Our Lady’s Girls N. S. – Review of our work so far

I began our first lesson by introducing myself to the girls and asking them to tell me a little bit about themselves and their experience of dance – have they ever taken any classes? Seen any live performances? Watched it on T.V.? There were a wide variety of responses – from girls who had taken several different dance classes to ones that didn’t ‘do dance’. I did notice, however, that once we began moving the class as a whole were very focused and engaged. I noticed a general openness to giving things a go physically, even though they may have said otherwise verbally. I of course was delighted with this as I realised I could challenge them a little more than I originally thought.

As we have only short sessions this term I have decided to focus on giving the girls a grounding in some contemporary technique and ideas. They can later use these tools in our longer sessions as a foundation for creating their own movement.

Most classes have begun with some form of game:

– Walking the space and following instructions as I tell them to either jump, go to the ground, stop or walk backwards. I ask them each time to fill the space leaving as few gaps as possible. The aim of this exercise being to build awareness about their surroundings and follow instructions whilst moving the space.

– Another game we have played in this time is one where the class is split into 4 different groups and each group is given a movement task – melt, jump, spin, stop. Using the beats in the music each group has to perform their movement on the beat they’ve been allocated, and then walk the space for the remaining beats until theirs comes round again. I find this a very effective away to introduce musical awareness, listening skills and concentration. It was also really good fun with this class and visually looks very interesting.

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I go through a short warm up of different parts of the body, incorporating stretches, exercises for alignment, core strength and balance.

We have been working on developing a short sequence of movement which we build on every few weeks depending on what new technique or movement idea we work on in that class. The last time we visited this sequence we incorporated floor movement. It was something the girls found challenging but they asked questions and kept trying. I got the sense that they really wanted to understand how to do it. By the end of the session everyone was definitely getting a lot more comfortable with being on the floor and using the weight of the body to build momentum. We will come back to this in a later session and experiment with ways to get back up from the floor again using our weight and speed to build up momentum.

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