We finished the Shapes project last week — using symmetrical and asymmetrical group shapes, transitions, and various levels, danced to amorphous background music. The last journal entry before Thanksgiving break asked students to reflect on their experience creating a dance starting from still shapes rather than steps to music, and whether it helped them to discover anything new about dance. This is often a difficult project for high school dancers — so many students think of dance as what they see on music videos, and the idea of creating a dance that is not responding to a particular song is completely foreign to them. Even so, I found almost universally positive responses in the journal entries — here is a small sample:
"I did discover new ways of dance forms. Dance really just expands further and further..."
"This project was interesting for me because I never really had to create shapes in a choreography before... [it] helped me learn that there is more to dance than just steps."
"I'm used to fluid, constant movements to the beat of a song — it was almost eye-opening trying to come up with this choreography. It made me realize that dance isn't all about the leaps and turns. I always forget that dance is a form of creativity and not always a competitive sport."
"Every dance that I saw was beautiful. The dances reminded me of nature... Like the wind, trees, and so on. Every dance was unique and original. I discovered that there can be a dance to anything, whether it's the wind blowing in the trees or a song."
Hooray for minds opened to new ways of making dance!