The past few weeks have been a whirl – preparing for a major field trip and a dance festival as well as choreographing for the school musical (more about all of those later) – which is why I have not had a lot of time to write lately… so I will have to catch up and write in retrospect!
So, over the last few weeks…
We first did a short unit on Baile Folklórico, specifically the dance La Botella from Michoacán. I learned this one at EOSA (my previous dance program) when we had a guest specialist in Folklórico. It’s a good dance for a barefoot dance floor, since the dances from Michoacán are done in bare feet, and it is fun to learn – students generally get a kick out of the “borracho” step, since the Spanish-speakers (many, in my classes) get to explain to everyone else that it means “drunk.” Of course then I have to explain to everyone that it is called that because it tilts from side to side, not because of anything else that might happen in the course of the dance!
Next we worked on Central African / Congolese – another dance form I had learned from an expert from Dimensions Dance Theater who guest-taught my classes at EOSA for a number of years. The rhythm I usually start the beginners on is called Zebola, which is a healing dance and involves a call-and-response chant at the beginning – always a good way to introduce call-and-response form.
Both of these dances I introduce with the standard disclaimer – “I am not truly an expert in this form, but I have learned this dance from someone who is, and I would like to share it with you" — in the spirit of that perennial question of how expert does one really need to be to authoritatively teach a dance form... My default position is that I don't feel truly comfortable as an authority unless and until I have studied and performed a form for years if not decades — so the disclaimer is helpful for me, to be able to share forms that I think my students would enjoy at least a taste of.