The METNS 6th Class Sixth Session – Landscape and Growing Trees

dlr Primary Arts Blog, 6th Session 9th May 2014
Monkstown Educate Together NS 6th Class
Artists: Robert Connor & Loretta Yurick, Dance Theatre of Ireland

Being Friday, spirits were high; and even more so as the 6th Class students are going to the Gaeltacht next week. So today we concentrated on refreshing some dances from previous sessions, experimenting with a movement landscape and new material based on trees.

Now that the warm-up routines are known better by the students, we danced our way through these without breaking it down as we did at the start. This means that the “dance” value of these is enhanced and we get warmer quicker. It also means that right at the start, the students get the feeling of moving together as group, as other parts of the lessons focus on individual expression. We revisited the “crab dance”, a dance that takes place close to the floor, moving and travelling in different ways at a low level and striking individual poses.

We tried making a movement landscape. Half the students created shapes at floor level, with the premise of moving and holding shapes that would evoke images of twisted ivy, tangled vines, thorny branches. The other half were to move through this “landscape” in an animalistic way; as wary prey, stalking predators, birds, etc. This was an “open” improve, which we repeated a few times and swapped roles. Each time we repeated the exercise it was to hone the movement responses to create a more believable “landscape” impression.

We reviewed the “tree cutting” phrase of last week, and went on to impart a sequence that embodies the fragility of trees, evoking the first budding and growth in a slow, sustained quality of movement that is a contrast to the percussive, rhythmic style of dance of the “tree cutting” phrase. This is more challenging in some ways, as the movement is more subtle and the timing is “felt” rather than being tied to a beat. We also created a new sequence that involved the quality of collapsing or breaking, a stop-action way of moving isolated body parts, taking 12 movements to go from standing to low level, then, making 4 “craggy and dangerous” shapes and followed by sustained growing up to full standing in 16 beats.

We left the students with a task that anyone can try. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Start with your hand fully open, and over the course of 2 minutes, sustain the movement of closing your hand fully into a fist, only finishing at the 2 minute mark. Have someone else keep the time so you aren’t watching the clock and can focus on the sensation of moving sooooooooo  s   l   o   w   l   y.  Then try the reverse, from fist to open.

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