Tuesday, June 16, 2015

... and one more — ballet!

Wow — it's been more than a month! I always say the school year is like a marathon, and the last month is the sprint at the end of the marathon… what with performance season and all, I just plain ran out of time for writing. So I'll use some of the summer to recap what I would have written over the last month or so, in the best chronological order I can…

Our last dance form of the year was ballet, which I usually introduce to my beginners with the world dance forms in spring semester, as classical dance of Europe. This is the one that surprised me, when I polled students in the fall about which forms they most wanted to learn – so many students are interested in ballet! I always think of teens as more focused on hip hop and more flamboyant forms (like Samba); but they seem to be almost universally fascinated with Polynesian dances, and also ballet – I have to keep reminding myself that teenage girls (the vast majority of my students, of course) really want to look pretty, and they do think of ballet that way…

We of course finally got the chance to use the ballet barres for barre work every day — really just pliés, relevés, tendus and rondes de jambes, since classes are so short — and it was a delight to see how diligently they concentrated on their work at the barre! Then I set a dance to an instrumental piece by Ludovico Einaudi. I was surprised that many students seemed to recognize it — some asked me "was that song in a movie?" (of course, since I am entirely not attuned to pop culture, I had absolutely no idea).

Since we were only studying ballet for two-three weeks, I made the dance a fairly simple waltz, with one section of passés, pas de bourées, and port de bras; one of chainé turns and pas de chats; and some chassé-arabesque sautés. Since we had run out of time for a choreography project on choreographic forms, I also set the first section in canon form and the second section in antiphonal / call-and-response form, to at least begin to get across those concepts.

The students were for the most part completely enchanted with learning classical ballet — when it came time to sign up for dances to perform at the dance showcase (more about that later), more students wanted to perform ballet than almost any other dances (except for the Polynesian forms). Of course their technique was not perfect yet (lots still had to think hard about pointing their feet), but they worked very hard on the form. I think I will start the second-level classes with ballet next year!

No comments:

Post a Comment