Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland
It seems today the students have been sitting standardised exams…timed test requiring extra concentration, sitting still, and filling in small boxes of multiple answer questions…in short they are ready to move! So without delay we launch into “How Deep is Your Love” warm-up, the repetition of familiar movements give them an easy avenue to slip into the more physical focus of dancing. This we follow with their favourite, “Whip Whip Nae Nae”.
The song has a lyric “watch me”, and in the dance, this is an improvised moment, each person breaks from unison to do their individual dance. To reinforce and give another structure to exploring improvisation, we change into a circle formation, and switch music to “It’s Like That”. In this set-up, students can improvise in the centre, taking turns, with up to 4 in the centre at once. Whereas in the Run DMC vs Jason Nevins video there are two groups battling against each other in dance, this exercise is not set up as a battle, but an open invitation to “watch me” and try on an element of performing for others.
From here we go to smaller groups, and keep the idea of improvisation. Each group can decide the formation of the group, the order of free-styling, what the others do
Within each group each student had a turn to do their own dance, while the other three found their own way of supporting and staying involved in the dance. In other words, each got a “go”, in an order decided by the group, and they sequenced how the three responded/supported/interacted with the soloist…and then changed places so that each got a turn to be a soloist. The room exploded with ideas and movement as each in turn had a chance to put their best moves forward, while the supporting trios also responded in a myriad of ways.
Once they had been working in their groups for a time, and devised their improv structure, we took time for each group to show their dance. We added this on as part of the Run DMC dance, structured so that half the groups did their group work at one time, while the others struck a pose to watch, and then switch.
This dance combined the “robot” multi-textured, multi-directional movement, floor shapes and free-styling in groups.