Margy Grosswendt uses the Octaband with children to build a sense of connection and joy.
Margy Grosswendt is a truly inspiring woman, one of those wonderful human beings who reach a point in their lives when they want to give back. A realtor in Oahu, Hawaii with a wonderful life and family, she recognizes she has much to be grateful for. The way Margy has chosen to do this is by volunteering to teach dance for a month each year at Dom Bjelave orphanage in Sarajevo, Bosnia since 2012.
Margy describes her background:
I am not a professional dancer, a professional dance teacher, nor a licensed dance therapist. I am an American businesswoman who has had the distinct privilege of studying dance and various exercise modalities for over forty years. My end goal is to offer this mind and body movement work, the practice of which is therapeutic, to these children so that it can help them now and throughout their lives.
After her first time at Dom Bjelave in November, 2012, Margy returned to Hawaii where she continued her studies in dance, including BrainDance, music, including Music Together, and somatic modalities, such as the Franklin Method, so that she has more resources to bring to the children. She began collecting equipment, song lists, and instruments, including the Octaband® of course.
From the very beginning, Margy said the Director emphasized the children’s need to connect. Margy uses music and the Octaband® to help children of all ages connect.
This year, Margy had a special FB page where she shared photos and stories with considerable detail of her wonderful work, both individually and in groups. She was aided in this work by her project partner, Dzevad Tarakcija, who assists in translating as well as improvising with Margy and the children.
Margy describes one class with girls:
This class with my singing girls was incredible. After a rousing “Hello” song where we sang hello to groups of kids, each by name, we turned to a combination of singing the songs these girls love with locomotor movements (gliding, jumping, walking, running, skipping), the Octaband®, and dance concepts of Direction, Level, Tempo, (In, Out, Up, Down, Fast, Slow). We sang one song after another, and the girls each took a turn at choreography. We would calm down with slow breathing singing “Su La Li” holding on to the Octaband® still.
Another description, this time of a class with 3 boys:
Using the Octaband®, a dance therapy tool that literally brings connection. There were a 16 y.o. who stopped by to show us his strong muscles from diligent workouts, a little 7-year old who spent his session running and jumping around the room w/ Dzevad, and my long time student, S., who loves the BrainDance and ballet barre exercises and did the autogenic training for the first time with me; he didn’t want to leave. The Octaband® brought us all together. Our music went from Brandenburg Concerto to Katy Perry.
From the photo, I think they were bouncing something like a Yoga Dot on top of the center.
Of these photos, Margy says, “Our 6th time at Dom Bjelave and this time was THE BEST ever. Connect, connect. What a morning. They were gliding, using the feet, and singing.
And a description of yet another class:
Monday morning at Bjelave. Felt like a bunch of wild animals! These kids need to move, jump, run, skip, and get their feelings out. There were calm and compliant moments in time. You will see these two boys. One focused, one not. But then both focused. In and out. They made up this linear obstacle course after first making one that was freeform. The girls – well, we sing the entire time we are moving, using the Octaband®, integrating the BrainDance. They came up with their own choreography using the Octaband® to Music Together song Me, You, We. It was impressive! But still there was this restless energy. Finally put on the Frozen song “Let It Go” and they each made up their own dance using their course and the scarves. We played the song 3 times.
In this photo below, they are warming up their feet as they sang Frere Jacques and used the Octaband®. Flex and point.
Margy also described using the Octaband® and the Music Together song “Me, You, We” with the across partners coming in and going out when the others came in. The song is so rhythmic. Live singing (no CD) and the Octaband® for movement and connection.
What does Margy do to prepare for this work?
I am walking everywhere to build strength, taking classes for more ideas. Choreographing jazz routines for the teenagers and praying my body holds together. I am now 58 years old staring down old age and retirement with another way to do it.
I want to give back. To people – women and children – who don’t have a fraction of the privilege and opportunity we have in America. Mine is a self-funded Peace Corps under the radar direct effort. I think of the older kids – now they have 9 weeks with me and daily class; they now know a lot. They can stretch before they go to bed at night. They can breathe deeply and relax each part of their body when they can’t sleep. They can do cat backs, tree pose, plie/releve, and basic turns. They have tools to deal with life in Bosnia just 18 years after war. The little ones: why, they’re just waking up to connection and creative play.
From the start, Margy has brought play, breathing, creative movement, jazz dance, yoga, and Pilates to children in orphanages. She is helping the children express and regulate their feelings, and feel comfort. And then? Resilience, empowerment, and joy.
Margy offers, “If your heart and mind are open, life brings you adventure. Volunteering makes me strong and happy; it fills me.