Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland
Meeting for the second session, we re-visited the elements of the warm-up we did in December; starting with breathing, two-stepping, getting the arms legs moving in sync with music, and raising the body temperature in the process. Our “scales”, the routine preparatory exercises, include several dance elements, and then we gently stretch to a quieter, slower piece. This includes a swing, moments of balancing on one leg and yoga-esque stretches, lunge and downward dog.
Following this we engaged with a “space game” based on the alphabet of the students’ names. Thus – when a letter is called, those whose names start with that letter move as quickly as possible in, around, through the spaces between other students who were spread out and standing still. Focus on the open spaces; avoid bumping other movers; be ready for quick changes of direction; precision in your own pathway, with a skipping step. As the number of those moving increased, the more diligence to open spaces and reflexive changes of direction were required.
We did a quick recall of what the students remembered from session one, what stood out for them. This led us to review of “La Fiesta”. Amazingly, much of the dance was remembered…even though nearly two months had passed. We went on to add the next part of the “La Fiesta” dance. Skipping for 8 beats, (everyone at once going anywhere in the room, hence the “space game” earlier) 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, finding their way back to their original place. 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, 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.
We also spent more time on moving / traveling 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.