Glenageary Killiney NS 2nd Class, Artist Robert Connor, Teacher Nicola Cummins, First Dance Session – 21 January

We started the first of 16 dance sessions at Glenageary Killiney National School, a new experience for most of Ms. Cummins’s expectant 2nd class boys and girls.  On introduction, we discussed rhythm (time) texture (the feeling of movement) and space (where dance takes place), and how movement can be described according to these three basic aspects of the language of dance.

We also introduced the idea of “non-verbal” – referring to the aspects of communication that are other than the words we use; e.g. facial expression, gestures, body language and voice intonation.  Dance, being largely a non-verbal activity draws on the human capacity to create and communicate non-verbally.

We also discussed Kinesphere, or “personal space bubble”, the 360 degree space in which each individual moves.  Being aware of one’s own and each other’s personal space bubble is important in dance, to move freely.

We introduced the warm-up, emphasizing breathing, rhythm and movement patterns, building from the simple “2-step”, adding grape vine steps, clapping in rhythm, 2nd position plies, side stretches and a bit of improv before ending with a big “ta-da” shape….the warm-up introduces the students to learning movement vocabulary, each part is explained incrementally without music, and then we do the whole piece with music!

This warm-up will be repeated at the start of each session, as it not only systematically prepares the dancer physically, but as the “pattern” is ingrained, there is an opportunity for each student to deepen their awareness within the dance as they get to know it and themselves in it.  Like piano scales that are repeated before launching into Bach or Beethoven, the warm-up also informs technique.

Briefly we discussed the role of music; that music sources draw from popular, film and even classical music.  We will also draw from their music preferences.

We also talked about the idea of “connection” in dance, how dance connects one with their own body, their imagination, their experience, each other, and the space.

As an introduction, everyone seems pretty open to this project, and I look forward to working with the 2nd  class and Ms. Cummins.

We also did “travelling steps” across the room, in groups of four which also included improvisational elements.  Starting with walking “on the beat”, in their own style, each student had the chance to do their own walk, resulting in great diversity and fun.  We then skipped, and each student improvised their own upper body gestures while keeping the beat and travelling across the room skipping.  Spatial directions “high and low” and “changing facing” added to the menu of task ingredients that they could include in their skipping improv.

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