dlr Primary Arts, 5th Class Scoil Cholmcille, Ballybrack 5th Dance Session, 9 March – Watch Me! and Call & Response!

Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland

It comes as no surprise that music is a great influence when it comes to dance.  I had asked the students to offer their suggestions for music that they would like to dance to, as they had asked a few times whether I had certain songs.   While I might love some old favourites in the Pop and world music genres, as they work well for tempo rhythm and clean lyrics, it’s great to get an injection of newer sounds.  So Ms. Keenan collected the suggested tracks, and together with the class, edited the list to a few.  “How Deeps is Your Love”, Calvin Harris, “Watch Me Nae Nae”, Silento, and “Sorry” Justin Beiber made the shortlist.

So this week the warm-up sound track changed to “How Deep is Your Love” and with a familiar tune, there was bigger energy input to the movement.  We had a go at “Watch Me”, which comes fully kitted with a dance routine that everyone (but me) knows and we unapologetically improvised to Beiber.

Interestingly, when we danced “Watch Me”, even though there are moves that come with the song, there were differing ideas amongst the students as to what those moves are and how they are performed…this opened a discussion about interpretation, individual styling of moves and interpreting movement from video.

And it sent me looking afterwards to youtube!  It’s a catchy track if you haven’t heard it, but you probably have, since it’s nearly as popular as “Gangnam Style”.

It’s one thing to do popular moves to popular music…they are already affirmed in mass culture.   It’s a great way to get everyone engaged and dancing.  I’m also trying different structures for each student to explore and value their own movement, and to pick up and value each others’ movement.

Call and response is a group technique we use in body percussion, whereby one person proposes a rhythm and the others copy/repeat the rhythm.  Standing in a circle, each student took a turn at making a stomping, clapping rhythm, and everyone else tried to copy.  It trains the ear as well as the eye for picking up quickly, as well as staying in sync with each other.

This also prepared for a similar game, Signature Moves, which works in the same structure, with each person making an individual movement, and then everyone copying them after.  We kept “Sorry” in the background to give a 4 beat tune.  Everyone had a couple turns as we went around the circle.  Some proposed quite energetic moves, while others were shy and declined to have a turn.  In this game there’s room for both choices; there’s always an invitation to try…and try again.

Which we’ll do in other way in weeks to come.

The METNs 6th Class Ninth Dance Session – Rehearsals with Umbrellas!

dlr Primary Arts Blog, 9th Dance Class, (11th Session) 6th June 2014
Monkstown Educate Together NS 6th Class
Artists: Robert Connor & Loretta Yurick, Dance Theatre of Ireland

Today, we did EVERYTHING for our performances for St. Paul’s Glenageary which takes place next week, June 12. WOW, it took a couple hours, but we made it through everything… and with the music. Not only did we make it through everything (we have learned a lot of material) but we perfected a lot of things! And connected other things. Also we got to use Umbrellas for the first time for the Singing in the Rain.
So the order of the programme is: Opening remarks, Loretta & Robert will explain a bit about Nature Moves and the work we’ve done together the past 12 weeks.
Then for the performance, the running order of sections is

The two Corridors representing transition to secondary school
Earth & Tree Poems
Girls Tree section
Boys Tree Section
Crab Section
Then there will be a little introduction about SINGING IN THE RAIN, while we get our umbrellas. And then our finale performance
SINGING IN THE RAIN

Then a magnificent and well deserved bow!
Performance is at 1:15 pm Thursday June 12 at the church, St. Pauls, Glenageary, 31 Silchester Road.
All the children will eat before coming to the church and will be in the church ready to have a “run through” with music at Noon.
Everyone is psyched. Wearing black or a dark color.
They were amazing today!

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The METNs 6th Class Fourth Dance Session – Deforestation Dance

dlr Primary Arts Blog, 4th Dance Class, (5th Session) 30 April 2014
Monkstown Educate Together NS 6th Class
Artists: Robert Connor & Loretta Yurick, Dance Theatre of Ireland

When we walked into the hall we all described what we did in our outside nature experience. After that, we studied a sheet learning that the Rainforests are being cut down at an alarming rate. Approximately 1.5 acres are cut down from the rainforest every second.

The first activity in Robert and Loretta’s Dance Workshop session was a warm-up. It was like your ordinary warm-up except with a slight twist. All the things you would do in a warm-up were put into a dance. This made the warm-up more fun. After the warm-up we were all awake and ready to do some harder stuff.

The next thing we did was a lot of smallish movements that we would string together into a dance. Some of the movements were punches, kicks and fist jabs. This way of making a whole dance was helpful since we didn’t have to remember the whole dance instantly, rather than remember small movements and putting them together.

Then we started making our own dances using improvisation and then putting that at the end of the dance. The last activity with partners. One partner would do a random dance move that he/she thought of on the spot, and the other partner would copy that dance move, and then vice versa . This was called mirror dancing. This was a pretty fun activity because you had to be quick on your feet.

– Conor (METNS student)

Our session in dance on Wednesday was exhausting, but fun. We started off by telling Loretta and Robert about the time we spent by ourselves in peace in nature and about our poems/paragraphs we wrote, but we were all too shy to read them out loud. After knowing some of the people in the room from three to seven years, we wouldn’t exactly be willing to tell them our style of writing, especially not poems.

Once we finished with that we spread out around the room and did our hip-hop warm-up. For a warm-up it’s very fast paced and energetic, but we’ve been doing it for a few sessions so we’re not as sloppy about it as we once were. Afterward we did a slower warm-up, with stretches and some yoga moves-such as downward-facing-dog- included. Though it is a slower warm-up it is a lot more tiring. We had a minute rest after that before we moved onto a tree-chopping based dance.

The dance had 16 beats which were repeated twice to a creepy/thrilling sort of music, and it was very hard to get right as almost every beat had a move included. We started with our backs facing the ‘audience’, and by the time we had finished the first 16 steps we were facing the audience head on, and we repeated the 16 moves again so that our backs were turned by the end of it. We did this twice, then (to the same music) we did random chopping movements to imitate tree-chopping but more chaotic as it was improvised.

Once we had finished with that we moved onto the next project. In this, we had to pair up with someone else and mark each other as either ‘A’ or ‘B’. I paired up with my friend who was ‘A’ and I was ‘B’. Robert then explained to us the difference between copying and reflecting (mirroring). If you were simply copying your partner, you would repeat their moves, e.g.; your partner raises their left hand, you raise your left or right hand. If you had to reflect, when they’d raise their left hand, you’d raise your right, so it’s symmetrical. ‘A’ would start, and ‘B’ would reflect. Then, after four beats, you’d switch. After we had gotten used to this Robert and Loretta changed posing to moving, and instead of switching after four beats you’d switch after eight. I had lots of fun making my partner do weird dances and vice versa. I am enjoying our dance lessons and am excited for the next session.

– Saoirse (METNS student)

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