A really positive two weeks here! I have successfully created this issue of DANNI to be sent out in the middle of March. At first it seemed an awfully large project, but thanks to the detailed guide, I managed to collate the first sections in a morning at the office. I have also found that I am much quicker and more efficient when it comes to posting on the social media sites. I now schedule posts for 3 days ahead- knowing if it will be busy that day, or I will be out of office.
The sessions at Mayfields School in Torquay are proving to be really successful! The children seem much more confident and able to ask us what they would like to do! They have their favourite exercises and seem to work in a more focused manner, now that they are used to us. This week, Clare asked me to lead an exercise which I planned meticulously the day before. I decided that we would try to do some ‘Mirroring’ exercises, as these are challenging, unpredictable and can easily be used as a choreographic material for a performance. Most of the children found it engaging and fun! There were lots really thought out dance moves being shown, and lots from the session, including floor-work which they are not so keen on.
During Attik this week, we mind mapped lots of themes that were important to the group, and what they thought would make an interesting subject matter. There were so many ideas: Nature, Under the sea/Finding Nemo, Melting Plastic, Yin & Yang, The Weather, Life & Death, Individual movement, Star signs and The Elements were just a few. They had so many ideas to go with each of their themes, but Ben stopped them from describing exactly how the dance would be or look. He stated that aside from the presentation of the theme, the construction was to be found through movement, not from speech. This way of thinking was new to many of the young people. The way in which Ben works with the group, is that there is no ‘end’ sense of the piece. The ideas are explored through movement tasks, then end products of that may or may not be used in the piece. The tasks are then stitched together to create a performance. This way of working encourages a more open-ended process.
Ben suggested that the creation process was like the four elements;
Air-You have an idea
Water-You begin to verbalise the idea and start to planning tasks to do with it.
Earth-You decide through your tasks, what the idea is. You ground it.
Fire- You perform the idea.
I decided to apply this to my choreography and I realised that I had completely skipped the ‘water’ element. I only ever verbalised my idea when it was absolutely necessary. I began to plan tasks on the idea I had had in the first stage, and subsequently had not allowed my dancing and my piece to evolve.
One of the most exciting opportunities I have had these past two weeks was to volunteer at the U.Dance regional event at Bath University. It was a wonderful experience and I feel I gained a lot of knowledge and skills in the short time I was there. A huge amount of planning went into the day, organising approximately 120 young people for different activities, workshops and technical schedules. There were two workshops in street dance and locking as well as African dancing. There was also a brilliant Dance in a Day, where the youth groups all learnt a piece of choreography, had time to make their own dance out of it and to put it together with everyone, in a massive site-specific performance for the audience to watch before they went into the theatre to see the show. It was fantastic to see the talent and the dedication of all the dancers!
My role as a volunteer was to guide my four groups to the studios where the various workshops were, and to assist them on and off stage in their technical rehearsals. I have to say that because of the sheer amount of children, it was often quite hard to stop groups from clashing when coming in and out of spaces. I found that in this situation, I was much more assertive, than I would be most of the time-especially when trying to coax groups of the stage for their rehearsal, as they only had a limited time of twenty minutes. By the end of the day, everyone was exhausted, really sweaty, but most of all happy.