Sunday, 5 May 2013

Lecture, but not lectured

I went to the third meeting of the Imperial Tap and Modern Group for this year (sadly I missed the last two due to work commitments). This workshop was 'Approaches to choreography' with Melody Squires (

Melody did a course last year on teaching turns so I was looking forward to having her again this time. She's really down-to-earth, very creative and has a passion that oozes out of every pore!

She started the 2-hours with a sit down discussion and brought in books, that she finds invaluable, to share with us all - a kindred spirit to us BAPPers! (I have put two of the books in the references).
She then started to read to us (from one of the books) about Laban' Analysis of Movement, which she likened to the choreographic 'ingredients of a cake' (she likes cake!!).
Basically it's like the pick 'n' mix of creating a dance piece:
(Image from Dance Composition, p.19)

Melody then went on to demonstrate, with a fellow teacher, how things like mirroring, canon, question & answer, could be used to create interest in even the most seemingly basic of movements.

She then went on to read to us about the process of creating:

Beginning of Composition
Mode of presentation
Evaluation of improvisation
Selection and refinement
Then we learnt a piece that she'd choreographed that was inspired by the Emile Sande track 'Clown' and that drew on her knowledge and experiences of the circus (audible and visual stimuli). The following link is to a performance of the routine by a group of dancers @Pineapple:
We talked about ways to change and develop the group aspect of the choreography and how all the movements had a purpose - the tears of the sad clown (00.01), the clown car (00.10) and the custard pie in the face (00.18)...
We then moved on to a second routine, based on an idea that she had whilst working on a piece @Stagecoach, that involved the use of a newspaper as a prop (relationship to object). We then split into two teams to develop the solo choreography into a group piece. Our group played around with pattern, direction, timing and interaction but using the original choreography, whilst the other team had experimented with the theme of 'newspaper' and developed a piece of entirely new ideas and dance movements. This I found really interesting as it really highlighted how different people can interpret things in a variety of ways.
For the last part of the morning we sat down again and looked at how to evaluate a piece of choreography, as a whole and in parts (idea, relationships, motifs, etc.).
A really great morning that felt as if it had opened up new approaches to things like festival dances, exam dances and show numbers. However, and here is the main reason for writing this blog, I got the opportunity to use my 'new knowledge' much earlier than I could have anticipated...
I had an exam coaching class this afternoon in which I really wanted to help my students 'get a handle on' contrasting/ changing styles. Watching them perform the first of two amalgamations I suddenly remembered what Melody had read out about space - both size of performance area and extension in space. I began to talk to my students about how they could be aware of the studio space but that they should also develop an awareness of how much space they took up as a person, i.e. arms, levels, posture, etc. I went on to discuss how, in one of their dances, we (the audience) should be able to see and feel the space between and around them and, by contrast, the other dance should feel more condensed, tighter, like they were in a vacuum.
I then asked them to perform both dances with this in mind. A definite difference! :)
It just goes to show that there really is no end to the application of knowledge, whatever it may come originally labelled as!

Contemporaryjazz's channel: [Accessed 5th May 2013]
Maisel, E. (1995). Fearless creating: a step-by-step guide to starting and completing your work of art. Putnam.
Smith-Autard, J. M. (2010). Dance composition: A practical guide to creative success in dance making. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama.


No comments:

Post a Comment