Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland
For the third session, we re-visited the previous lesson with a quick recall of what the students remembered, what stood out for them. Then we did our “scales”, including a general warm-up and a stretch.
This led us to the next part of the “La Fiesta” dance. Skipping for 8 beats, (everyone at once going anywhere in the room) finding a partner and performing a series of hand contact and body movements in rhythm together – shake hands, bump hips, join elbow and skip round – then skip again for 8, find a new partner and perform a “hand jive” of claps, slaps, turns and a jump high 10. Can you get through the room where everyone is also moving without colliding; find the same partner in the same place at the right time? and all pairs do the shake shake, bump bump, clap, slap rhythm in time together? Yes! (with practice)
Then at the start of the song there is listening and silence…sensing rhythm though there isn’t a beat to hear. Can you time a stunning jump in the silence to land in a dynamic shape exactly when the beat first hits? Yes! (with practice). Then dance in your own way for 3 measures of 8 and then start the set choreography in unison. With this we combined the set phrase, with the skipping and hand contact phrase, and sections of free improv, putting “La Fiesta” all together. “La Fiesta” is a dance journey in space, rhythm and texture which these students embrace in full measure.
The fourth session we engaged with a warm-up and stretch, followed by a “space game” based on colours of the students shoes (since they wear uniforms) – when a colour is called, those wearing that colour move as quickly as possible in, around, through the spaces between other students who were standing still. Focus on the open spaces; avoid bumping other movers; be ready for quick changes of direction; precision in your own pathway, changing types of steps. As the number of those moving increased, (yellow and green, not so many, pink, blue, black and white quite a few) the more diligence to open spaces and reflexive changes of direction were required.
We also spent more time on moving / travelling across the floor, improvising their own way to various prompts; walking on the beat in their own way, skipping and trying many different arm movements (challenging different parts of the body to move in independent rhythms), also then taking turns copying a partner. All different invitations to be creatively steeped in seeing, interpreting, responding in movement to a variety of stimuli…not least of which is music.
Music plays an important part in dance, gives impetus, rhythm and texture to the movement, and supports the atmosphere or mood. What makes a piece of music appeal to the dancer? To know what music appeals to these students, I asked them for their suggestions for music to use, and Ms. Keenan would collect them and send a selection to me…likely I’m going to hear something new!