Last week I wanted to try out some of the warm-up sequences we learnt during our contemporary class to work on technique and then again give the pupils an opportunity to be creative.
This time I used the handout with the text phrases. For example, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and “illuminate your partner.” I had hoped this would be really positive but many of the pupils had done it before. They did create some great movement but I was disappointed it wasn’t new to them. From now on I am going to take what we learn and adapt it so that it is completely unique.
Every Monday after school I teach an after school dance group. The group is completely optional and there are no requirements to come along other than some enthusiasm for dance! Up until March we usually work on a few routines for the annual High School dance show but after Easter I sometimes find it difficult to know what to do. This class then seems like the perfect opportunity to try out some of the creative exercises we have been doing with Yvonne….
The first week we spoke about lots of different types of movement and then used the ‘six squares’ idea. Get 6 squares, write the numbers 1-6 on them and on the other side 6 travelling movements. We repeated the exercise with 6 jumps and with 6 turns and then asked three people to pick a number between 1-6: “2, 3, 5.” Pupils now had to create a sequence with these moves. I then had them work in pairs to combine their sequences, then join pairs to make a 4 and again join sequences. The pupils had a lot of fun but we didn’t do the same thing the following week and on reflection I should have followed up on this activity.
I will see it as a practice of ‘being creative’ rather than a perfect lesson!
Some food for thought for competitive highland dancers. Doing some of these things may prevent some of the problems I hope to look into as part of my practitioner enquiry research….
I particularly agree with number 8 as I supplemented highland with ballet, jazz and street styles over the years and was a much better dancer for it.
This weekend I have had some time to reflect on the new module – Context and Culture in Dance – and the work we have undertaken so far in our practical sessions.
We started our first session by looking at Laban Analysis which is a method and language for describing, visualising, interpreting and documenting all varieties of human movement. It originates from the work of Rudolf Laban and is based around the basic principles of actions, space, dynamics and relationships. This is a good way to encourage pupils to start to think about creating their own new and unique movement phrases.
We use LABAN analysis in S3 when pupils start their National Progression Award level 4. It works as stimulus for how pupils might start to create their own choreography sequences and gives them the start of a theoretical understanding of analysis. This works well in my classroom/studio environment and just as done in the picture above can be completed as a group activity. With a thorough understanding of LABAN analysis pupils feel more confident when beginning their own choreography.
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I have wanted to explore this for some time as I highlighted it as a potential problem faced by competitive highland dancers in my research project and have been suffering from a long term injury myself. This is now having a knock-on impact on my Context and Culture in Dance module.
I looked up an article this evening which had some interesting thoughts on the impact of injuries on athletes:
“An injury is a traumatic experience for anyone who has devoted a lot of time and energy to fitness and recreational achievements.” (Ball, 2002)
I agree strongly with this as I first suffered a bad injury to my foot six years ago when I was competing at a relatively high standard. Although I recovered and was able to compete again it was always much harder work and I was tentative at times when before the injury I would have experimented. In the last two years my foot injury has come back and I have had to retire from competitive highland dancing. Although I still perform when I can I have not even been able to attend a competition class for nearly a year and feel my self-esteem has been affected as highland dancing was what I considered I was good at and now I don’t even have that. Some of the research suggests that this then affects a person’s ability to recover…
“The psychological factors that contribute to injury are viewed primarily as stress-related…(There is) a direct relationship between life stresses and injury rate.” (Williams and Andersen, 1998)
If competition itself is stressful does this make competitive highland dancers more prone to injury than other non-competitive dancers?
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross discusses psychological reactions to exercise and athletic injuries as having a five-stage grief response: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and reorganisation.
This is an interesting way of viewing injuries and I certainly recognise some of these feelings. It may be important to add a research question to my project looking directly at these responses.
“When a person’s self-concept is almost entirely tied to exercise goals or athletic success, the self-concept will assuredly suffer in the face of an injury…Many athletes…who suffer a lengthy injury experience decreases in self-esteem and self-worth and increases in anxiety and depression.” They fear the embarrassment or ridicule they associate with poor performance. (Eldridge, 1983)
I agree particularly with the last statement as this fear of failure comes hand-in-hand with the competitive environment and is something I highlighted already in my project proposal and is something I look forward to investigating further.