BodyStories: Teresa Fellion Dance

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Week 9 at the Ross School with Tamara!

August 28, 2018

This week I had the pleasure of teaching six young dancers with the age range of 6-12. This range was beneficial in that each student brought a different ability that could be utilized as a learning tool for the other students.Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 1.57.35 PM When we got into the studio Monday, we started off with the name game where we came up with a pose that everyone would then do and repeat until we practiced everyone’s in the circle and had our own mini-movement phrase. We then did our warmup that we would pull from almost every day that was able to warm up our whole body and brush on different technique tools that would benefit us throughout the week. On our floor aspect of the warm up we took a moment to discover different parts of our body that were able to be weight bearing. From this we began to discover the baby freeze. Though tough at first the campers were willing to help each other. By the end of the week each camper would have successfully done a baby freeze. Before leaving the center we learned a quick combination including hip hop footwork and floorwork so we could see how a baby freeze would fit into a movement phrase. We then did some of the basic hip hop traveling phrases to move us across the floor in pairs of two and worked on presenting movement with confidence. We found this to be an important tool come performance prep time because we were able to discover how to make simple movement interesting and make complex movement look like we’ve done it our whole lives. Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 1.58.24 PM
After lunch we started off with a game of freeze dance to get our creative juices flowing. We then added different tasks for the moment freezes. For example, we may need to travel at a low level at a quick speed when the music is on and then freeze with weight in our hands when the music stopped. After becoming comfortable in our own unique movements we broke off into pairs to create duets. The pair of sisters found each other quickly and then Sophia paired with Soraya. It was really heartwarming to see older sister Sadie (12) work with her younger sister, Hannah (7). You could see a lot of care in their creation together. Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 1.59.47 PMThe campers presented what they had created for each other and were then informed that these phrases would be used in the piece they would present at the end of the week. This seemed very exciting to them! We then learned two new phrases that would be used in our piece and reviewed our movements from the morning. Charlotte really impressed me with her ability to pick up movement quickly. We then began to set our movements to music and with spacing.

On Tuesday we shared our studio with the gymnasts and we gained a dancer. We began with our warm-up, being a little more upbeat and jazzy with our movements, as well as our set warm up. During our warm-up, we chatted a bit about how we stretch our muscles and why it may be uncomfortable or “hurt” when we are first beginning to stretch new muscle groups beyond their typical limits. We also discussed the difference between something that is uncomfortable versus a dangerous pain so we know when we should modify a movement or if it is just a new experience our body will get used to and improve us. We then went across the
floor performing energetic jazz movements including battements, chasses, leaps, box steps, and more. After our break, we returned to the studio and we all worked to catch up our newest dancer, Tilly. Each dancer helped lead her in parts where she may need guidance. Sophia and Soraya also rose to the occasion and created a trio with Tilly from their original duet. We then inserted all of our duets and completed our piece. We ran the piece and added personality and storyline to it. Even with the added distraction of sharing the room we were able to get a lot done this day! Finally, we ended class with a creative exploration of the four elements. How could we move like dangerous and sparking fire, smooth end thrashing water, grounded and strong earth, or light as free air? Each student’s exploration was unique and clear. We took our turns taking solo passes and guessing which element the dancer was presenting to us.

Wednesday started off with some nerves and excitement of dancing and teaching movements to fellow campers when we did our weekly flashmob to Danza Kuduro. Some of the gymnasts came up with us to present which brought more confidence to our group. We also gained an amazing counselor, Ajia who had a background in dance.

Once we got back into the studio we shortened our warmup due to being warm from the flashmob, and explored new vocabulary from modern technique. We looked at our floor X’s and swings and triplets. Before going to break we showed Ajia our piece we had finished the day before because the dancers were proud of their creation and always craved extra practice. We then returned to the studio to explore points of contact. Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 2.01.45 PMWe discovered different ways we can create shapes with another body and looked for interesting points where can connect. From here we added more bodies to find multiple connections on multiple bodies and how it can move. We then set a pattern from that exercise that we would use in our piece. Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 2.02.34 PM We returned to our four elements idea and created 16 count solos based on them and shared them. Each student learned someone else’s that they would use along with their own in the piece we were creating that day. After creating that we began setting an opening and new choreography, and placed our contact movement and solo phrases. After finishing, we ran both pieces a few times and discussed costumes. For our first piece, we decided to wear bright colors with a lot of fun accessories and our newest piece we would wear black and white.

Thursday was our last day all together and we were so excited to present what we had created over the last three days. Some of us forgot our outfits so we created makeshift costumes for our one piece so there is a visual difference between the two in what we are presenting. We started off the day watching videos on dance and what really inspires us to be a dancer currently. We then used our creative movement exploration. Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 2.03.48 PMTo warm our bodies up, we started off slowly mirroring each other across the floor- one person leading then the other leading on the way back. Then we included the added challenge of shifting the leader effortlessly multiple times in one run. We then finished with parts of our daily warm-up to make sure our bodies were ready to dance full out with feeling. We quickly took our break then practiced our pieces in costumes before our friends and family arrived to watch us perform. During the showing, we started off with an introduction of what we did during the week, how we created our pieces, and some of the dancers even willingly shared their favorite parts of the week to the audience. We then started off with our first piece in which all the dancers showed a great concentration and dedication to their movements. Enjoy this practice video!

We ended the show with our more upbeat piece which had the whole audience including myself cheesing about how fun and dedicated these dancers were. Every movement made me want to get up and dance too! My favorite moment is when each dancer chose an instrument to pretend to play and each dancer, especially Alex, would get so into playing their imaginary instrument. Each dancer really left their excitement on the floor and I was so proud of them! Enjoy this practice video of them in this stellar piece.

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Friday was the last day of the nine-week program, which is the camp-wide field day. I was able to help out two of the teams as they created their team’s cheer/ dance. I was pleased to see Hannah in one of the groups I helped and I could see her really take what she learned from the week in our dance program to help her in creating the red team’s dance. It was great watching each team present because each group had so much creativity and enthusiasm. Overall, The Ross School has left me with a lot of excitement for the future of all the young people that attended.

Ross Week 7+8 with Teresa

August 21, 2018

Week 7 + 8 at Ross was truly magical, dancing with the talented students in our Dance Minor Week 7 and our inaugural Two-Week BodyStories Summer Dance Program Intensive Weeks 7 +8! The six dancers in the Dance Minor came in with ambitious, creative energy, and together with them and our super counselor Casey, in 4-5 short afternoon sessions, we focused on three separate performance projects, as well as focusing on hip-hop and contemporary technique and warm-ups. On Monday, we created an introduction dance where we each had a chance to introduce ourselves, such as Delightful Denae, Awesome Annie, Shining Scarlet, Fun Freya, Terrific Teresa, Ka-boom Karla, and Sparkling Cecilia. We also learned a short hip-hop phrase to “Worth It” by Fifth Harmony that was the surprise Flash Mob song for Tuesday morning for the full camp! This way the Dance Minor students could jump up front and help demonstrate the Flash Mob combination in front of the whole camp, as they had the inside scoop! P.S. we got so excited that we forgot to record the Week 7 flash mob, but you can see the phrase that extended into the exciting Dance Minor Full Hip Hop routine in the Dance Minor!

 In learning this Hip Hop dance, I was so impressed with the students’ ability to master fast, specific choreography, and to work together musically during the inter-dependent timing of the dance.

The Dance Minor students were thrilled to create solos and duets as well! They worked so well together in their duets to create unison and complimentary movements, and everyone worked closely with their chosen music in order to create specific gestures, stay in sync with the music, and push themselves to add new movement patterns into their choreography. Wonderful job dance minors!! 

For Weeks 7 + 8, itScreen Shot 2018-08-21 at 9.10.30 PM was a true gift to be able to begin our first-ever BodyStories-designed Two-Week Summer Dance Intensive. This program was for dancers ages 9-14 with at least 2 years of dance experience. Since
it was our first year offering this program, it started out small, and Chris Engel, the Director of Summer at Ross, supportively gave us permission for quality over quantity, and wow, did these dancers do amazingly high-quality work in this program. What a way to kick it off. Our students, Ella and Lilly, are talented, intelligent, artistic, and fun dancing sisters!

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My goal was to offer the intensive students a breadth of material and to do so in an in-depth way so that they could be exposed to many aspects of dance, and focus on the technical and artistic demands of each before heading back to school. I also wanted the dancers to feel empowered in their bodies and creativity, and to have fun! With this fantastic group, we did just that. We warmed up with gyrotonics, yoga, ballet barre, some modern, jazz, ballet exercises in center, and across the floor. We also jump-started one morning with an energetic throwback FlashMob to House of Pain! 

Ella and Lilly were intrigued to learn more about modern partnering, so we learned several lifts involving balanced weight and counterbalance that involved momentum and/or controlled placement. We created a performance with these lifts and Lilly’s solo as a base to create a dance that was like a dramatic movement meditation.

The dancers learned a modern dance that focused on alignment, dropping weight, weight shifting, and that had a lot of changes of facing and directions, like a moving, dropping puzzle. They did a great job with this dance, keeping all of this in mind, and playing close attention to the phrasing in the music.

 For our third dance, Lilly and Ella learned a lot of low-level and floor modern movement that had wide weight shifts, such as jenga, derived from Capoiera, and slides and rolls on the floor.

 These coordinations and flowing, deep, seamless movement transitions were new vocabulary for them and they did very well with this challenge. They even each made a solo to begin the dance, inspired by aspects of the group choreography.

 Lilly mentioned one of our first days that she would really like to learn salsa, and I LOVE salsa and ballroom dance, so we all came together to close with a fun salsa dance. Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 9.20.33 PMWe brainstormed and learned several steps, ordered costumes, made our salsa emoji performance sign for all 4 dances, and my husband even brought my character shoes from NYC for Lilly to wear! We chose a very fast song, and I was so impressed that the young dancers stayed on the beat and performed the choreography with command and flair.

After all of our hard work each day, before heading up to lunch, we explored the gym next door a bit, and made a fun dance/workout/blooper video for the audience to enjoy during our costume changes. Enjoy our Turned Up Workout! 😉  

I can’t wait to see what these talented Dance Minor and Dance Intensive dancers accomplish during their school year, and to dance with them all again in the near future!

 

 

Week 6 at the Ross with Jess!

August 8, 2018

Week 6

What a wonderful group of campers this week! We had a total of 9 campers and 2 counselors-in-training (CITs) join our class. It was lovely seeing familiar faces and exciting welcoming new ones. We began on Monday in a circle with the name game, saying our names and adding a dance move that reflects our personality. We had fun trying everyone’s moves and learning their names.
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During our hip-hop warm-up, we discovered how to warm our muscles from head to toe, and stylistically, how movement, in most hip-hop styles, is more hard-hitting, strong, and full of personality and attitude. We applied these characteristics of hip-hop as we learned our hip-hop dance to the song “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. I was truly impressed with all 11 dancers’ focus learning the two and a half minute set choreography. After taking a break to “recharge our batteries,” we broke into duets and trios to create 2 to 4 eight-counts of their own movement to add to the rest of our “Uptown Funk” song. I enjoyed both witnessing and being a part of each group’s process coming up with movement.

 

We showed each other our creations and encouraged each other. Then, each group taught parts of their choreography to the group. Seeing the campers teach was one of my favorite parts of the day! They were brave enough to try something new, and it helped them remember their own movement Screenshot_20180808-190107_Docsby teaching it to others. Combining moves from each group’s creations, we added on another minute of the song, and then we opened the space for each group to do their duets and trios as a whole, finishing the whole 4 minute 36 second song. I was very proud of them; we made an entire dance as a group in an hour and a half. How incredible! What a fun day of discovery!

 

Tuesday began with my dancers and I teaching our hip-hop flash mob at the morning assembly. We “Uptown Funked” it up with our upbeat energy and sweet dance moves. We grooved all the way to the dance studio where the adventure of the day was – contemporary dance! We began by walking around the studio. We observed our surroundings, waking up our senses. When I said “one,” the dScreenshot_20180808-190426_Docsancers touched the floor. “Two,” they jumped. “Three,” they rolled, and “four,” they hugged someone in the room. This was a super fun challenge that tested our abilities to listen, remember, and do the requested action.

We continued warming up our bodies with spine articulations, prances, and forming animals and shapes with our bodies (see our “ship” below). We played with Laban Movement Analysis ideas of body, shape, effort, and space. We visualized initiating movement from different body parts, pushing through peanut butter, floating in outer space, and using the whole studio to move versus moving within a tiny space. This helped us while we learned our choreography to “Fight Song” and then dancers again created their own duets and solos. The dancers did a great job working together to create ideas and movement. Even our two youngest, Soraya and Silve, created their own song to go with their dance (so adorable!). I couldn’t wait to continue to developing our dances and duets throughout the week!
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Luckily, Wednesday morning came soon. We began by talking about our favorite flavors of ice cream. Chocolate was a crowd favorite for most (campers after my own heart). Our ice cream talk melted into movement freeze tag, and we took turns dancing and freezing our friends.

Afterwards, ballet barre moved our attention to our plies, tendues, and ronde de jambes. We grew like trees in releve and learned about our toes kissing our knees in passé. We turned in chaines, partnered in sautes, and walked like princesses with tiaras on in our ballet walks. I was impressed with how quickly they retained each ballet concept.

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After a snack break, we cranked up the music and played a combination of freeze dance, where we stop when the music stops, and where I called out different movements to do. We were all smiles, and the game ended in a group hug. How fun!

We then kept our energy up and our creativity flowing while working on our duets, trios, and solos. Each group added on, embellished, and/or cleaned their movements and showed them to the group. I enjoyed journeying with them in their ideas and encouraging them to keep growing even more. We then came together to learn our ballet choreography. It connects to our contemporary choreography through the same song “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. The ballet and contemporary choreography weaved in and out to reflect the contrasting gentle and strong qualities of the song. The dancers are working so hard to embody these characteristics. Their determination to try new things fills my heart with joy!

Thursday was rev
iew and rehearsal day. We started off by talking about our favorite parts of the week. Most included our hip-hop dance to “Uptown Funk” and working on solos. I then asked what kind of warm-up they wanted to do, and they all chose their favorite, hip-hop. We moved and grooved and acted like our favorite animals. We proceeded to work on our solos, refining, adding to, and embellishing them. I was so amazed at the progress each group and solo had made over the last four days. They’re incredible! We then worked on each of our dances, practicing the intricate steps, creating formations, and adding entrances and final poses. Cameron had the idea of wearing hats and jackets for our hip-hop dance, and I couldn’t agree more – the more style and attitude, the better. I was so excited to see my dancers an
d creators shine during their Friday showcase!

 

And then, at last, it was show day! We warmed up quickly and started reviewing and organizing the show order. The dancers were focused, determined, and excited! The performance began with a brief introduction of who we were and what we did during the week. The dancers took their places “off stage” and waited patiently for their music cue to run on. They were spectacular! From ballet and contemporary, to each solo and duet, and our finale hip-hop dance, my creators flourished. I was one proud teacher. We had audience members remark how amazing they were, how impressive it was remembering so much choreography over the span of 5 days, and that they loved the inventiveness of their creativity. One boy camper asked the question, “is this major only for girls”, and I said, “absolutely not”. Some of my dancers even protested saying, “it’s for everyone”. I couldn’t agree more, dance is indeed for everyBODY. My dancers were examples of that by their actions, words, and passionate performance. I’m so impressed with them and am going to miss my creators so much! I know they will go on to do many great things and I am grateful to have had the pleasure of being their teacher. Ta ta for now!

PS: Little 6-year-old Soraya wrote this song for her solo: “Spring is here, the sun rises and leaves fall to the ground. We run out the door and catch leaves.” (She later omitted her original song from her dance because she felt it didn’t go with her “Thunder” song and dance, but I had to share)

Week 5 at the Ross, with Jess!

July 31, 2018

What an inspiring week teaching at Ross with BodyStories! We were delighted to have 7 campers join our dance major. Madison, 10-year-old Maya, 7-year-old Maya, Soraya, Sienna, Summer, and Chenoa. Monday’s class began with a dancing name game to get our bodies moving and our names memorized. Then, we wrote down all of our hopes for the week: what things we wanted to accomplish and types of dance we hoped to do. Some examples include “ballet” from 7-year-old Maya, Ella wrote “music video”, and Summer wrote “fun”.

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We then jumped into our upbeat cardio hip-hop style warm up. The dancers started off a little shy, but the more we warmed up, the more their personalities shined through. The campers were especially excited when we did across the floor as they wanted to have a back sliding competition on the floor. A few things we learned are tempo, grapevines, lunges, the importance of breathing, changes of facing, hip-hop’s hard-hitting arms, and a little bit of attitude. 😉 I taught them choreography to the song: “It Feels Like Home” by Sigala, Fuse ODG & Sean Paul. They did a great job catching on to the movement and were great listeners.

We then moved on to creating our own dances. The girls were really excited about making their own solos and 3 of the girls a trio. Most worked independently on their creations, coming up with their own moves, formations, picking songs, and playing with props such as chairs.

The younger ones needed a bit more guidance on what movements to include, and they were creative in their concept and performed spectacularly. The trio and solos performed for one another and encouraged each other. I was very impressed with each movers’ great imaginations, hard work ethic, and passionate performances.

We had so much fun again on Tuesday! We started with teaching the whole camp our hip hop dance in our Tuesday flash mob. All of my 7 dancers were fearless and joined me up front and center to help me. It was fun getting everyone to move their bodies early in the morning!

In the dance studio, we began by asking the question, “What is contemporary dance?” We discovered that it is a fusion of ballet, hip hop, jazz, and more. Dancer Sienna said, “it’s more fluid than hip hop”. We then played the game “freeze and dance” where dancer 1, for example, is in the center and improvises and dancer 2 yells “freeze” and they embody the dancer 1’s frozen pose and improvise from there. We then played with space – we walked around, noticed, and vocalized what was in the studio. A fan, buScreen Shot 2018-07-31 at 7.07.05 PMshes, exit signs, a piano, a spec on the floor, stickers, lights, etc. We discovered large low spaces such as the floor and small high spaces such as the exit sign. We then jumped right into warming up our body toe to head. We played with tendus, plies, curves of the spine, arm circles or “airplanes” as I like to call them. We “flew” to London, Carribean, Disney World, Harry Potter World, and more. We pranced, jumped and chaseed across the floor where we ended our warm up in a requested back sliding competition. 🙂 We paused for snack time and chatted about our favorite ice cream and candy stores and learned a bit about food from our dancer Maya who hopes to be a “chef who changes how the world sees food!” Back in the studio we continued talking about our dreams, Chenoa wants to be a “doctor and dancer,” and Soraya wants to be a “singer and dancer.” Our dreams were incorporated in our contemporary choreography during the lyrics “I was dreaming of bigger things” in our song “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons. They worked really hard getting all of this choreography down. From gestures to passee chasees to clapping there was a lot to learn and they did a fantastic job retaining all the material.

We then reviewed our Hip Hop dance and solos and trio. We remembered, refined, added to and expanded our creations.

We played with dancing to the music in 7-year-old Maya’s solo, with space in Chenoa’s solo, with organizing formations in the trio, and 10-year-old Maya created even more material for her chair solo. Overall we learned about space, observing our surroundings, the contrast between fluid and bound movement, listening and dancing to the music, and our dreams. What a fun day!

Wednesday was ballet day! We began with a little history of ballet and where it comes from, learning briefly about France, Catherine de Medici, and Louis the 14th…how ballets were an escape from reality Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 7.11.10 PMwhere people would go to watch something magical. Our magic began with a little group game that allowed us to use our imaginations, creating “machines” with each of our bodies. Each dancer was one part of a car for example. It allowed us to visualize how we can create images and formations with our bodies. We then went to the barre and learned about plies, tendus, degagés, rond de jambes, and grande battements. We saute in first and second and learned how to spot in chainés. The dancers worked really hard with their ballet movements. Some had taken ballet before, and for some, it was their first time. I was very impressed with how quickly they got the concepts. After snack, we wrote down our dreams on our long paper and enjoyed dreaming and laughing together. We then learned our ballet dance for our Friday performance to the song, “Born to be Yours” by Kygo & Imagine Dragons. Playing with the music and formations, we entered the space one at a time giving each dancer a moment to shine. They did a great job figuring out how they wanted to enter the space and came together in a group pose using our “machine game” concept.

After creating our ballet dance, we rehearsed our solos/trio, as well as our Hip Hop and Contemporary dances. One of my favorite parts about today was the girls encouraging one another during their solos, as well as, giving each other ideas when asked for help. Their camaraderie brought me so much joy. I had such a great time with these incredible movers, creators, dreamers, and thinkers!

On Thursday, we focused on cleaning, organizing, and spicing up our dances and solos for our show on Friday.

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 7.11.29 PMI had an incredible time with each of these wonderful dancers and creators this week. Seeing their hard work, dedication, and talent shine in Friday’s performance was incredibly fulfilling. I was so proud of their boldness and bravery performing for our large audience, as well as, seeing them work together as a team to make each group dance a success. I hope this week sparked their imaginations, furthered their dance vocabulary, and encouraged them to fulfill each of their dreams. They’ve definitely inspired me to fulfill mine.

Week 3 at the Ross, with Andrea!

WEEK 3 at ROSS with ANDREA
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It was a creative week with Mila. We found fun ways to make dances and play games that included the body interacting with props, drawing, and video.

On Monday we made a Hip-Hop dance with some Breakdancing floor work, such as the salsa, kick-outs, and then a hinge-up to standing. At the end of the dance, I followed Mila on the ‘party train’ where I had to follow her in space and with my arm movements. Then we did 9 poses, again I was following her lead. In one of her poses, she jumped into center splits – I tried my best to follow…

For our creative exercise, we planned and shot scenes for a music video we made to Katy Perry’s song ‘Roar’ (Mila’s favourite song). We wrote our different scenes (ie/ Mila wanted to shoot a ‘jewel’ scene and make something that would look like ‘the eye of the tiger’). We included animal movements, and a jungle scene using the plants in the studio.

On Tuesday we started out with the Flash Mob to ‘Let Me Clear My Throat’ by DJ Kool. I made it slightly more complex than the previous week, but everyone did a great job picking up the details. I had some help from Nygel, Stefano and Rachel as backup dancers which was a great help.

In the studio, Mila and I worked on a ballet piece from Swan Lake (the dance of the petit cygnets). We did a full ballet barre and stretches, and then used the techniques we had just practiced in our dance, such as relevés in first position, cou de pieds devant, tendus and chassés. We also worked on chaîné turns, and spotting while turning, keeping our eyes on a pink pylon as we moved. It helped to have a bright target.

Lastly, we finished editing the Roar music video. Mila helped me put the scenes in order, and make selections to fit the song.

On Wednesday we worked on contemporary dance, starting out with a fun game called Switch (from Ruth Zaporah’s Action Theatre) where you do a repeating movement at either a low, mid, or high level. When one of us calls ‘SWITCH’ you change your repeating movement and pick a different level. It’s a great way to open up the improvisation channels and create surprising options.

Our contemporary dance was to a song in a ¾ time signature, so we clapped it out and felt the difference. We learned bounces and high lifts, relating to ocean waves and gathering the sunshine. The dance continued in the ocean theme with mermaid sections, a fishy bourré traveling step, and ended with a slow-motion seaweed garden.

For our creative exercise, we played a game with the pylons where we had to stay on the floor, not use our hands, and push the pylon across the room. It made for lots of weird rolls, slithering and new inventions.

We then got some craft paper and took inspiration from dancing and drawing. With the paper rolled out across the room, we each took a section, and several markers, and danced along the paper leaving a trace as we went along. This was a fun way to talk about, and make, dance notation.
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On Thursday we reviewed our dances for the Friday showing. I thought it was very brave of Mila to want to do a show as she was the only student in the class that week.

We warmed up with a game of connecting eye focus to movements, where you move a body part, then look at it with your gaze. Then reverse, starting with moving your gaze, then playing a body part in line with your gaze. It’s a great improv warm-up that challenges focal co-ordination.

Then we went down to the basketball gym to teach the players a breakdancing routine. Mila commented that she realized how hard dancing really is, which she noticed as we were teaching the movements to people for their first time. What came easily to Mila was difficult for the basketball players.


Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 9.08.54 PMIn our creative exercise, we continued with our dance notation/drawings on paper. We tried to follow our drawings like reading a book, and we translated the images into a dance. It was very fun to try to re-interpret our own notations.

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On Friday we started the day with a showing for Mila’s parents and the gymnastics class. Here’s the video of our presentation:

Afterward, the gymnastics class requested that we teach them our hip-hop dance, so we went over there and played and danced together. (Andjela took a video of that). They taught us a few things too, like back walkovers, and a game called ships and sailors, and then we played freeze dance altogether.

We finished our day with some games using dice and pylons, dancing between the pylons cased on the number we rolled.

I was delighted to have worked with Mila this week. She was very inventive and willing to try lots of new things, including new ways to use dance to create and communicate.

Week 4 at the Ross, with Teresa

July 25, 2018

In the Week Four Dance Major, I had the pleasure of dancing with the imaginative, vivacious, and talented trio; Stefano, Soraya,
Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 7.44.02 PMand Jonah! They were such a special, tight-knit group who were motivated to create four dances in the brief time frame we had together.
We studied hip-hop technique and created a fun performance to a song
from Minions. In the song the minions sing about bananas and papayas, so our counselor, Emma, drew the most wonderful banana props for us, and the dancers loved doing their fast, sharp movements.

We also improvised and studied composition that each dancer used to create a solo to express themselves. Jonah really connected to the song Freedom. Stefano loves heavy metal and danced to the hard rock song Headcase. Soraya had amazing focus and presence in her dancing and singing solo to Girl on Fire.

Since Stefano is such a heavy metal fan, and most children love dogs, I brought in a metal song by Caninus, a band in which the lead singer is a DOG, and we had a great time choreographing to it with our blow up guitar props. To make the piece a parody, we called it Waltz Dog. The piece starts as a waltz, and then the metal music and movement unleashes as a surprise onto the audience and gets re-contained at the ending proper waltz. For this group with a lot of energy, it was a very fun dance to create.

We also studied modern dance. The students practiced and presented a challenging modern swing combination that involves balance, coordination, and momentum.

We also participated in a Merce Cunningham chance dance process and found inspiration from Merce’s work, Beachbirds on video. We created six movements that we put in a complex score, and the dancers did a wonderful job of remembering their sequence. What a puzzle,

 

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and what a creative set list!

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In the Week 4 Dance Minor there were nine wonderful dancers who focused on hip-hop.

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On Monday we learned the choreography for Tuesday’s Flash Mob to Lose Control by Missy Elliot, and the students helped lead it with me on Tuesday morning.

We watched the Lose Control music video and were in love with the strong movement, use of fans/wind, the setting in the desert, and in the old West Saloon type location. We drew inspiration from this and made a music video with some of these elements of wind, and dancing on the wall.

For the live performance, the students made amazing solos and duets, as well as learned a complex, lengthy hip-hop sequence. They were rockstars!

The dancers in both groups were so enthusiastic and had so much love of movement and respect for and fun with each other. What a gift to be with them and lead them this week!

Week 2 at the Ross, with Andrea!

July 10, 2018

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What a fun week with Stefano and Rachel. They are fantastic dancers and willing to try so many new things.

On Monday we looked at House Dancing. This technique grew from the Disco era, combined with Soul and Hip Hop to become a complex and rhythmic contemporary style. We talked about rhythm and did improvisation exercises where we danced to the music, and then tried to dance ‘off’ of the music to feel the difference.

We tried some basic House movements like jacking, slides, kick-steps, and then did some 6-steps on the floor. We did a creative exercise inspired by Vogue technique, where we practiced framing our head and shoulders with our arms in fun, angular ways. Here are some pictures of our campers doing all of these movements! They conquered the athleticism needed for this complex, high-adrenaline choreography. What a feat on day one! They are some spunky, creative kiddos. Finally, we put the movements we had learned into a dance phrase that pieced it all together.

Here’s our House dance phrase:

 

On Tuesday we started out with the FLASH MOB to Happy by Pharrell Williams. Everyone did a great job jumping in and doing their best. It was helpful to have Nigel and Orlando as backup dancers as I demoed. It was a fun way to start the day with group energy.

After the MOB, we worked on Contemporary dance and floor work. We tried walking, rolling and standing back up as quickly as possible. Then did a floor sequence including leg swings and a shoulder stand, and we talked about how using momentum from the swinging motion of the body (arms or legs) makes floor work easier and more fluid.

Here’s our Contemporary Dance phrase. In it, Stefano and Rachel both have solos that they made up themselves. Stefano’s is inspired by the angular arm movements of Vogue-ing, and Rachel’s is inspired by HEATBALL: a game we played with an imaginary ball of energy moving around the body. At the beginning of the dance, you’ll see them walking in counter-balance by leaning away from each other without falling. I showed them a video of Trisha Brown’s work where she uses this lean.

As an improv exercise, we played GRID where dancers move through the space on a series of intersecting lines forming a grid pattern, and they can walk forwards, backwards, or sideways (but only on the grid), and they can also pause, sit, or lay down. It makes for interesting encounters and relationships when working with these constraints. It becomes unexpectedly engaging.

Lastly, they played an improv game with eye focus, where they a) moved their body, then looked at the body-part they just moved b) moved their gaze, and then placed a body-part into the path of their gaze c) moved their body and gaze at the same time. The idea is to try and move quickly and not think too much about what the next movement will be. We did this to a steady rhythmic piece of music. We discussed qualities of movement that are sharp, angular, robotic, and the use of shapes.

On Thursday we worked on a dance inspired by the 70’s TV show SOUL TRAIN where two at a time, people would freestyle down a line combining locking, funk, house, and disco movements. We learned how to Charleston, syncopate our clapping, how to mash-potato, chest-pop, and even threw in a jazz split. For the performance on Friday Rachel and Stefano are going to dress up in fun, colorful outfits for this piece. Cool cats.

Overall this week I was very impressed by how well Rachel and Stefano absorbed complex ideas like rhythm, momentum, spacing, and movement qualities, and have been willing to jump into improvisation scenarios and solo work. They are brave and focussed, and obviously love to dance! I really enjoyed working with them.

 

Week 1 at The Ross School, with Megan!

July 3, 2018

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It was wonderful to kick off Summer Dance at Ross last week. What an uplifting, vibrant, and supportive community. During Tuesday’s morning meeting Teresa and I led ALL of the campers and counselors in a “flashmob” style dance to Bruno Mars and Cardi B’s “Finesse” to wake everyone up. It was amazing to see how moving together created smiles and a sense of community that followed the campers as they dispersed to their majors. We are hoping to implement a morning meeting flashmob at least once per week for the rest of the summer!

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Week 8 at the Ross School, with Teresa!

August 23, 2017
IMG_5485.MOV.00_00_08_18.Still002My students during Week 8 were truly fantastic in different ways. In the Dance Major, I had a focused group who felt the joy of dance and wanted to spend every moment rehearsing. In the Dance Minor, I had an inquisitive and energetic group that kept moving the whole time, wanted to try a million movement games, and made an interactive dance crime scene. What an inspiring week!

 

IMG_5487.MOV.00_01_42_24.Still001The Week Eight Dance Major wanted to do three dances, even though it was a short week with our showing on Thursday because of Field Day on Friday. What a motivated group!

 

Each dance had a wonderful mix of group movement and small group/solo movement. We enjoyed learning choreography and creating students’ own variations for their small group work. I am truly proud of them! Our first dance incorporated and drew variations from the fun new song, “Rolex.” We learned choreography, made our own variations, and made a MASHUP DANCE VIDEO to this dance we all enjoyed learning together. Of course, we also performed it live, so our audience could see the sitting and lying down dance floor snow angels in person!

Our second dance was to “Alingo,” a song by Nigerian R&B duo P-Square. The students were thrilled by the amazing rhythms in this song and they did so well with a lot of formation and direction changes. Our final performance was to “Titanium” by David Guetta and Sia. We began this piece with barre solos and small group dances on the barre. In creating these with my direction, the dancers were very in tune with their timing, and were so adventurous! We then left the barre and continued with contemporary and lyrical movements. The dancers were truly beautiful.

 

 

The Week Eight Dance Minor was also so much fun!! With such a wonderful and lively group, we were able to do so much creative movement through games and create dances too! We played dance versions of zip zap zop, chair escape, chance, museum, and so many other great movement games. We also created an exciting dance phrase from alliterative qualities of our names, such as Jumping Julian and Dazzling Divia.

For the “shape of you” we made interactive group shapes with our bodies a la Pilobolus, from triangles to trapezoids, even a pentagon and a peace sign. One of our students knew all the words and background to a lot of music from various eras, for someone of her young age.

From her (and my) vote, we danced to “Smooth Criminal,” by Michael Jackson. The dancers worked amazingly and imaginatively together to make a full dance crime scene out of the song. It was a talented group that both learned choreography, worked collaboratively as a group, made their own solos. So proud of them!

I will miss all of these lovely students until next summer. See you then!

Week 7 at the Ross School, with Danielle!

August 16, 2017

Ross 2 8-9For Day 1, we started by watching a video that featured the top 10 movie dances of all time. The dancers really seemed to enjoy Grease’s “Hand Jive,” thus we decided to make our own rendition throughout the week. As a movement exercise, we played “Shrinking Room” where the dancers had to walk, crawl, jump, and change directions throughout the space. The parameters became smaller and smaller forcing the dancers to be creative while being cognizant of others. Lastly, we finished the day by playing Musical (dancing) Chairs – the dancers had to learn choreography as they navigated the space and find a seat before the music stopped.

For Day 2, the students mentioned that they LOVED Disney, Mulan being one of their favorite characters. Thus, we decided to create a warrior dance using pool noodles set to “Make a Man Out of You.” We explored various formation  Ross 1 8-9options designed for five people. After setting some choreography, we played “Crazy Golf” in which the dancers had to make structures connecting body parts as one person crawled through the creations. We finished the day by watching video clips of Baryshnikov, Sylvie Guillem, and Michaela DePrince.

Day 3 was all about partnering. We did a mirroring exercise, played with counterbalance, and even introduced a bit of social dancing. The dancers then traced their initials with various bodies parts – first standing, then playing with levels and various directions. Once we practiced our two dances, we then turned to the Rockettes for some unison inspiration. We attempted a kick-line, but the various height differences were a bit of a challenge.

We kicked off Day 4 by describing an adjective + animal through movements. The students had to draw a piece of paper out of a hat, act it out, and have the other students guess. We had hungry hippos, excited puppies, sad snakes, and angry birds. We then explored musicality and various time signatures. The students learned the difference between 3/4, 4/4, and 5/4 time signatures. Lastly, we learned a bit of dance history and recreated Pina Bausch’s “Cafe Mueller.” In lieu of chairs, the students placed pool noodles and pillows around the space. One dancer had to close his or her eyes and walk briskly around the space as the others cleared a pathway to keep the blind dancer safe.

For our last day, we reviewed the Hand Jive and Mulan, in addition to learning a bit more dance history. The dancers learned codified movement from Bob Fosse, Martha Graham, Nijinsky, and Jerome Robbins. They also learned a Luigi arm sequence, a box step, and basic salsa steps. All off these elements were rehearsed and performed for the parents at the showing.