Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland
Each session starts with a brief discussion of what we will do in the session. Roughly two halves, with a break in between (the regular morning small break) will focus on different elements. The first half will be more learned movement, focusing on technique, movement vocabulary and working mostly individually within the group. The second half includes more improvisation, moving in their own way to movement ideas, sometimes with others, and building into composition of their own making.
Before we start moving, we make sure everyone has as much space as possible, that each one has space around their “kinesphere”, 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-steps, 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 stretch to a quieter, slower piece. This includes gentle circles of the shoulders, elbows, arms and parallel swings, moments of balancing on one leg and deep stretches. The word “parallel” offers a chance to imagine moving forward, next to another, into infinity, and never meeting. 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 track that followed, “Sorry” by Justin Beiber, presents an opening to introduce a couple new steps…the “skate” in two rhythms, and simple forward kick-step-change. 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. Adding several ripples in the upper body and arms, gives a change in texture and timing. This short sequence is followed by everyone leaving their place to skip around and through each other throughout the space for 32 beats, to be back in their place in time to repeat the phrase.
One of the structures for improvisation is moving from one end of the hall to the other, “traveling” individually in groups of four. Starting with walking “on the beat”, in their own style, each student has the chance to do their own walk, resulting in great diversity and fun. We then skip, and each student improvising their own upper body gestures while keeping the beat and traveling across the room. Spatial directions “high and low” and “changing facing” added to the menu of task ingredients that they could include in their skipping improve. Finally, in pairs, they improvise with a partner, changing places or weaving around each other as they skip across the room.