Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland
We began with our “scales”, a warm-up to How Deep is Your Love” and a brief stretch. Taking a cue from the students, their favourite dance being “Whip Whip”, we danced this again. I commented how they had all improved in the movement and in their own improvisation in the dance, and even their enjoyment of dancing. This seemed to prompt their competitive curiosity “who’s the best?” and they asked could they have a dance off – boys against girls.
As a rule I don’t go in for competing in the educational arts environment, as I believe everyone is working to find their own best selves, but in this case we simply had the boys on one side of the room, facing the girls on the other side, and they performed the dance together facing each other. Everyone was highly engaged, putting their energy into the moves. Expecting me to pronounce a winner, instead I gave feedback on how each had performed, how they had improved moving together as a group, and how they each had improved their own performance since we started.
On the final day we spent time working in smaller groups, creating free-styling structures and at the end each group performed them for the others. While this would have been more akin to a competitive platform, there was no mention of asking who was best, rather it was integrated as many parts of one dance.
Afterward we took some reflective time to discuss what they had learned, what stood out for them of the entire dance project, how they may have thought of dance at the start, and now, or what they might have learned in dance that is applicable to life.
Below is a selection of their comments.
– I think the blocks in Dun Laoghaire were lots of fun because we made a lot of weird creations.
– The blocks were fun because they allowed us to be creative.
– The blocks day was my favourite day. I got to play with my three friends and build a lot of cool things.
– I liked learning about the different types of dance and making up routines with my new dance moves.
– I liked Run DMC, even though it was an older song it was cool dancing to it!
– Overall I had fun. It gets you fit for life and makes you feel good and full of energy.
– My favourite thing was when we worked in groups or when we did ‘Whip Nay Nay’.
– I could put aside being competitive and just dance for enjoyment
– I loved everything- much better than real school!