dlr Primary Arts, 3rd Class Carysfort National School  8th Dance Session, 23rd March – Smooth & Rough !

dlr Primary Arts, 3rd Class Carysfort National School 8th Dance Session, 23rd March – Smooth & Rough !

Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland

Today we started with the two dances that comprise our warm-up, and the students really DANCED them.  They are now well-versed in the vocabulary of these dances, which have been part of nearly every lesson.

Following this we revisited the Fiesta dance, which was the focus of our first several lessons, but we haven’t done since the February mid-term break.  We took some time to review the movement and revise the partnering parts, so that each pair had a 32 count phrase of their own making that included a jump, a turn, change of level and contact with each other.  Once we had a look at their phrases, one half of the class at a time, we did the whole dance from start to finish.  It was amazing to see how the students have grown into theses three dances.

After the break, we focused on improvisation with attention to texture and time…moving “smoothly” for 8 beats, and holding for 8 beats in whatever shape/pose the movement dictated.  Encouraging changing levels, and facing, the element of space could also be explored.  Smooth didn’t have to be slow, some students moved at different speeds over the 8 beats.  We then tried moving in an opposite quality…”rough”…again moving for 8 beats and holding for 8.  Rough had a more rhythmic, angular, quicker, sharper quality about it.

This led to a paired improv.  In each pair one person moved for 8 beats and held a pose for 8 beats.  While they moved the other person observed their movement, so when the first person stopped, the other person moved, taking something from the first person’s movement and interpreting / adding to it in their own movement.  After 4 or 5 of theses exchanges, they swapped, so the other person became the initiator.  We did several rounds with the “smooth” texture and then several rounds of “rough”.

We did this with one half of the pairs at a time, so they had more space and also the other half could observe.  After each round we took time to hear observations, both from the “audience” and from those doing the improv.  They observed and remarked on choices that were made, e.g. to repeat movements, when someone was or wasn’t really moving as a response to their partner, things they found humorous, and impressions they had, such as someone’s “rough” movement looking robotic.

We finished with each group copying in pairs, one person in the pair moving from choices of smooth or rough or stillness, and the other to copy in the same moment, to be as precisely the same as they could possibly be.  Again we did this in half the group at a time, followed by time for observations.  The copying overall seemed easier, as one student observed, they didn’t have to remember what their partner had done.  It required a more immediate response.

No one seemed to find it hard to improvise movement, their confidence in moving from their own resources has grown, and they seem more at ease exploring dance on dance’s own terms.

Ms. Barry has made a cool collage of photos and dance words.

Dance Collage Carysfort NS 3rd Class

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.

Harold Boys National School 5th Class, Dalkey – Third Dance Session – Improv!

Harold Boys National School 5th Class, Dalkey
Third Dance Session, 27 March – Improv!
Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland

Friday before Easter Break…spirits are high!

Today we focused attention on the freestyle or improv – utilising some specific task ideas as a basis to exploring how each person can compose their own dance in real time.

After the warm-up and a small break we improvised to a piece by Trick Daddy – “In da Wind”, getting a “bop” going… an easy bouncy energy in the legs. Then we explored dancing with specific parts of the body leading the movement; shoulders first, finding lots of ways the shoulders can move. Then hips; circles, side to side, forward back, fast, slow, figure 8 – some floor level variations too. We tried ribs, a bit harder to isolate and move. Feet next; can be rhythmic, stepping, changing speeds and even down low, supported by hands. Elbows – we had lots of chicken wings! We also explored two other energies besides “bouncy” – “smooth” and “sharp”.

Having explored the “menu” together, each person was asked to pick 3 – body parts and energies – and improvise in their own way, changing from one to the other, being very clear in their choices which element was to the fore in their dance. We then formed a large circle and took turns, 4 or 5 people at a time, dancing inside the circle.

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All this informed the improvised sections of “La Fiesta” which has some set and some improvised parts. We did the whole dance a few times through… and finished off with one more round of dancing in the circle.

What a way to celebrate Friday heading into Easter Break! see a video clip here >>