Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Here are my own Christmas Angels! How lucky am I?

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous, wonderfully creative and fulfilling year with all the dancing you desire. May your dreams come true.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Isn't it always the way? Before going on holidays I was overwhelmed by all that had to be done and just wanted to rest. Now that is all in the past I seem to have heaps of undirected time. So what do I do? Think of dancing all the time! And go over the year to sort out what worked best and how I can improve on the rest.

The photo is of a sweeping dance activity in a pre school class during the year which they loved.

For the last classes of the year I ask for requests. Usually there are many old favourites that come to the fore and I make sure the class contains them.

This year something interesting happened with the pre-teens. For years this group has asked for activities like chairs or going to the office (tucking a cushion under an arm as if it is their lap top and going down straight corridors, up spiral staircases or waiting at the lift). Some how it just didn't do it for them anymore. They have grown out of these scenarios.

Other much requested tasks are- design with jewels, "It's Me!" (a trust exercise where I call a number and that dancer says in a loud voice "It's Me" and all the others rush to support her as she falls to the floor.), different areas of the room have different movements and motor bikes (holding gold tubes in front like handle bars and swerving in between each other).

An other request is for the circle dances for our picnic...great ways to warm up at the time of the year when you just want fun and games without the intensity that is usually part of the class.

What are your students favourite activities? I would love to hear?

All over!

After all that work it was over in 2 days and we were packing up the scenery and folding the costumes for another time.

The hours of effort by everyone that go into the production are a labour of love for those involved. One wonderful parent painted each bone on 14 skeletons! Others gave up their time to make dresses, capes,shirts, skirts, pants and wonderfully atmospheric costumes. All totally appreciated by me who hyper ventilates at the sight of a sewing needle.

So what will it be next year? Something a little simpler. Something that does not require mixed groups and no soloists that need to be woven through the story...the logistics of the enterprise are just too difficult with the time available unfortunately.

I have an idea.........

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

And then.....

Beneath the Waves

Mermaids with attitude!

Slowly the other parts came together. We added Fish (Grade 1/2)

then on dry land the Pirates met a band of Little Pirates (Prep)

who helped them on their way to find the treasure.

They had to travel through the Jungle (Teenagers Contemporary),

meet The Tinkers (Grade 2/3/4),

be introduced to the Parrots (Kinder)

who showed them the way to the Swamp (Teens again)

to be frightened by the Skeletons (Grade 2/3/4)

before finding the Jewels (Grade 5/6)

in the cave where the Treasure Chest

was hidden before they are rescued having done a Horn Pipe!

Almost there! But I felt I need one last very up dance and who better to do it than the if they didnt have enough do already. They came up trumps with a great fun, high energy piece, totally created by them,that many loved the most.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shipwrecked! continued.....

Now I had to create a story. If there was a shipwreck there had to be a storm. This gave me a chance to use large fabric as the calm sea rolling down the stage then small pieces broken up representing the sea as the storm intensified before the ship sank. Good, one dance sorted, eleven to go! Mermaids could rescue the Shipwrecked Pirates but it seemed a good idea to have the teenagers create a dance inspired by the currents beneath the surface before they did. Pre teens with a bit of attitude seemed the best group for the Mermaids. The youngest groups were perfect for Parrots and bands of Small Pirates and another group could be jungle elf type creatures inspired by Tinker Bell but this only was about 30 minutes of dancing.

By July I was in a bit of a panic. It seemed impossible that the small numbers of groups in the school could do enough dancing to make the performance fill the time I wanted. Concern I would be asking too much of the dancers combined with the reality that rarely were the groups complete due to various reasons such as illness, school commitments and birthday parties, plus the three soloists were incredibly busy with other performances, made me even more despondent. Would we be able to make it happen? How would we all feel at the end of the year? And winter seemed to go on forever!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Now the holidays are finally here I think it is good to catch up on the last tumultuous term and write about the process of creating our performance this year.

Sometimes the idea or theme is quite clear and almost formed in my mind but not this year.

My initial inspiration was the fact that my 5 year old grandson was very much into pirates and there was a TV commercial (what it was about I cant remember) that showed a line of youngsters on stage dressed as pirates. In the back of my mind I kept seeing a silhouette of a sailing ship in a similar vein to our previous year's performance. I knew if there was a shipwreck there could be mermaids, the sea, desert islands, jungles, bands of pirates, creepy swamps and treasure. But how to draw it all together? What subject would be appropriate for each class or group? And could it be made to last a hour?

Walking along the beach last summer I started to make up a story in 4 scenes- the sea, the jungle, the swamp and the treasure..............

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What Excitement!

This is one of my kinder students getting ready back stage and looking as if he is just a little bit excited!

During the rehearsal of the bows he put his hands over his ears when he heard the clapping. I told him he had better get used to applause as he was going to hear lots of it and I was right. Who got the greatest roar from the audience at the performance? guessed it.... the kinder Parrots!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dance Picnic Break Up

Wonders of wonders the weather held off so we could have our Dance Picnic in the park. It looked as though we would have to cancel but the rain stayed away and the sun even shone now and then.

Team arrived as Mr Titch this year and entertained everyone with an interactive Tai Chi demonstration before leading a a rather unusual version of Tai Chi Sword Form.

Then we ran through all our circle dances ending with a spiral that morphs into an archway before becoming a circle again. It is so delightful to see everyone from littlies with their parents through to my super cool teenagers....well I think they are anyway...... joining in together in the simple dances like Negun Itik and King of the Fairies.

It is a lovely way to end the year as the performance is just a memory now and we need to have sense of completion of the year.

Having been very tardy in writing this blog this term due to a feeling of being total overwhelmed by all that has been going on in my life I am going to, now I have some space, review the performance etc in the coming days. So look out for some great photos as it was quite something!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Little Light Relief

With only two weeks till the performance there has not been the brain space for blogging. However this week the pre school classes "went to India" inspired by the Commonwealth Games and I quickly took this photo of one class "catching the moon light" in the garden with their scarves. We perfumed our feet so there was a lovely scent in the air. It was a delight to see them entering into the fantasy and I thought this was a lovely image. We danced as monkeys, bathed in the Ganges, became snake charmers and snakes and finished with Bollywood.

A little light relief from the intensity of rehearsing Shipwrecked!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Busy Teenagers

My question of the moment is "Do the busiest teenagers in Bendigo come to my classes?" Right now as we get closer to our performance the chances of all the class being together at the same time is remote. They take every opportunity that is offered to them and more. So if there is a school or community performance they are in it, if there is Tournament of the Minds they are in it too and win! If there are chances to see performances in Melbourne they are there. But what about class and rehearsals I inwardly are we going to be ready and have the dances up to scratch? Thankfully they work very hard when they are there so there is a chance it will be right on the night...but will I have any hair left?

Speaking of hair, here is a photo of my pre teens freezing before a performance they were involved with at the Harvest Moon Festival in Bendigo last week. They danced so beautifully that I was very proud of them particularly as they were not at all comfortable in the cold. They will reprise the dance in the performance in November and feel much warmer!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Over The Moon

Big week this week. My friends huge performance in Castlemaine is this weekend. Rehearsal Friday followed by another in the morning then 4 performances over Saturday and Sunday.

I used to know many of the students from relief teaching and generally being around the studio but over the last few years have been focused much more on my own school and Edna has many people to teach for her now. With so many classes and keen to keep the performance running at about 1hr 15mins each individual dance lasts about 3mins - 2mins for the littlies.

The production values are so high that she has set a bench mark for us all. There is a constant flow of dancers on and off stage, no thumping or noise or light spill as backstage doors are opened and shut, nor fumbles with props. It takes an army of dedicated people to shepherd the dancers to the stage then keep them quiet in the foyer (the facilities back stage are extremely limited) whilst they wait for their bows.

An exhausting but inspiring time.

It was a relief to not have to worry about the dancing....just do my allocated job. But now I am back into performance mode for myself so I found one of my favourite photos from last year to remind me it WILL BE OK!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I'm Back

It is such a long time since I have written in this blog that I hardly know where to begin! Holidays, sickness, preparations for the performance and new ventures have taken their toll on my blogging focus.

In the photo above the dancers are stretching like cats on their cushions ...a welcome diversion from the serious business of rehearsing their dances.

Our performance is called Shipwreck! and all the dances follow the story of three sailors being lost at sea with fishes and mermaids then finding the island where there is a band of little pirates, jungle creatures, Tinker Bell's companions, parrots, swamp creatures, skeletons and jewels....phew! A lot of creating has to go into an hour of performance with a small number of classes. Consequently there is a bit too much stress for my liking particularly when dancers are away and sequences are tweaked and changed. Then a game of catch up ensues which takes more time out of rehearsing. I cant believe it will come together but as my friends remind me I say this every year.

Last year was so intense I thought a bare stage, black dance wear and improvising for an hour was the way to go but it looks like I cant help myself. There is always a story to tell!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Keeping it Simple

I was reminded of my book of the moment "Improv Wisdom" again this week.

The idea, that Patricia Marsden mentions in her book, of the limitations of having to constantly come up with something different came to me as I was watching dancers using props.

Dont get me wrong I love using props. They are an enticing aspect of the creative dance class delighting the students with the chance to play. But they can be a distraction too leading to dull predictable movements. On this occasion they were using buckets and scarves. The idea was to wash the scarf in the bucket, flick the water off it then put the scarf back in the bucket and skip and dance to another part of the room swinging the arms, changing the bucket at times from hand to hand by taking the bucket behind them. Before I knew it many of them were off balancing with buckets on their feet or heads, rolling buckets, dropping buckets and so on. The dancers just focusing on the simple instructions were dancing with such grace while the others were thinking too much and the mind and body were not as one.

Some times this happens in the Adult and Child classes where an adult wants to extend the experience of the child by thinking up as many unusual ways of doing the movement or using the prop as possible but not actually experiencing what can be gained from following a simple instruction for a period of time.

It seems to me another case of needing to find that point of balance where the student can relax and allow the ideas contained within the task to be explored and see where that takes them without the frantic need to keep coming up with alternatives all the time. The pressure involved in always being original stops the student from allowing their own individual response to emerge.

I wonder if this strikes a chord with anyone else? Or do you feel it is important to challenge the student to come up with as many ideas as possible? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Question of Balance

This week I have been reading "Improv Wisdom" by Patricia Madson which is full of ideas about taking the notion of improvisation into every day life. As I spend most of my working life improvising but the rest planning, making "to do" lists and fitting everything into the day I thought it an interesting concept to explore.

It has got me thinking about the question of balance. We seem to always be striving for the balance in our lives, becoming aware that we are tipping too much one way or another and trying to get back to balance as if balance is the Holy Grail and static. But it seems to me balance is dynamic and that the forces that pull us each and every way are a dance in themselves. Just as the small dance of the muscles in the standing position keeps us upright and ready to move (imagine if the muscles were totally held with tension in the standing balance- it would be so hard to respond) the forces that pull us this way and that keep us alive to the present.

So to my week. My daughter is back from New York with a terrible chest infection so she has returned home to be nurtured by her Mummy and Daddy not what I had expected to fit in with my normal schedule, a friend forgot she was coming to visit and I had put off doing other things to see her, someone changes another appointment, I have a problem with my front tooth and need to see the dentist straight away and I am going on holidays and want all my work done so I wont need to be thinking of it while I am away. The demands on my time keep mounting...Aaaagh! All I can do is, like any improviser, face the situation as it comes to me, respond in the best way possible and keep going a moment at a time. Did I succeed....mmmmm. Anybody else in a similar situation? I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Inspiration from Goran Bregovic

This week our classes were inspired by a CD lent to me by my friend Edna.

"Welcome to Goran Bregovic" is a wonderful disc with a great range of rhythms, moods and tempos. His website is gorgeous and has many more CDs of his music. Edna filled me in on her class which was, as usual, wonderful but of course I used some activities that suited then added my own.

The set up was a construction of square frames around the edge of the space that were windows looking into a snowy courtyard with white material as drifts of snow.

This is how the class went.

Task 1 Track 9 Looking through the windows making shapes, looking at friends in windows across courtyard.

Task 2 Track 7 Holding sleigh bells dancers follow rhythm 12 123 (good thing bells are so loud as lyrics are a bit dark!) up, down, side to side, holding shape 12 and moving 123, step, step, turn around etc.

Task 3 Track 6 Dancers make shapes of icicles in courtyard that melt into a puddle that shrinks as it evaporates. Dance to another place and start again.

Task 4 Track 8 Dancers throw white material snow balls watching where they land. How many ways of throwing- behind, though legs etc. Then trowing through windows and quickly throwing them out again.

Task 5 Track 18 Skiing all the movements of the down hill racers, slalom etc but accidents happen and falls in various ways are explored.

Task 6 Track 17 Apres Ski. Big party to finish with all the tricks of spins, cartwheels, leaps, twists and steps they can think of ending with a Conga Line out the door.

Another week of fun!

What fun activities did you explore this week? I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Building Villages

This week it seemed necessary to ignore the cold and wet weather outside and imagine ourselves in the in sunnier places. To inspire the class I set design materials of terra-cotta pots and chopsticks on the carpet. The idea was to build a village of houses and use this as a starting point for the class.

Depending on the age of the students we stamped on the ground to flatten the area creating a pattern of stamps, jumps and turns, adding straight and round shapes with arms, gathered imaginary fruit and vegetables from the forest with much stretching, placed potatoes on a camp fire (red scarves and chopstick with balls for potatoes), danced around the fire whilst the potatoes were "cooking" before taking them from the fire for a hot potato dance. Red, orange and yellow scarves were flames from the fire so dancers leapt, spun, twisted and turned through the room throwing the scarves and catching them. To cool down I said there was a river nearby with hippos slipping and rolling in the mud. This week they rolled out the door rather than jumping. Great fun!

The designs were fascinating and used a lot of balance which was explored in some groups. I am always looking for interesting and simple counter balances. If you have any ideas I would be very interested to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What a Day!

This was a day to remember in the dance studio. Firstly, in the 17 years I have been teaching I have not had an "accident" during class. But that record has ended with the large puddle on the carpet from a poor little dancer who suddenly had to "go"! Much cleaning up and avoiding the wet spot for the rest of the day. In the afternoon class my assistant, Amanda, arrived with a heavily bandaged hand as she had cut herself the night before. Perhaps it was because she was being careful with one part of her body she landed awkwardly from a jump and injured her achilles tendon. Much scrambling round for ice followed. As she was sitting resting in pain a large jug filled with water and Autumn foliage which was sitting on the ledge above her head tipped over drenching her in cold water and leaves. What could we all do but laugh as we mopped up the floor and rang her husband to collect her with a change of clothes? Thankfully her, injury whilst painful, is not as bad as she first thought and the following morning she could still laugh about the whole incident. Whew! The next day everything was back to normal. Have you had days like this? I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wee Willy Winky

How the week has flown! The classes had "Wee Willy Winky" as their theme this week. We started with Babushka Dolls on rugs with cushions as their door mats. Dancers wiped their feet before visiting each house. Then I took the dolls away and said that each family liked to do something that was very special. In one house it was jumping, in another it was making shapes, in another skipping and lastly it was spinning. As it was very cold dancers had to skate to each house. To test their memories I took the houses away and they had to remember where each movement activity was. After that each dancer held a star. The idea was that they had to follow the star through the night which lead to lovely explorations of levels. Dancers were then Willy Winkys running through the town down straight roads, turning sharply at corners, then stretching to rap on windows or crouching down to look through locks. They made streets of houses with windows and doors with their bodies that other dancers could look through. Lastly they danced over stars strewn on the floor to go out the door and put their shoes on. Fun! What did you do this week? Do you have classes that use Nursery Rhymes as inspiration. I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mediavel Castle Fantasy

This week all the tasks were arranged around the idea of the Mediaeval Castle....the castle being of course in our imaginations. We looked through stained glass windows (hoops covered in cellophane as in the photo), created strange castle shapes with towers, arches, turrets and out-buildings by making joined shapes in a group; danced like Lords and Ladies showing off our beautiful, imaginary clothes; found ourselves in the tower having to send messages by painting in the air then painting on a partners back and watching them interpret the message by dancing it; deciding our message was not being seen and throwing the message (tulle gathered around a small ball and held with an elastic band) from the window. Finally we were free to dance in our own way at the end of the class before jumping out the door. Phew! It was wonderful to see the young dancers finding ways of moving from strong shapes, to flowing lyrical movement, to grand gestures and joyous free dance. I have a great job! What did you do this week in class? Was it something new or old favourites?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Boys Dancing

This has been a busy week with new classes underway and "bring a friend" days giving new children a taste of our form of dancing. Sometimes it is hard for dancers to bring friends as all their friendship group dances. Sometimes there is another reason. For some students, often boys, it is a secret that they dance. Their friends don't know, they feel they will be made fun of if news of their interest gets out. Even in this day and age with So You Think You Can Dance being such a success the question of boys dancing is an issue that can result in bullying by some who ignorantly think dancing is not the strong, athletic activity that it is. We as dance teachers do our best to support and encourage boys but sadly sometimes it is not enough and talented students leave to join basketball teams and pursue other more socially accepted physical challenges. What percentage of your school's students are boys? How do you encourage them to combat social pressure and keep dancing? I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Different Ages Present Different Challenges

This week my adults class started and what a pleasure it was to teach. There were 6 participants with the prospect of more next week. The oldest was a man in his 70's who had never dance before! He was fantastic! It made me reflect on how different each class feels. The 2 1/2 year olds are organized chaos, the kinder kids are sorting out friendships and consequently easily distracted, the prep, grade 1's and 2's are much more focussed (though 5 year old boys can be a challenge!), the grade 3's and 4's are very chatty with big personalities vieing for attention, grade 5's and 6's seem to struggle with energy and have a touch of "attitude"and the teens are full of life and energy that needs to be focussed into the movement they are doing. Now with the adults there is I love much easier to teach and how beautifully they danced.

Do you have a similar experience? I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

5 minutes of design

Doing design at the beginning of a class is some thing I learnt from Mangala (the Creative Dance Studio in Melbourne where I started on my journey). They call it centering and is provides a gentle segue from the some what frantic life out side the studio to the more calm and focused atmosphere in the studio. Many different materials can be used.....little terra-cotta pots and chopsticks can become villages, felt pieces can be made into pictures, stones or jewels into fantastic patterns.

This week each child was given a bowl and a handful of jewels to put around the rim of bowl placed upside down on the rug. When that was taken away there was a perfect circle that could have a central design added or what ever the dancer wanted to do. I have to keep an eye on the is very compelling and some dancers get so involved that they would do it for the whole hour. It is a happy memory for many older dancers who don't have it as part of their class any more. Even last night one teenager asked if they could do "jewels" this week..... mmmm.... I think she might have just wanted a rest though!

Do you have any activities for helping promote concentration and focus in the class? I would love to hear.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What worked well this week

Two activities I did this week might be of use in your creative classes if you have not tried them before.

The younger classes were exploring the theme of "Houses" (above is a photo of our "Teepee" village) and as one of the activities I asked them to make statue shapes with windows, doors, tower, bridges etc. I then reminded them of the story of the 3 Little Pigs and how the Big, Bad Wolf huffed and puffed and blew the straw and wood house down but couldn't blow the brick one down. I then tried to discover what material they were by feeling how strong they were...the straw collapsed, the wood wobbled and the brick was immovable. This activity gave the students a clear difference in the feeling of internal strength and they loved to trick me by starting off brick then turning to straw and falling down.

The other idea I used in the older classes when we were doing mirroring exercises. I asked pairs to copy each other but instead of a mirroring their partner I wanted them to do the same movement - if A raises and moves his right hand , B facing him moves her right hand. A little more difficult than classic mirroring but it resulted in creating some very interesting movement sequences that travelled in opposite directions.

I hope these ideas can be helpful. Did you do anything that worked really well this week? I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Down Side

I love teaching but the business side of having a dance school can certainly give me grief. Every term I expect to lose 10 students for various reasons and always hope that parents will let me know if their child is leaving so that if they change their mind at a later date (or bump into me in the street) they don't feel awkward. Yet few do.

This week coming back from holidays there were dancers missing and their friends informed me they have "quit". Quit is a very powerful word I find and in these circumstances makes me instantly want to "quit" too. With an attrition rate quite high (about 15%) I have to constantly find new students to keep the school viable. Advertising is not nearly as successful as "word of mouth" with "bring a friend" week being the best way to give friends a taste of our dancing. Still with so much competition for the students time from sport, other dance schools and drama I often feel exhausted by the struggle to keep positive.

Do you have similar issues? What are your strategies? I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wonderful Blog Land

This morning I have a few moments to myself and have become lost in "dance blog land". I love the plethora of information that blogs give me access to. When I first got the internet many years ago I would type in Creative Dance and many sites would come up but the info was about their classes not what went on in them. Sometimes "the well" needs filling and if one is, like me, in a country area it is sometimes hard to find new inspiration. I am lucky that Central Victoria, Australia has attracted many artists and dancers but is great to get out of my own back yard and meet others interested in dance from around the world. It is great hear what they are doing, what inspires them and what their concerns are. Though I teach creative dance the way ballet teachers use imagery to help dancers understand various concepts can start me on a whole new way of seeing things.

Blogs I love are Move.Create.Educate, DanceAdvantage, Leaping Legs, Dancing Branflakes. You might know of more. Let me know if you do.

I could not resist posting this photo of my friend Liz. She hates having her photo taken and does not perform at all anymore but you would have to agree she still loves to dance!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Old Dancers Never Die

Yesterday I gathered some of my friends to take photos for an ad I want to run in the newspaper for an Adults Creative class. It was great fun putting on the music and having a dance. None of my pals, who are of a certain age, have danced professionally but the love of moving has continued and in some has gathered momentum as they have got older. It is such a sweet release to give yourself up to the music particularly with a supportive group of like minded people. Here's to dancing FOREVER!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Plies and Tendus

I'm missing dancing! Not even a week into holidays and I feel as if I am wired and need to get rid of all the energy I usually use up teaching. Also over the past term I have been taking two Ballet classes a week which I am missing too.

For various reasons my Ballet education was very sporadic as a child and it wasnt until my early 20's that I took Contemporary classes. Unfortunately it was a bit late to make it in the dance world so I turned to painting instead. When my daughter started Creative Dance 25 yrs ago I thought "this is what I really want to do" and I began to dance seriously. But the fantasy ballerina still exists inside me and when these wonderful teachers started teaching adults in my home town I jumped at the chance. I feel like a muscian who has learnt to play by ear but decides to learn to read music. It is not easy, I am an oldish woman (62) now and the brain and body are not always in sync but I love the challenge. Doing plies and tendus makes me feel as if I am 6 years old again and I just can't wait to start the next term!

What do you do to keep your inner child alive? I would love to hear.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Relaxing is not easy even on holidays!

I'm finally on holidays. All family, friends and social events have been seen to and we are home alone. I settle down with a book. How long before I start thinking about dancing? About 30 minutes! Then I am into the book shelves to leaf through long forgotten buys from Op Shops and second hand book barns where I can never resist checking to see if there is some little treasure. Often these books were published as long ago as the 60's and repeat material I am already familiar with but sometimes being reminded of the obvious is just as valuable as finding something new.

Recently I read on Maria Hanley's blog on Move. Create. Educate. about placing dots on the floor in a line of pairs for young dancers to learn about skipping down the centre as the waiting dancers move up the lines to their turn. I tried worked well...then added weaving down the lines and side skipping in a zig zag between the dots which is an old favorite. Mmmmm....... a bit complicated in the end for some but with practise it is amazing how quickly the dancers pick it up. And interesting how different groups have different levels of focus. Not only when the same age but older children sometimes have more difficulty than younger ones.

Do you have favorite books you use for inspiration? I would love to hear about them.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The holidays have begun

Inspite of a difficult week (see previous post) we had some great moments this week. The class had a lot of elements loosely attached to the theme of the garden. Birds in nests who loved to keep their homes clean with little brushes, cats, frogs, mysterious eggs which hatched strange creatures. Now to holidays and having the time to start thinking in detail about the performance in November.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

One of those weeks

Well it has been that sort of week! Arriving at the hall I find scaffolding bits and pieces cluttering up the space..sort that out...then the cherry picker being used to paint the church next to the hall starts its compressor....mmmm. Children tired and excited because it is last week of term. Some 4 year olds have 4 year old issues...friends, new siblings arriving and other such things. Some one decides to mow the lawn during the 1st morning class shattering the atmosphere. No one turns up for one 2 1/2 year old class and I'm not sure what will happen next term. The joys of being a dance teacher! But there ARE joys. Once focus and harmony have been restored beautiful dancing and happy faces as they jump out the door. Do you have weeks from "hell". What are your stories? I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Young choreographers at work

Over past couple of weeks my older students have been beginning to choreograph small pieces in preparation for the hard work of developing work for our performance in November. Each week a different dancer leads a group and this has been very valuable experience both in realizing what is required to make dance but even more importantly what is required to take direction. When a dancer finds their group difficult to manage because of talking or generally mucking around hopefully there is a realization that they too need to be focused when being directed. All up it has been a delight to watch busy engaged young people creating beautiful movement. Do you have any strategies for engaging focus? Do you have choreographic ideas that consistently work for you? I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St Patrick's Day and all things green

I always enjoy making a class around a special day or event. Of course St Patrick's Day is perfect with Leprechauns (photo above is of a design activity where students put jewels on the Leprechaun's cape), snakes (St Patrick apparently banished the snakes from Ireland), bogs to slip over and get stuck in as well as arms held at the sides and fast foot work as in River Dance. More complicated ideas come from Celtic Knot patterns which provide great inspiration for traveling directions across the floor for older students. All this to great music. What is there not to love? Do you have dance activities for special days? I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wonderful Teenagers

Last night I was knocked out by my Teenagers class. That 10 young people can trust each other so much (and me for that matter) to create such beautiful shape and movement bowls me over. I felt very emotional watching might have just been the music of course though I suspect not. I wish we had filmed the class but this can change the atmosphere and make some dancers self conscious when they are improvising. Amanda and I feel so privileged to see such beauty week after week.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rain, rain and more rain

Strange week..heaps of rain and low temps plus the holiday on Monday has made me a bit dis-orientated. Good thing my good friend and colleague, Edna, had passed on to me a class she had done recently about a Cafe where the pappadams had been burnt. When she told me of the smoky atmosphere, the flying pappadams, the sparrows pecking at the crumbs between the tables it seemed delightful and I was inspired. In reality it took quite a few classes to get the flow happening where each activity lead to the next and the dynamics contrasted. (I added a dance of busy waiters who kept tripping over and dropping the cups and saucers in their haste...see the photo above for the "trays") This is fascinating to me. Often other teachers classes seem so imaginative and full of great ideas but when I try them out with my students something doesn't quite jell for me. I have to add and subtract, tweek and twist the story to find the connection. It is the same with music. I have often arrived at Edna's studio to collect props and been swept away by music she is using but in my studio it just doesn't have the same resonance. Does this happen to anyone else? I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vivaldi's Spaghetti Dance

It has been great fun attacking the "Housework" with everyone this week. As one of the dances we cook spaghetti. I use Vivaldi's 4 Seasons Concerto, Winter, Allegro non molto for this as it is very descriptive of the movement qualities I want the dancers to explore...stiff walking to the pot, dropping into the pot, becoming softer and rising in the pot as the spaghetti cooks before boiling over. The spaghetti then flies around the kitchen, throws itself against the wall before sliding down to the floor and being swept away to begin again. Even my wonderfully "cool" teens used it as warm up to the class. Does any one have a piece of music that they build a story around? I would love to hear from you!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Class notes

Busy weekend...thank goodness for all those classes I have kept notes of over the years. Why did Housework jump out at me when I flicked through? Perhaps because I feel guilty about doing so little recently. So we will dust, polish and wash. As for the older classes we will explore our personal space and then change its shape, extend it, compress it, attach ourselves to a partner and generally dance up a storm.

Friday, February 26, 2010

This was our set up for the younger classes this week. They love these dragon flies and balancing them on fingers, toes, head etc. Great for inspiring swooping, soaring and resting too. Thank you Delwyn for the great photos.