In Lola's Lab, confidence is something we help children build over time and though our special atmosphere of fantasy. Risks are easy to take in a world of fantasy. It's fun to believe and pretend! It's much easier than when you are in the real world with real consequences. Confidence actually takes a long time to learn. Confidence is self-awareness. Young children don't yet have much life experience, that's why they are sensitive. And that's why it's so important for them to learn in a special supportive environment. And it's important for me, as the creator of Lola's Lab, to stay in touch with what it's like to be a participant in a new experience.
I got a great reminder of this when just last weekend, I "dropped in" on some dance classes with the Alvin Ailey Dance Extension in NYC.
I love to dance and have been taking many forms of dance as a hobby for years. I've danced, Bollywood, salsa, hip hop, modern and more, but I'll be honest with you, I think I was the oldest and worst dancer in my NYC class! I have proof. One of my classmates was a famous contestant on Season 9 of "So You Think You Can Dance!"
It was quite obvious I was not even close to the physical shape that my classmates were in. I didn't know the routine AT ALL so I was really challenging myself to keep up with the group as they flew across the room, emoting, rolling, reaching and extending arms, necks and legs. The teacher, who also teaches at the Joffrey Ballet, (OMG) reminded me to at least hit the most significant moves, which required me to skip quite a few moves in between moments when I couldn't keep up, just to land on my 47 year old knees at the same time as the rest of the dancers. After an hour and a half, I was really exhausted and overwhelmed. My knees were bruised. My legs ached. I almost felt ready to cry.
So I took a second to recognize my emotions. In a split second I was back on track. After all, this was my moment! This was all in my power. I came all the way to NYC to learn from the best in one of the the best schools for dance. My every effort (no matter how awkward) was something to be incredibly proud of. I smiled and danced through to the end, knowing I could handle it because I am an adult whose been in training for this quite a long time. I have been learning to take risks in the arts since childhood. I was prepared and knew how much I could handle.
When you are a child though, the landing should be soft. And awesomely fun! I created Lola's Lab as that place where kids could have fun making art, pretending, brainstorming, moving and making. Our immersive story scenarios that give kids practice by immersing them in a hilarious fantasy world. These skills are learned best among friends in a supportive atmosphere, where risk is safe and the story is packed with giggles and challenges that everyone enjoys collaborating on! Over time, I see our children building skills, self-knowledge and confidence. It's a very special privilege to see how they grow and stand tall and participate fearlessly. There is no limit to what these children will do as creators and captains of their imaginations and dreams.