Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland
For the third session, I was joined by Joan Donnelly, a theatre practitioner on the artist panel who is one of 3 assistants on the project. As such she is able to “roam” amongst the projects, observing and assisting.
Before we start moving, we make sure everyone has as much space as possible, that each one has space around their “kinesphere” (big new word!), and their kinesphere is not overlapping anyone else’s. This word describes the 360o three dimensional space that each moving body occupies. The notion of kinesphere was created by Rudolf Laban to define: “the sphere around the body whose periphery can be reached by easily extended limbs without stepping away from that place which is the point of support when standing on one foot” (1966, p.10). A broader discussion of Kinesphere is here>> https://thespaceintherelationship.wordpress.com/kinesphere/
We then start 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. These repeated elements build a simple movement vocabulary, and when remembering “what is next” is more a muscle memory, there’s a potential for deeper experience of the movement itself.
The students’ liked the music track that followed, and it presented an opening to introduce a couple new steps…the “skate” in two rhythms, and simple forward kick. The symbol for infinity, a horizontal figure 8 became a useful image for describing the twisting movement of the hips, with the hands moving opposite to each other as though connected by elastic…words on a page don’t do it justice.
Following this we engaged with the “space game” a second time…today based on the colours of the students’ runners. Thus – when a colour is called, those whose shoes have that colour (and most had more than one colour) 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 many different kinds of steps. Those who were being still were challenged to make poses at a low level, with “active shapes”…for expample supporting themselves on two hands and 1 foot, rather than a “resting” shape such as sitting or lying. And to try to absolutely focus every part of the body on being still, in that active shape.
We quickly reviewed “La Fiesta”, including the Skipping for 8 beats, finding a partner and performing the shake hands, bump hips, join elbow and skip round – then skip again for 8, finding their way back to their original place. Today, we added a “hand jive” series of movement, normally done in pairs. Since the number of students is a multiple of 3, we decided to go with trios, but this required some adaptations. Thankfully with Ms. Barry and Joan, we were able to demonstrate the movements as a trio and then each of us were able to circulate to help each group master the movements, which required hand/eye coordination, timing, synchronicity and a good deal of focus.
By the time we put all of that together with what they already knew, it was nearly time to finish. So I asked the students what stood out to them so far in the three sessions. A few students shared their thoughts:
They liked learning new steps, they like working in pairs, and dancing with the music.
They liked repeating some things but then doing something new.
They enjoyed the “space” game and learning the hand movements.