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?