The last two weeks at FAIR I became more comfortable disciplining and teaching the children, and I enjoyed it a lot more. Showing videos at the beginning and discussing dance was very helpful for the rest of the lesson.
Here is what I showed them:
Monday: Oatka Trail (1979) by Garth Fagan
Tuesday: Oyster (1991) by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak
Thursday: Lines Cubed (2012) by Jessica Lang
Friday: Bleu! by Compagnia TPO
Overall, I think the kids enjoyed Oyster and Lines Cubed the most. The kids constantly surprised me, both with what they picked up on and what they didn’t. I continually had to redirect the conversation back to a discussion of the movement, rather than simply the costuming, set, props, or lighting elements. I think that movement is more abstract a concept than these other, more spectacular elements, and therefore harder for kids to grasp at a glance. But overall it worked well to use part of class time to go over some basic dance history and then to use that to jump start the rest of the lesson. I think that with slightly older kids it would have worked even better.
Interestingly to me, the Garth Fagan piece was more useful for teaching specific movements and dance vocabulary than many of the other pieces I showed, perhaps because of the way the clip is filmed, but also, as one of the older pieces out of of those I chose to show (choreographed in 1979), the movements Fagan created and used are slightly more codified and adhere to traditional ballet or modern vocabulary, and therefore were able to be picked apart and taught to young children. (Tangent: this reminds me that I want to research dance vocabulary in general, and by that I mean, the vocabulary of the dance world. Words like phrase, combination, front, vocabulary, technique, structure, composition, and so on and so on, get absorbed into our bodies and brains as young dancers, but do not always hold the same distinct meaning across disciplines, teachers, and students. So this is a reminder to self, for something I want to investigate inside teaching and choreography.)
During the third week I primarily used class time to build small dances for the kids’ Friday showing for the parents. Within these dances I used the same basic structure: partner entrances, a unison section, something else if the kids could handle it, then a finale type ending with solos, duets, or trios that the kids themselves choreographed. In the spirit of Halestone and Nancy Saylor, my early dance training, I let the kids create as much of the movement material as possible, and I just did the arranging.
In other news… I’m posting this update from my friend Madeline’s house in Seattle, as today is the first day of the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation, hosted by Velocity Dance Center, which I will be attending, and writing about here! Check back soon for more!