Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland, Teacher: Elizabeth Breen
Coming into the final two sessions, and with our sights set on finishing the choreographies, we work through the warm-up and stretches. Most notable in this part, the students are moving well, making a real dance of this material that gets them focusing awareness on their bodies, the space around them, changing rhythm, direction, and texture, and moving with a sense of unity.
We turn our focus to the two choreographies, “This Is Me” and “Faith”.
The “This Is Me” chorus section repeats several times, so we create some variation in the canon “wave” effect coming forward. Starting from the back of the group, the dancers came forward in lines, each consecutive line joining in until all were moving forward together. It had been a slide, with arms high, as they moved toward the front. We made a variation on this for the last time of the chorus, with a skipping step, and rather than stopping when they reach the next line, do another movement on the spot. This achieves the wave effect and also creates another layer of motion as the wave moved forward.
We practice the whole dance several times, the slow expressive opening, into the more rhythmic lyrics and wave canon of the chorus. The sense of accomplishing the whole is coming into view, and they become more self-reliant in getting through the entire song…the crescendo of their strong “This is Me” shapes each time the line comes in the song…and at the very end.
In “Faith” we review the groups’ choreography for the lyric sections and the choreography for the chorus with the directional movement premise. There is a “break” part of the song, and for this, they travel with rhythmic steps, circulating, weaving around and through each other, to join with someone else who is not a member of their group. The groups were self-selected to begin with, so this idea is to get them to work with someone not in their group. Here they learn a simple partnering routine, and then leave to move through group again, this time to partner with someone of the opposite gender (moving out of comfort zones). Here they learn a second pairs phrase, and with this partner, they make a short 8 count phrase of their own…When the chorus comes back in, each person performs their own group’s chorus movement, so in each pair they are doing different movement, but moving in the same spatial directions.
In the final session, we have a short time to rehearse each of the dances, and without prompting from me…they take ownership of the choreography. They are nervous, excited, which is a good thing. I can see they have grown in their abilities to work together, to focus in ways they might not have before, to understand musicality, moving rhythmically, multi-dimensionally, and to feel more confident in their movement expression and believe in and experience their creativity in dance. It’s really a joyful performance.
Well done, 6th Class! Thank you!