“Today we started freestyle for our stretching dance. We did a new dance in the low level space. We were really cool mythical creatures dancing to a jungle song. I liked the song for the low level space. It sounded like some jaguar was creeping up on you. I would like to learn a routine to Uptown Funk and Titanium.”
Warm up – What’s next? We went through the warm-up, asking the students to identify the sequence of the warm-up for themselves, identifying what follows after each part. This is a group effort, working together to recall, without my prompting, the components of the warm-up dance. Then we danced it, without prompting.
Stretch Squeeze Circle Wave – in your own way. We did the stretching part of the warm-up as an improvisation. Each person gets to move in their own way to stretch for 4 beats, and squeeze for 4, circle for 4, and make waves in their bodies for 4, cycling in a lyrical (joined) alternation from one quality to the next, repeated several times, and then in double time.
Space: Near / Far, Shapes at different levels, low, middle, high. We looked at the element of space, asking everyone to move together with as little space between them as possible. This resulted in something of a pile-up…whereas I’d meant as close as possible still having space around each person…and then to move so as to have maximum space around each person.
But someone got hurt in the pile-up which prompted a discussion about…
Respect, Discipline, Teamwork – Three things needed in dance before learning even one step. Thinking like a dancer builds Awareness…of oneself and each other. Respect…what does this mean? and someone said “caring for each other”. Good start. In every activity, dance included, we must respect ourselves and one another, take care for ourselves and one another. Discipline…every art form is defined as a discipline, following a practice to accomplish something. Discipline is finding in oneself what is needed to accomplish something. Teamwork is needed to accomplish something together, to learn together, to dance together.
We went on to discover making shapes at different levels and with different parts of the body defining the shapes. E.G. making a shape at a low level with just 1 foot and 2 hands on the floor. Or a high level shape with only one foot on the floor Or a shape with 1 hand and 1 foot only touching the floor. Or with one hip and one elbow touching the floor. Or only two hands, your nose and your knees touching the floor.
Floor level dance – This led us to a dance that takes place only at low level. It starts with the image of an imaginary mythical reflective pool, and we are animal-like creatures, we start in a “frog” position, with both hands softly swirling this imaginary water. A voice like sound in the music makes us more attentive, we raise our bodies and arms, and then slink to a seated pose like a sphynx, legs folded in fourth position. The next moves are circular leg swings to either side, and a spin. Then 4 beats to move at low level, creature like, and strike a pose, repeat to return. Then a series of moves, a flat starfish shape, fishy hands, and staccato moves to come up again to the frog position, balancing with arms high, to finish.
Across the floor we are skipping, with each person choosing their own arms, but keeping the skipping throughout while having free choice to change facing, levels and arms. So part of the dance is the unison, i.e. the skipping rhythm and step, while the facing and arms are individual, free, improvised. We take this idea in pairs, each duo creating a weaving impromptu dance crossing the floor, changing places.