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.