Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Color Dances Part II

Last night was a great class.

I begin these groups sitting in neutral. This means sitting criss-cross and spines long and straight, hands on our knees. This position alone invites some great dialogue with the girls. We talk about posture and relate posture from dance to our lives. I noticed the little tough one was slouching and not really taking any deep breaths, much like her first class. Without singling her out, I shared with the girls how taking the deep breath actually sends oxygen to our blood which goes to our muscles, which helps our bodies to dance. This opening circle helps me not only to gather the group, but create the group, as well as prepare our minds and bodies for the class. We begin with a deep breath in and out. On the second breath, we exhale all the troubles and worries of the day. Then a third breath for cleansing. Sometimes we gather all the good energy on that inhale. Then, I ring the earth bell. The bell signals class has begun, and we sit in stillness and silence for as long as it rings out.

Next we do the shake down. Two students wanted to lead it, so we did it twice. It is great to find those little moments in the class that invite the girls to take on leadership roles, as small as they may seem. When one of my young students expresses interest in being a leader, I am inclined to give them that moment. The creative movement class can be a fun and safe way for individuals to try out being a leader. They may be more inclined to take on leadership roles outside of the dance class, which is the hope and intention.

Next, we continued the warm-up in a structured free dance reviewing levels. To classical music, we explored movement in low levels, medium, and high. We also recalled dancing in our space (bubbles) as we danced freely. Then, we free danced to the drum, hitting poses of various levels. At some point, I make a game out of it, and the girls laugh as they try to keep up with the drum. It is  a great way to get everyone smiling and not thinking, but doing.

Our literacy component for this week was brainstorming words and phrases associated with different colors. We made lists for red, green, blue, and yellow. This was great. They got very into it (hands were shooting up!) and we read each list out loud together. When it was time to turn these lists into movements, one of the girls said she had some great things to share for the color orange. This turned out to be a great moment; I invited the girls to make their own lists at home and bring them to the class and we will take time to share and dance them. I will be very excited and keep my word if any of the girls return with a color dance of her own.

The design of the next part of class is inspired by an exercise that can be found in Augusto Boal's Games for Actors and Non-Actors. First, we created a circle standing in neutral. Then, each student took a turn to enter the center of the circle where she says a color out loud and a movement for that color. The outer circle mirrors the movement. Once everyone felt confident with the color and corresponding movement, I turned on the music and took out the scarves.

There was such a small group by the end that instead of a performance score I had planned (which was breaking them up into small groups where they would then create a color pattern and dance it),instead we improvised a dance using the movements from the circle. We were the dancers and the audience - drama! We explored these movements in various levels, and played with them, making them our own. It was beautiful and fun and the girls were happy and smiling.They were passing off leadership, they accepted all the offers, and they kept the flow and the rhythm.

It was a true ensemble piece

Oh, we did have an audience. There was a mom, she was smiling. I'm glad she got to see her daughter in a leadership role, being creative, while dancing beautifully.

Next week 's inspiration: opposites

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