardigans for yourself, go to www.nickjr.com/the-backyardigans/.
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