Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland
We started the first of 12 dance sessions at Carysfort National School, a new experience for most of Ms. Barry’s expectant 3rd class boys and girls. On introduction, we discussed rhythm (time) texture (the feeling of movement) and space (where dance takes place), and how every movement can be described according to these three basic aspects of the language of dance. We also introduced “non-verbal” – referring to the aspects of communication that are other than the words we use; e.g. facial expression, gestures, body language and voice intonation. Dance, being largely a non-verbal activity draws on the human capacity to create and communicate non-verbally.
We started with a warm-up, emphasizing breathing, rhythm and movement patterns, building from the simple “2-step”, adding legs and arms gestures and a bit of improv before ending with a big “ta-da” shape….and then we did it with music!
A few stretches followed the warm-up, including simple swings, a moment of balancing on one leg, and yoga-esque stretches. Then, to introduce learning/building a dance, we started a short dance routine to Will Smith’s “La Fiesta”. This has elements that the group does in unison, moments that utilise voice, and changes of rhythm and texture. The intro and bridge have improvised or “free-style” moments, both their own dance moves and making quick, sharp shapes, and some simple steps that begin building the movement vocabulary.
We also did “traveling steps” across the room, in groups of four which also included improvisational elements. Starting with walking “on the beat”, in their own style, each student had the chance to do their own walk, resulting in great diversity and fun. We then skipped, and each student improvised their own upper body gestures while keeping the beat and traveling across the room skipping. Spatial directions “high and low” and “changing facing” added to the menu of task ingredients that they could include in their skipping improv.
We resume the ongoing workshops in February, and look forward to seeing each other on a regular basis then.