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.