Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland
This week, following the warm-up, the aim is to set about setting the students a composition task. This follows several weeks of learning movement, to impart some basic vocabulary and ideas of rhythm, texture and space changes. These came through learning movement and some free-styling their own movement.
Dividing into smaller groups with the help of Ms. Keenan, the students were asked to create their own group composition, within a set of parameters. They had 4 sets of 8 beats, and to include 4 elements: a turn, a jump, a level change and some contact.
Most of the session was devoted to allowing each group to begin to find their own solution to this.
As the first group task, beyond the 4 set parameters, there were quite a number of possible choices and challenges in this task; whether to move in unison or complementary, sharing movement among one another, spacing to name a few. Working together is key, involving listening, respecting one another, being willing to initiate, being willing to follow. Part of the task is to include each member’s contribution. While the task is ostensibly one of making a small dance, the social tools required are as crucial as the creative ones.
Before finishing, each group was encouraged to consolidate their composition, and each group performed theirs for the others, in a kind of “showcase” of their compositions. While each group may have felt theirs could do with more polish, given that they were very new, each group gave their best shot.
One observation I made, was that the appreciation of one group for the next is really a key aspect to a live performing art. It’s not the same as watching a screen. There is a particular chemistry to performance that comes from the audience attending to and respecting what the performers are doing, and this has an effect on the performance. This appreciation matters to the quality of the performance. So this quality of attending to and appreciating one another’s performance is another aspect of dance that we can work to enhance.