Interview: Miss Melodee
Tue, 19 Feb 2013 14:25:42
"A little dancer is trying on some ballet shoes right now," laughs Miss Melodee. "The day is off to a great start."
Every day at Miss Melodee's dance studio has its fair share of magic. The instructor, dancer, singer, and artist teaches classes for a wide range of students from 18 months to 18-years-old. She's got her own inimitable style that fuses dance, music, and performance into an enriching experience for youngsters. For her, it's about "Finding your melody" and running with it. She certainly has, and she inspires at every turn. Her debut album, Dancing With Miss Melodee, is the perfect collection of children's music, and now she's readying its follow-up for release later this year.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Miss Melodee talks about dance, teaching, music, exercise, and so much more.
You bring together music, dance, exercise, and art for children. What's your take on what you do? Do all of these different elements intersect within music and dance?
Yes! I think it's a great question. Music is a universal language of course. My motto is, "Come find your melody. Be anything you want to be". I think there are so many things in our world working against children and keeping them from exploring who they are and who they could be, using their imaginations, and really being free to dream. Music and the arts—creative and performing—together allow children to explore that and have that freedom to let go in a safe and a supportive environment. Whether they're wiggling, dancing, singing, or being in a classroom setting together with friends, they can come out of their shells. It doesn't matter who they are or where they come from. It allows them to feel safe, let go, and be anything they want to be.
Absolutely, being active is so crucial as well. We're stuck behind computers, iPhones, and iPads. Instilling this element of movement is crucial.
It's so important. It's known that kids should get at least an hour of exercise every day. Sometimes, it's hard for them to do, especially if the weather isn't so great outside or if mom and dad are very busy. Like what you said, kids know the way around an iPad or phone better than most of us adults do. At some points, it's pretty amazing. They get excited about doing all that, but it keeps them from using their imaginations and getting out there and being active. Putting it all together is very important. Mary Poppins said, "In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and, snap, the job's a game!" That line rings true forever. If kids are having fun, they forget that they're learning or exercising. If you mix that fun and make it a game, they let go and get their exercise in.
How important is it to open the doorway to music or dance for kids? How often do kids find their life path, so to speak?
There are some kids that will start talking about how the love performing at an early age. Sometimes, it's even unspoken, you can tell. They don't necessarily say, "I want to be on stage and do this forever", but they want to put on a show every chance they can. Here's my favorite example. There are some kids who come in and are very shy. They never wanted to be a part of a class setting or do an activity. It's a wonderful feeling when a mom says, "My child heard one of your songs online and wants to try a class". I have several kids who started to come out of their shells because they're in a class setting or they watched a video online. It takes them to an imaginative place. They break free from that feeling of inhibition or nervousness, which is so important. It's truly magical. I don't know how to explain it. I love when kids can feel comfortable and confident.
Are you planning a new album yet?
We are! My plan is to have the second album done by the end of the summer and hopefully release it this fall. We're working on it now, and we hope to release a single in late spring to get some excitement going. I want to introduce the "shoe characters" more this time around. They'll be a bit more vocal on the tracks. A lot of the music will cater to the styles of the shoes. "Breaker" will have some upbeat hip hop-style songs like "The Stretching Song" from my first album, which was really popular with the kids. The same goes for "Demi". There will be some ballet songs, and tap songs for "Click". I'm even hoping to incorporate musical theater-style for "Dramadee" too.
Does the build on the first album Dancing with Miss Melodee? Or, are you approaching it differently?
It's exciting and scary going into the second one. We're going to try some new things, but keep some of it the same! It's a great feeling writing a song. You wonder, "Is anything going to happen?" Then, a song is birthed. It's the most exciting thing for me.
What's the structure of your classes like?
We start at as young as 18 months. Sometimes, we'll start younger. It just depends on how well the baby is walking. We go all the way up to teen. In our wheelhouse, which is three- to-five, we start out stretching on the floor and we play some imaginative games where we fly to Disneyland or to the beach and go on a boat ride. They do your basic stretches, but they go on an adventure. When they get up on their feet, they use a lot of props like scarves, pom-poms, and instruments to help engage them. We use my music and a lot of other awesome children's artists.
Who's on your playlist?
When I'm here at the studio during the day, I'll admit I get into all of the kid's music [Laughs]. Then, when I have time to myself, my favorite band in the entire world is U2. I love them forever! Then, there's Coldplay. It's across the board for me. I love all kinds of music.
Have you heard Miss Melodee?
Check out her YouTube and official site!