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

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 >>

Harold Boys National School 5th Class, Dalkey – Second Dance Session – Meeting in Space and Rhythm!

Harold Boys National School 5th Class, Dalkey
Second Dance Session, 23 March – Meeting in Space and Rhythm!
Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland

Happy Monday!

This week is starting and ending with dance. For today’s session, we re-visited last week’s lesson with a quick recall of what the students remembered, what stood out for them. Then we did our “scales”, including a general warm-up to Moby “Honey” and a stretch to “Rushing” by the same artist. We also tackled “in and out” rotation of the legs, moving toes, heels, toes (both feet at the same time) from parallel to 2nd position. This wouldn’t sound like a tough one to get, but since humans normally move one leg after the other – as in walking or running – moving both feet at the same time symmetrically opposite, is a new coordination for most. Which brought up another new big word – neuromuscular pathways. Hmmm? Every new learned movement maps new pathways of the nervous system’s connection to our muscles, which is how we are able to move. We learn new co-ordinations slowly to map the right path and add speed once the path is mapped.

But hey lets dance! Next we played a “space game” based on the colours of the boys’ shoes – some students moving as quickly as possible in, around, through the spaces between other students who were standing still. Focus on the open spaces; avoid other movers; be ready for quick changes of direction; precision in your own pathway. As the number of those moving increased, (yellow and pink, not so many, blue, black and white quite a few) the more diligence to open spaces and reflexive changes of direction were required.

This led us to the next part of the “La Fiesta” dance. Skipping for 8 beats, (everyone at once going anywhere in the room) finding a partner and performing a series of hand contact and body movements in rhythm together – shake hands, bump hips, join elbow and skip round – then skip again for 8, find a new partner and perform a “hand jive” of claps, slaps, turns and a jump high 10. Can you get through the room where everyone is also moving without colliding; find the same partner in the same place at the right time? and all pairs do the shake shake, bump bump, clap, slap rhythm in time together? Yes! (with practice)

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Then there is listening and silence…sensing rhythm though there isn’t a beat to hear. Can you time a stunning jump in the silence to land in a dynamic shape exactly when the beat first hits? Yes! (with practice)

“La Fiesta” is a dance journey in space, rhythm and texture which these boys are embracing in full measure.  See for yourself! >>

Harold Boys National School 5th Class, Dalkey – First Dance Session – Great Start!

Harold Boys National School 5th Class , Dalkey
First Dance Session, 19 March – Great Start!
Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland

On this sunny (if foggy) March Friday, we started with the first of 12 dance sessions at Harold Boys National School, a new experience for the exuberant 5th class. On introduction, we discussed space, time (rhythm) and texture and how every movement can be described according to these three basic aspects of the language of dance. We also introduced several new words – “non-verbal” – referring to the aspects of communication that are other than the words we use; e.g. facial expression, gestures, body language and voice intonation. Dance, being largely a non-verbal activity draws on the human capacity to create and communicate non-verbally. Which led to the next new word, “kinaesthetic” – the way we perceive movement in ourselves and others.

And the dancing?…well these guys love to move! Following the warm-up, (which we did non-verbally and then with music), and a stretch, we did “travelling steps” across the room, in groups of four which also included improvisational elements. Starting with walking “on the beat”, in their own style, each student had the chance to do their own walk, resulting in great diversity and fun. We then skipped, and each improvised their own upper body gestures while keeping the beat and traveling across the room skipping. Spatial directions “high and low” and “changing facing” added to the menu of task ingredients that they could include in their skipping improv. Ultimately, they were asked to weave and interact in pairs, with skipping and improved gestures.

DSCF2389_lo res         SAM_0524_lo res

To introduce learning/building a dance, we started a short dance routine to Will Smith’s “La Fiesta”. This has elements that the group does in unison, moments that utilise voice and changes of rhythm and texture. The intro and bridge have improvised or “free-style” moments, both their own dance moves and making quick, sharp shapes. The short video clip speaks for itself for their enthusiasm for “La Fiesta!”

Watch the short video of the boys here >>