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.
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 by 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 dancers 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!
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.
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)