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 Post subject: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2001 3:16 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
As a teacher I know you are all interested in teaching correctly, teaching with care both for the dance and the dancer, but here is another issue:<P>How do you get your students to dance large?<P>To cover space?<P>To "give the dance away" to the very last seat in the upper balcony? <P>To convey the love - and passion - that they feel inwardly - how do you teach them to portray it outwardly?


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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2001 1:08 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2000 12:01 am
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Location: Virginia
This is an interesting post, Basheva. I don't think I can answer your question, but I will be back to comment. Image


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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2001 3:36 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: Canberra, Australia
I can't answer this properly but my teacher often tells us to use up as much space as possible - to make every movement as big as possible to fill the room and move with the music. She also says that an ugly person (ugly on the inside of course!) can never be a great dancer no matter how well they master technique, because every movement is an expression of YOU and you need to express that to the maximum in your movement. Hmmm. Having read over that it doesn't sound too sensible, but it certainly helps in practice.


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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2001 3:39 pm 
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Location: Virginia
I have always found that my teachers tell us to put everything into dancing because many of us dance to express ourselves. If we draw back or are shy when we dance, what is the point? To make the audience feel us, not just see us, we have to throw ourselves into the dance and don't dance it, be it. One of my teachers tells me all the time that I can do better than I am, even when she hasn't seen me do so, just to get me to jump higher or farther or smile bigger and shine more. I hope this helps answer your question Basheva. Image<BR>-Zoe<p>[This message has been edited by Zoe (edited January 07, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2001 5:01 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 130
Location: Pa, USA
I don't use the words "big" or "large" when I ask students to express themselves fully. I have a tendency to ask them to focus on the quality of work and to ask them to make me WANT to watch them, to draw my eye to the quality of their work/craft; to make me cry with the beauty of the arm. (Yes, I really say those things in class *S*) I want them to almost be absorbed by themselves so that the audience wants to "go" where they are at. <P>Right before the holiday break I had a student keep the plie/arm/head/everything in constant motion (correctly) during a barre exercise and I asked the entire class to watch her, it was just breath-taking; I literally could not make corrections to others because my eye kept going back to watch her movement--that is what I want each of my students to get--that place where they ARE the plie, and all the extras fall into place like magic--when that magic happens onstage, the last row of the audience feels it too.


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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2001 7:11 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Jan, I think, perhaps, we have two different thoughts here - <P>In a previous thread - I wish I could remember the name of it - we discussed at some length as I recall it the seamless quality that you are talking about here, Jan. Making the seams between the movements disappear - and the dancing emerging as a whole. And, you are right - this is so very important. As you said you literally can't take you eyes of such a dancer.<P>But, in this particular thread I am thinking of covering space - ground - swallowing up the studio/stage. A dancer has to do that too. Sometimes women especially find that hard to do. It is more in the way of men to move in a large way. It comes more naturally to them. The ballerina, Maya Plisetskaya, was particularly wonderful at covering ground - and yet she could be as delicate as any other woman. <P>I used to love to go down the diagonal with the men (when it was possible) because it really made me <B>move</B>. <P>How do you inspire your dancers/students to really cover ground - to possess the stage?


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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2001 9:17 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
It would depend what on level/stage/age of students we were talking about. It's a difficult concept to get in to people's heads if they don't ever see it--having someone get across the floor faster than you or jump higher than you can be an eye opener; sometimes you need to see someone do it to spark that. I remember going to my first professional class around age 15 and feeling literally blown away by the power of the other dancers.<P>I guess you could challenge students to try to not repeat a phrase on the diagonal, i.e., make it big enough to cover the distance. Or you could encourage it in exercises like saute de basque which is a travelling step but often not treated like that by younger dancers. I guess smallness comes out of trying to be precise in execution of technique. I danced in university with a girl that I secretly called the "music box dancer" because that's what she was, tiny and small about everything. I'm not a teaching expert by any means but as a student I know how frustrating it can be when a class seems to take on that smallness, seemingly as a group mind. You need someone to break that pattern because there can be a tendency for the group to try to keep it controlled and predictable--what does that say about dance as mirror for our society, lol?


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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2001 10:24 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2000 12:01 am
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Location: Australia
jan - i think i get your point - and i agree, that when one is drawn to watch - by whatever quality - that works!<P>in the case of basheva's question, it seems to me, you are saying to your students, that if they move in a way which will atract and keep your focus, they have achieved the aim - and big broad ample generous movement DOES attract and hold the eye.

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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2001 6:47 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 130
Location: Pa, USA
I see what you are getting Basheva *S* still, I don't use the word "big" in my classes--I will say "higher" especially for leaps, but in order to really get my students to cover the space in across the floor combinations, I tend to ask them to go from one corner to the next in one eight--or see how few of a specific step there can be to get from each corner. <P>Regardless of the size of the movement I still want to see a dancer lose themselves in it; and then they will dance larger than themselves whether the actual step is grande or petite *S* I don't want students to lose the quality of their movement and perhaps that is why I stay away from "big" and "large" as it sometimes seems to me that then the step is just more exagerated (sp?) and the refinement is lost in place of an almost harshness. <P>I think in learning to use all the space around them, students first need to feel a level of trust within a studio/stage setting; that they can give their all away and not be ridiculed for their effort in doing so. There must be a good foundation for using ALL the space around them as well--doing steps in non-traditional ways helps this along. Chaines where you spot where you came from as opposed to where you are going/trying leaps backwards, doing combinations not facing the mirrors but facing different walls; dancing until you actually hit a wall or a person. Teachers who allow students to always face the mirror or always "finish" across the floor combinations may be doing students a dis-service as the student never learns to let go or to be without a mirror.


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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2001 8:41 am 
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I had a teacher who would stand at the other end of the studio and tell us this is where we need to be by count 8, or he would demonstrate the combination and say 'you need to get to this corner and then this corner, use the whole studio. We have the space, use it!' We also had a guy in class who was great at traveling across the floor and using the whole studio and I agree with you Basheva, I loved going across with him because I would push myself to keep up!


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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2001 10:22 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
It intrigues me that no one yet has mentioned (unless I missed it- then please forgive me) using the music to do this?<P>Of providing music that will sweep the dancer/student along - beyond what they normally would do. To me that was the first thing I thought of with my students........because it does it to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2001 10:43 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
When I was in college, there was a neighborhood famous for small Italian bistros. One had an annex called "La Cantina." Every weekend a Serbian (I know - it's make a lotta sense) trio would play folk music. This got to be the HOT SPOT for the dance department. Once when a teacher was having difficulty getting people to move with fire in their butts, he simply started yelling, "La Cantina!" It worked. Feel free to use it if it helps.<P>Also -- when I was teaching grand jetes to pre-teens, and they got into that funny Fred Flintstone run that so many students do, pumping their little fists before flinging themselves with abandon into some bizarre leap and suffering whiplash in the process, I wanted to make them think of going UP and landing in a well-placed plie, so I started saying, "Step, step -- oops, dog poo!" It elicited a more sane, well-placed jete, with a grin to boot. Haven't copyrighted this - so feel free to use it if it helps, unless of course, Mr. Vorielli is reading this. I wouldn't share anything with that skinflint famous for all of his broken, unspoken promises.


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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2001 12:06 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 122
Location: Dortmund, NRW, Germany
I just called LA CANTINA in my class. It didn't worked. What did I wrong?<P>In another posting I mentioned already that I'm teaching in Germany and in the Netherlands. In "using Space" there is always an difference between the German and the Dutch students.<BR>Perhaps it's known, but the Dutch are seafarer and they love to move across diagonal. This is true, no joke, German Students don't like that at all! So I always had this problem. Dutch were asking: "let's go across the diagonal", German: "oh no!"<BR>German loves to move move on the spot, having an own territory.<P>There are more cultural differences like Dutch students like to improvise (that makes movements larger), German like to copy (makes movements smaller)<P>Music is working Basheva that's right. That works also here. The same with costumes. A skirt sometimes let them jump much higher.<P>What about working at a combination - rest a few weeks - and dig it up. That works sometimes, especially when a student has to teach this combination.<P>In NYC it works when a stranger is watching class (it couls be an agent), so Basheva: ask your father (Onkel, Neigbour, Milkman) to come along and tell your students he is looking for some dancers Image<P>But I still think when students feel save and believe in what they are doing it will grow and will become bigger and bigger.<P>I'm sure it's already said, but "working in groups", "working upstage" might help.<P>Sometimes I ask them to do the combination small, normal and large. They feel the difference. Or I let them do it with "Eyes closed", that could work


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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2001 2:04 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
I might have been a little 'flip' the first time I responded in this thread. <P>In all seriousness, here are some things I've learned over the years as a teacher. <P>1. The wee-est children did far better in our small studio, which I referred to for them as the "cubby." They behave much better when there is less room for wandering. And, no matter what exercise you give, them seem to like to dance on top of each other. When I first began my teaching career as an assistant, I said "Gee, can you get any closer to one another?" which cracked up the director. At 3 or 4, I don't try to get them to move 'big,' but rather to learn how to create a circle and not close it in, how to stand in line with enough space but putting their arms straight out in front of themselves and not be touching one another (same concept with arms to the side in a circle or a horizontal line). We did do a "putting the baby to bed" routine where they had to mimic the movement of going up the stairs while also counting to 8, one count per step. And when they go to the ball as Cinderella, they always go the powder room first to "make repairs" -- while in the powder room, I spray rose water in a corner of the room and have them run across the room (daintily) to let the perfume shower down on them (thereby teaching them not grow up smelling like the women who suffocate me in the elevator of my office building).<P>2. At 5 and 6, in a much larger studio, we learn forward, backward and diagonal. As a journalist/dancer, I love to teach words, and "diagonal" is a doozy for little kids. I always positioned myself at the point of the room I wanted them to dance to, so as not to cheat the space. They ended up plowing into me with a hug around my abdominal area. I told them it was a nice gesture but I might want to have kids some day, so cut it out. I often adjusted the tempo and they grasped the concept of slower music, bigger movement, and vice versa. One way to teach covering space was to just get in there with them, run across the room for each child (whew!) face them, take both hands, and away we went -- wheeeeee! You must be young and full of vigahhh for that.<P>3. Here's a story that, I think, depicts why it's harder to get older students to 'move big.' One of my theme dance stories for pre-school students was "going to the skating rink" which included rising out of bed, yawning, stretching, putting on snowsuit, boots, mittens, and a long, long scarf, going out the door, stopping to make angels in the snow, going to the rink, taking off the boots, putting on the skates, skating, going back to the warming house and inserting our dimes for hot cocoa. Well, I thought it would be funny one Saturday morning to demonstrate "on the ice" those jumps Mr. Vorielli used to refer to as "soda boxes," and watch their little startled faces. But guess what? They just began doing these jumps, without hesitation, as if I had asked them to pick up their toys or drink their juice. Sometimes they fell on their little rears and just got up and began doing them again. They laughed, they squealed, they screamed, "Watch me!" Why? Because NO ONE HAD EVER TOLD THEM IT WAS DIFFICULT OR THAT THEY COULDN'T DO IT. Talk about dancing big and covering space ... The joke was on me, the adult. <P>I think that's the main reason students are reluctant to move big. As we get older we are more self conscious. "What if I do it wrong? What if someone laughs at me?" <P>That's why "La Cantina!" worked -- when we danced socially, we did it for FUN. <p>[This message has been edited by Christina (edited January 08, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Dancing In a Big Way
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2001 5:19 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
I often told my students that feeling the "wind in your hair" actually feeling the air on your face as one dances at speed - in a ground/air eating way, through the diagonal was an exciting experience. <P> Once I had gotten them to feel that - the euphoric delight of really moving - they were addicted. The shyest flower in the room responded. But it was all rooted in the music. Big expansive music instills that delight, that need to move, to join the music. It is the push and the pull. It is what makes one hover in the air - and explode out of the corner.<P>I can't conceive of it happening in any other way. For me, and the students it was my joy to teach, the need took root in the music.


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