This week's prompt reminded me of a project I worked on as an undergraduate. The assignment required students to create a film project that skewed perception. Starting at 2:10, the project video depicts a series of phrases performed solely by the lower half of the leg. Utilizing Laban’s concept of ‘body parts’, the piece takes on a playful tone. In consideration of teenagers with limited mobility, I designed an activity in which students could focus on one body part and create their own sequence.
To begin, participants will select a body part such as the hands, feet, shoulders, head, eyes, or spine. With or without a partner, the participant will outline a story or develop a concept as the baseline for their project. In my example video, I used the sisterly bond between the two performers as the foundation. To draft the choreography, the participants will generate a list of words as creative fodder. I elected to write down characteristics of the girls’ interactions. Then, participants will narrow the list down to three. I chose:
Guided by my selected phrases, I sat the girls in close proximity, included a section of unison, and added a cannon as a symbol for their shared mannerisms. The example shown below was inspired by this interpretation of friendship and composed of tap isolations.
Most significantly, focused emphasis on a singular body part allows participants to remain seated if necessary. Furthermore, honing in on one body part, especially if recording the piece, helps make the movement appear larger. Participants can then highlight the magnitude of their movement rather than focus on the fine motor skills they are incapable of completing. Adapting choreography into ‘body parts’ also allows participants to dance on different planes (i.e. a finger moonwalking up an IV pole). Liberty to select a body part and topic gives participant’s autonomy, and the story telling aspect allows opportunities for discussion. I also appreciate the accessibility of this activity because it is inclusive to dancers with limited technical vocabulary.
For students unable to generate movement phrases due to lack of dance knowledge, I would reference the table above. I created this form as a user friendly guide for Laban's 8 Efforts.
Rudolf Laban studied pedestrian movement by “analyzing worker motion efficiency in factory situations in London (Billingham, 2009).” From his initial observations stemmed the school of thought we now recognize as a codified method of recording dance as a notation. I feel it is a good starting point for beginning dancers. In my example video, a series of presses make up the choreography.
Billingham, L. (2009). The Complete Conductor's Guide to Laban Movement Theory. Chicago, IL: GIA Publications, Inc.