dlr Primary Arts, 5th Class Scoil Cholmcille, Ballybrack 5th Dance Session, 9 March – Watch Me! and Call & Response!

Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland

It comes as no surprise that music is a great influence when it comes to dance.  I had asked the students to offer their suggestions for music that they would like to dance to, as they had asked a few times whether I had certain songs.   While I might love some old favourites in the Pop and world music genres, as they work well for tempo rhythm and clean lyrics, it’s great to get an injection of newer sounds.  So Ms. Keenan collected the suggested tracks, and together with the class, edited the list to a few.  “How Deeps is Your Love”, Calvin Harris, “Watch Me Nae Nae”, Silento, and “Sorry” Justin Beiber made the shortlist.

So this week the warm-up sound track changed to “How Deep is Your Love” and with a familiar tune, there was bigger energy input to the movement.  We had a go at “Watch Me”, which comes fully kitted with a dance routine that everyone (but me) knows and we unapologetically improvised to Beiber.

Interestingly, when we danced “Watch Me”, even though there are moves that come with the song, there were differing ideas amongst the students as to what those moves are and how they are performed…this opened a discussion about interpretation, individual styling of moves and interpreting movement from video.

And it sent me looking afterwards to youtube!  It’s a catchy track if you haven’t heard it, but you probably have, since it’s nearly as popular as “Gangnam Style”.

It’s one thing to do popular moves to popular music…they are already affirmed in mass culture.   It’s a great way to get everyone engaged and dancing.  I’m also trying different structures for each student to explore and value their own movement, and to pick up and value each others’ movement.

Call and response is a group technique we use in body percussion, whereby one person proposes a rhythm and the others copy/repeat the rhythm.  Standing in a circle, each student took a turn at making a stomping, clapping rhythm, and everyone else tried to copy.  It trains the ear as well as the eye for picking up quickly, as well as staying in sync with each other.

This also prepared for a similar game, Signature Moves, which works in the same structure, with each person making an individual movement, and then everyone copying them after.  We kept “Sorry” in the background to give a 4 beat tune.  Everyone had a couple turns as we went around the circle.  Some proposed quite energetic moves, while others were shy and declined to have a turn.  In this game there’s room for both choices; there’s always an invitation to try…and try again.

Which we’ll do in other way in weeks to come.

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