In this, our fourth year, we once again have the opportunity to help out at the Ross School of Learning teaching dance to their lovely students! We started the summer with one of our amazing company members, Maria Gardner, leading Week One! Enjoy reading about Maria’s experiences below….
On day one we had a small, but mighty group of dancers. We introduced ourselves by creating a handshake. Clara and Lauren instantly bonded through their handshake and this sense of teamwork carried us through the rest of the day. We warmed up the body using jazz tools and technique, touched on ballet positions, jumps and turns. When it came time to learn choreography to pop song, “Pompeii”, these young ladies had more ideas than me! I was blown away by their imagination and creativity. They mastered the set choreography I threw at them, while also incorporating their own individual spin on each move. We concluded the day by playing with negative space, using bodies as structures for improv. I’m excited to dive deeper tomorrow and exchange more ideas with these young creatives.
Tuesday we were a class of happy campers. Literally! We went around the room and created a movement based off of how we felt this morning and most of the dancers said they felt happy, which was paired with a creative movement. For modern, we learned about C curves and head to tail connections, as well as some basic Yoga and Alexander technique. Within our contemporary phrase, danced to James Vincent McMorrows, “We Don’t Eat”, we applied these tools to led choreography, as well as gestures made based off our names and favorite foods. Our mighty troupe choreographed their own phrases and mastered a creative challenge where we traveled as various animal types. Each day we grow a little more!
Day 3 we took it to funky town with our street jazz piece to “Get Up Offa That Thing”. The dancers did a call and response exercise, creating movement from words drawn from a hat. We then learned the line dance, “Wobble” which we made our own and inserted into the piece. The girls had some difficulty with the rhythms and footing within the steps, but they kept at it and remained dedicated to mastering it. We finished off the day working with levels, tempo, and directional changes. Each dancer is becoming more and more comfortable with their individual expression. Big steps were taken today and I’m so proud of them!
Day 4! Today we were inspired by the fish swimming about in the Ross indoor pond. We imagined these fish swimming through our bodies, and how this would make us move. In the studio, we imagined 5 fish swimming through us and even imagined other animals crawling through us. This sent us spiraling and shaking all over the dance floor. We really worked up a sweat! We then got with a partner and took turns closing our eyes, trusting our partner to lead us safely through the space. The dancers expressed that this was scary, but that their partners gave them clear cues to direct them out of harm’s way. Our group is stronger and closer than ever on day 4. We spent the rest of the time reviewing and finalizing our dances for tomorrow’s showing. Our bodies were really feeling it today, so of course we had to conclude today’s session with a massage train. It was no surprise that this was their favorite part of the day 😉
Friday was performance day, and wow I could not be more proud of these girls! Our little stars took the spotlight with ease and made everyone in the audience smile. Before the showing they expressed how nervous they were and how they were afraid of embarrassment, but as soon as the music came on, all fears went out the window and they had a blast!
Each of the dancers agreed that their favorite part of the week was creating the jazz piece, and their favorite creative exercise was our animal evolution exercise where we created movement using inspiration from various animal types. The most challenging aspect of the week was remembering all the choreography of each dance and keeping track of all the formation switches.
We of course had to finish off the week with a dance party, where we danced to their all time favorite song, “Despacito” as well as “Watch me (Whip / Nae Nae)”.
We have grown so much as a group this week. Each dancer discovered movement that is individually unique to them and I am so happy that we were able to show and celebrate this growth.
I had too much fun working with these girls; they will certainly be missed!