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. 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.
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. The 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. We 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. 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. To 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.
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.