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 it..it 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 them...it 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!