Class one explored several topics:
- Movement in space
- What is dance?
- Words associated with dance
Movement in space: This class included a lot of noticing the space of the room and the position of your body in the room. There was a lot of moving the desks, doing movmement activies en groupe (cross the classroom space, rotate in a circle 180 degreees, go back to your original spot, cross the room quickly, change your level in space, change your pathway, change your speed, stop/go, add a revolution to your body in space as you cross the room, cross the room to a different location, change your tempo while moving). These activities were peppered among conversations and teaching by Peter.
At one point a student exclaimed, "Oh, that's fun!"
What is dance? Peter introduced the concept of what is dance by talking about the choreographer he trained with, Alwin Nikolais (1910-1993) and the idea that all creatures move and that dance is the "sculpture of your body in space." He explained that the four big elements of dance are motion, space, time, and shape and prodded the students to define the difference between movement and motion.
After this mini-lecture, he got the students moving again for a longer period of time with more creative directions. I was impressed by how quickly the students' bodies seemed to gain fluidity after only a half an hour of movement. I could tell they sensed it, too.
The part I appreciated the most was how Peter would bring them back to focus by breath work. During the more frenetic momement activies, the students tended to laugh, talk, giggle--they were having a blast and that's great. But at times the volume got too high, and Peter would gently stop them and have them work in inhalation/exhalation. The room fell silent and it was as if I could feel a palpable calm swoop into the room like a fog. Lovely.
Words associated with dance: Lastly, Peter collected from the students all the types of dance they would think of as well as words associated with dance. He briefly talked about music's relation to dance, and how with contemporary dance the music can vary. He definied the word KINESTHESIA (to perceive movement) and broke that down for the students.
He concluded class with about 10 more minutes of movement. The students then pushed their desks back into the room, and he talked with him about a book that changed his life in college At Home in the World by the anthropologist Michael Jackson (no, not the pop icon!). He assigned them homework to observe people walking, pick three movments that they saw, and bring that information to class.