Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland, Teacher: Elizabeth Breen
We start, as we do each session, with the warm-up and stretch. I re-emphasise that this part is particularly for each one of them individually to connect with their own physicality, their movement, breathing, technical coordination, their connection with the music, it’s rhythm and texture, their awareness of the space around them, the feeling of dancing together as one…in unison. As dancers, we ourselves are the instrument, and this part in particular is designed to focus at the start on these elements, to enter the space of dance.
We revisit and review the choreography for “This Is Me”. The newest part, the slow section, we look at in more detail. It contains a “hitch kick”, a jump that takes off one foot, then the other, the legs throw back and change, landing one foot then the other. Meanwhile the arms circle back and overhead during the jump. We take time to examine, break down the elements and practice this. This slow section also changes facing several times, so we look more carefully at how this is done…to not be facing forward. They may be used to following me, or the person in front of them, but now that’s changed. Dance teaches self-reliance, to dance the choreography fully, one needs to know it for themselves.
Our work on “Faith” starts with a circle improvisation again, in the structure of everyone copying one person for 8 beats. Then we focus on an idea that we’ll use for the chorus – a pattern of moving forward, back, high, low, side, side, hit a shape. We do this several times, taking each element as a premise for the improvised movement.
We then spend more time with the task from last session, each group working on their 6 x 4 beats composition. I circulate to each group, coaching them to check that their sequence is fitting into the time structure, how to edit if it’s too long, are they clear in their movements, has everyone in the group been able to contribute, does everyone in the group grasp it. We practice them and then perform them, with 2 groups going at one time.
Gradually the students are having more opportunities to perform for each other, to create, remember and perform their own material, working together.