THIS WEEK'S SPOTLIGHT: Dance
Our dancers have been hard at work creating at home and at school. We hope you enjoy some images of this work as well as a few short clips of the choreography they have been dancing.
Have a wonderful week!
Megan Neelis, Arts Director
Upcoming Arts events & contests
The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts and Trombone Shorty Foundation are once again combining efforts and sponsoring a Visual Art & Songwriting Contest with the theme Alone Together: Art in the time of Pandemic. The contest is open to high school juniors and seniors and shares $25,000 of scholarship money among 13 finalists. The deadline for submissions is February 21, 2021.
The Willow Street Campus
First grade has been learning different dance vocabulary. We talked last week about isolations and focusing our movements to one body part.
Second and Third grade classes were working in small groups to create phrases of movement based around one particular theme. Inspired by our class location, 2nd grade worked around the theme of "Outdoors," while third grade worked around the theme of "Kids."
Fourth grade learned about famous Latinx dancers and choreographers and explored different dancing styles to different Latinx music.
Fifth grade learned about different elements of social identities and created pieces that celebrated elements of their own personal identity. Those that wanted to, shared with their class in an informal presentation.
The Middle School
The Middle School students watched videos of multiple cultural dances. Upon finishing the series, they then chose one of the dances to learn more about. They completed research, learning more about the costumes, music and lighting of the piece, as well as the culture and food of the region. Here is a collection of what a few learned.
CA DANCE LEVEL 1
This semester, the Level 1 students have been working with Ms. Healan in both ballet and modern. The foundation of classical ballet is working with “turned out” legs, which is not entirely natural for our bodies. Our focus for this semester has been to progress slowly and methodically through fundamentals to develop the correct alignment and musculature needed to support this way of dancing.
In Modern, we are learning how to move efficiently and dynamically. We explore concepts such as suspension and release, fall and recover, movement and breath initiation, the head/tail connection, and “taking up space” when we dance. Ms. Healan has been developing a dance for the students based entirely on these movement concepts.
CA DANCE LEVEL 2
In Level 2 Ballet, students are developing correct body placement and alignment. Just to stand correctly in ballet requires so many complicated actions! A dancer must think: “… long neck, chin level, press my shoulders down and back, kneecaps lifted, pull up through my hips, ribs in, belly in, tailbone down, stand on the balls of my feet, put my shoulders over my hips, lift the arches of my feet, rotate my legs from my hips….” Overload! So we must train our bodies mindfully and carefully until correct standing alignment is embedded in the muscle memory.
Level 2 students are also learning to coordinate the movements of their arms and head. Dancers train their arms to move fluidly through basic positions to develop their “port de bras” or “carriage of the arms.”
Ms. Healan is also working with the 2s on a piece inspired by the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. The dancers represent Eurydice, stuck in the underworld for eternity, waiting for her beloved Orpheus to come down to rescue her. We are working on finding a weighted, sluggish, mournful quality to the dancing.
In Ms. Buckel's Level 2 technique class, dancers work to improve not only their technical proficiency but also work to develop musicality, commitment to movement and exploration of choreography
Cait Groh and Carsyn Caldwell demonstrate in-class choreography
In this video, Felicia Valadie and Madeline Heyman demonstrate a contemporary progression
CA DANCE LEVEL 3
Level 3s are expanding their “movement vocabulary” in ballet, which means learning new and more complicated movements. Now that the fundamentals of alignment and placement have been trained into muscle memory, the students can enjoy more use of their arms, heads, and “epaulment,” or “shouldering,” which creates beautiful lines for the body.
Level 3s are also working to develop higher leg extensions. In our stretch exercise, the dancer must maintain correct alignment in her body and simultaneously lift her leg above her hip. Not easy!