3 owners are walking/running their 7 dogs at the moment, the sun is warm, although the wind coming across the sea is cold, gently blowing the grass around me, the sea is calm, rolling in against the sand, that fresh air smell waking me up slowly, the second coffee isn't really helping as much as the fresh air. Two sounds can be heard, first is the sea rolling in gently lapping at the coast, the second is the 600+ students making their way too school for the day. Within that 130 of those are making their way to the main hall for rehearsals for the 3 performances this evening. The Dance Revue celebrates the dance courses and classes that take place at Caister and this year I was asked to work with 2 two groups, Year 7, 8 & 9 boys and year 7, 8 & 9 girls, creating two unique pieces. The day went incredibly smoothly and the three shows were brilliant with every group getting better and better each show. A massive thank you and well done to all the students and staff.
So, this weeks blog is going to be a rough look at the choreography process I take. I was taking notes all this week about what I could possibly write and ways that the process develops over the period of time I am with each group. This is a very brief look at what I wrote.
How to start a piece... I doubt I will ever be able to explain this really! Its a great and terrifying feeling all in one go, walking in and not being entirely sure on the piece you're going to end up with. With students of this age I will normal come with a block of choreography that I have created previously, it doesn't normally have a set theme or reasoning behind it. We will work through some technique exercises to get the students ready and then the first thing I will teach will be that routine. As the students learn the routine this is where the ideas begin to develop, as I ask the students what they're thinking about during the routine, what they see the ideas as, then we begin to develop the timing, the intention behind the movement. Its an incredibly exciting process to see how the students feedback develops the movement I have created. Once the students have learnt this part, they're set off into groups, duets or solos to create a short piece of movement based around the ideas that they've created and to use movement from the routine they've learnt. This process will then be repeated and developed several times to introduce more choreographic devices and make sure all the students are on the right track. During this time I work with each group to help push them forward and develop the movement further, I will also begin to create a second phrase of movement that will normally create an intro to the piece as well.
One of the big challenges for the students is the fact I don't come in with a piece of music set, this is also a challenge for me and I try and limit the amount of times I play with the piece of music during the process just to avoid confusion when performing. As you have hopefully seen, if not scroll back through the previous blogs, my iPad is filled with albums of all music that the majority of the kids call weird, but, I think it adds to the process to allow students to learn new music and expand their knowledge. As the time progresses we recap and develop and learn new material continually expanding the movement. Depending on the time I have with the students, this will set how far each day progresses and the goals that are set out. But I will normally try to get the choreography set as early as possible to allow the students enough time to feel comfortable and confident with their performance.
There is a million other steps in the process but, one of the final steps that the students particularly love is fidget runs... I'm sure we all do these, but the discipline and respect it teaches students is undeniable. It takes an age to get it right with the younger groups as the often don't realise just how much extra they do when they thing they are stood still. But eventually through the process they learn to just perform and be in the moment of the piece and enjoy the performance and become stronger and better dancers than they think they're capable of.
So thats a quick look into the choreographic process when in schools. It's such a fun process and seeing the students take ownership of the work is always something I find really rewarding. This week is still catching up from the snow and at last having an energise de-brief meeting on Monday. 2019 prep begins tomorrow!