...but I should!
I should at least once a year anyway.
Because they always teach me something!
This last week I had the pleasure of teaching at Accentz Dance Studio here in Vernon B.C. There were three different levels/ages of classes. One of the classes being younger than I usually teach. I walked in the first day and was quickly reminded how different it is teaching kids who are under 9 years old.
And by different I mean hard. Lol. I got back in the groove pretty quickly but definitely had to switch gears and remember all my tricks to keep them engaged.
In my classes last week we did some improv. Have I meantioned how important improv is for dancers before?! To some of you this might be news but to most of you this is close to the millionth time you've heard me say this. Get used to it, you'll hear it again.
IMPROV GIVES YOUR DANCING A HEARTBEAT!!!
Improvisation is the activity of making or doing something not planned beforehand, using whatever can be found. Improvisation in the performing arts is a very spontaneous performance without specific or scripted preparation.
Anyway, I had the oldest group of dancers first on this particular day. We warmed up, learned some choreography and tagged on improv at the end of the choreography. When learning choreography you become very familiar with the song (at least I would hope so!). The song is repeated so often that by the time you get to the last 10 - 15 minutes of class you should know it inside and out.
So here we are dancing our hearts out, it's the last couple minutes of class and we tag on the improv.
These dancers are 12-14ish years old and pretty heavily trained and dedicated. I'm watching the choreography, smiling, pumped and super happy with the way it's looking. And then the improv section comes....
There's a huge musicality change and nobody's dancing pivots to match it. And by musicality change I mean it goes from a slower lyrical feel to a huge down beat on the one when the chorus kicks in. The dancers danced as if they weren't hearing the same song I was. No change in movement whatsoever.
This is where the younger dancers come in....
In their class later on in the day I do an improv exercise. No choreography. I just use my improv wheel . I spin the wheel so they get a descriptive word to execute in their movement quality and I play a random song that they haven't heard before.
In this random song there is a huge musicality change....
THEY NAIL IT!!!!! They hear the change and pivot their movement to match!!
I was pleasently surprised to say the least. I couldn't help but smile and give a little chuckle. It reminded me that we need to listen and trust our insticts more as we get older. We're too much in our heads!!!!
When we are young and starting to dance we let the music move us. It just feels good and we dance from our heart and listen through our ears. There's no right or wrong it's just movement and its a beautiful thing.
When we get a little older, start learning right vs. wrong technique and get a little more self aware (or should I say conscious?), we start questioning ourselves. We hold back, stop listening to the music and instead listen to the thoughts in our head.
Unfortunately the thoughts in our head most of the time are , "oh crap, what am I going to do", "She's better then me.", "I can't do this", "I feel stupid"..... you get it. They're negative thoughts.
Dancers, you need to move to the music and not to your thoughts. The technique will come. The "rights" and the "wrongs" will come. Trust yourself and find those natural instincts again.
Just like anything, improv needs practice. I urge you to practice in the car, your room, walking down the hall, in the aisle of the grocery store... where ever you hear music playing.
A little progress each day adds up to big results.
Thank you to the beautiful little dancers I had the honour of teaching this week. You definitely opened my eyes to something beautiful and thought provoking which I love. Please don't stop listening to the music and dancing from your heart.