by Barb Tilsen, May 2020

You can hear my musical poem “Dancing Spring” here.

I love exploring how the evocative combination of poetry and song can inspire creative movement. My poem “Dancing Spring” evolved over the years each spring in my Sound Beginnings children’s music classes. I originally named it “Plants, Sun, Rain.” The words changed over time, but the sun, the rain and the seeds always had their own unique musical place in the poem. In the 1990’s I dubbed excerpts of several of my favorite Inti-Illimani songs from their “Leyenda” recording on a cassette tape to play for each section of the poem. Their vivid expressive music was so fun for the children to dance to—“Preludio y Festejo” for the sun, “Tarantella” for the rain, and “Sensemaya” for the seeds growing and “La Fiesta de la Tirana” for the joyous flowers blooming. When I recorded my “Take the Seed” recording in 2015, I got in touch with Inti-Illimani when they came to Minneapolis to perform that year. In the 1970’s and 80’s I had been part of the Victor Jara Memorial Fund and the Minnesota Committee for New Song bringing them to perform in concert in Minnesota in those years. It was wonderful to hear them again. I wanted to see if I could arrange permission to record these song excerpts for my poem. Though the member I spoke with was very supportive, the old group had split up some years before and it wasn’t possible to reach everyone who needed to give me permission. Serendipitously, Scott Malchow was working with me to arrange and produce my “Take the Seed” recording. We put our heads together about what I wanted musically for this poem. He did such a beautiful job writing and playing the music for it. I really love what he came up with, and am so grateful for his gifted expertise on my recordings.

So, to celebrate the little blooming flowers of spring dancing in our midst, divide the children into three groups – the seeds, the sun, and the rain.  The seed group begins in the center crouched on the floor with heads down, hands and feet tucked under. First the sun group, then the rain group, dance around the seeds in turn as their music plays. Then the seeds have their turn to move, grow and then dance with the blooming spring music. I usually invite everyone to come dance The Flower Dance together at the end!

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