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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Local Dancer Publishes First Children’s Picture Book

By Cathy Hollander

Hyde Park resident Connie Bergstein Dow just published her first children’s picture book. A life-long dancer, Dow put her years of experience dancing and teaching children into From A to Z with Energy! 26 Ways to Move and Play, an illustrated alphabet book.

Two of Connie’s grandchildren reading A to Z 
The idea for the book came from her teaching and seeing the benefit of movement for children. She enjoys using her new book while playing with her grandchildren and niece. who are ages 6 to one years old. 

“Teaching children for so many years and having them invite me into their world of imagination makes me feel so honored,” said Dow. 

Author Connie Dow of Hyde Park
She began dance classes at age 4 and found it helped her learn body awareness and how to move through space. She went to Denison University, where she graduated as their first dance major. She’s been teaching children age 3 to 6, her favorite age group, since she graduated from the University of Michigan with a master’s degree in dance. She danced professionally for 12 years in the US, Guatemala and Venezuela.

To share her ideas with teachers, she wrote two books introducing them to ideas about how to use movement and dance in their classes. While writing these books, she began to incorporate verses and stories for children to dance to. That led to her considering the idea of a children’s picture book about movement.

Connie Dow with a flash mob at Dennison University 
“Dance is often one of the first group activities that children can do,” said Dow. “They learn how to work with a group, spatial awareness, how to start and stop, what direction they’re going and how to follow verbal instructions and take turns.”

She presents ideas to children and lets them take their movement in whatever direction they want. There’s no right or wrong answer in creative movement. In addition, it’s great exercise. As they gallop, hop, leap and crawl, they learn gross motor skills. 

Her desire to pursue a children’s picture book grew, so Dow wanted to educate herself about the craft of writing children’s books. She attended workshops to learn the rules and format. She was already writing verses that are published in Highlights for Children magazines, so she signed up for one of their workshops.

Teaching a class of younger students
She thinks Free Spirit Publishing liked and published her book because she connected dance with emotional and social learning. 

Dow participates in leading and teaching adults in dance as well. She has created and led several flash mob dances, where a group of people suddenly assemble and begin dancing, more join the dance, perform and then fade back into the crowd. She helped organize people to participate in this fun and creative art form on Fountain Square downtown and then at the Cincinnati Zoo on the first evening of the Festival of Lights, on the quad at Denison University and at the Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children. She also teaches flash mob dances to children. As a part of the Education Committee for the Board of the Cincinnati Ballet, Dow helped with a flash mob with third graders in Washington Park. 

“Community dance events are near and dear to my heart,” said Dow.

Harbinger Dance Company choreography to “Circular Songs”
She assisted Fanchon Shur, who choreographed and led Global Water Dances. to entertain at the end of Paddlefest in 2013 and 2015.

Dow’s most recent volunteer effort for the last four years has been with the Off the Streets Program at the Anna Louise Inn. This program helps women who have been exploited or victims of sex trafficking with all the social problems that comes with that experience such as drug and alcohol addiction. 

“It’s a very uplifting experience,” said Dow. “We are currently working on a flash mob dance for the women to do at their next graduation ceremony.”

From A to Z with Energy! 26 Ways to Move and Play begins, “Time to play and have some fun, trying new things one by one,” and then takes the reader through a wealth of activities. At the end, Dow has created a guide about movement for parents, teachers, and caregivers.

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