The objective for today was to work a bit more with the song “Titanium” and to introduce a new song as at the last session the students expressed interest in both ideas. So we did the Warm Up straight through and in fact it was really impressive how everyone was moving together. In taking this sequence first thing every day throughout the residency as a practice, the whole class is moving very well together, and with confidence. We also did some slow stretching squeezing circling and waving and followed that with the shoulder circle, parallel swings and long lunge stretches.
I took a moment to review how we have analysed the structure of the song Titanium, and to recognise the beat even in the parts where it isn’t as prominent. We worked with moving in a very slow, large, sustained quality for the first section of the music and then for the second section, to continue to move sustained, and large and very slightly faster, but still in slow range. In contrast to this we tried moving with staccato quality for the very rhythmic chorus – moving broken, sharp, strong and rhythmically on the beat. Like the energy of ‘punch’, each movement is quick but also stops, change the body part that moves and change direction, e.g. high, low wide, forward, behind. Not having to memorize the movements, but be clear, change body parts and be rhythmic.
We tried this with the music, the structure of which meant we cycled through each stage several times. So we were changing the tempo and energy of the dance relative to the music.
Once the students got the hang of this, we went into pairs, with an A and a B. Both took a starting shape standing that is open, with lots of space. With the B holding their shape absolutely still, the A moves in a very slow sustained quality around over under their partner’s shape, for 16 beats, and then they reverse roles. They switch again moving slightly faster and finally moving fast staccato on the beat in very close proximity to their partner. What was amazing to watch was their concentration and fluidity in slow motion, and the stillness of partner who was holding very still, which also allowed the moving person to really move in their partners space shapes. When they progressively moved faster they still had an acute sense of this attention to the space. It was also exciting how their movement changed in energy with the music in a very clear progression into the solid beat. We then divided the pairs into two groups and they danced the whole song through a second time with only half the pairs moving at a time so they could watch one another.
After the water break we started on a new dance, to ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ by Justin Timberlake. It’s too much to describe all the movements, but what I will say is the ability of everyone to ‘pick up’ the dance was remarkable. What would have taken more explanation and repetition, for example learning the first dance ‘La Fiesta’, today took much less of both. In one moment everyone moves to a different place while turning, a rolling grapevine, then strikes a shape. This challenges their use of space, quick decision making – how to navigate through the changing gaps between each other when everyone is moving and turning – but how they did this today demonstrated how much they have grown in their skills and abilities to navigate space while dancing.