In dance this year we have used our time in studio practice to develop skills and improve our technique. I joined the course with little dance training therefore one of my greatest weaknesses was muscle memory. Not feeling confident or understanding a step hinders musicality, enthusiasm and performance level. We did an exercise in which we tendu whilst changing the shape of our arms to improve co-ordination. This was the most challenging exercise as I struggled to retain the sequence. I found the best way to progress is through repetition, it felt like second nature after practicing at home daily.
In January we learnt a short Bob Fosse number and worked on his famous walk and hand positions. This all required a good muscle memory to learn and remember what felt unnatural. Fosse was famous for his unique dancing style that was influenced by his own strengths and weaknesses. The choreography appears simpler than it is. Fosse incorporates very precise hand positions into his routines along with subtle nuances, turned-in knees and curved shoulders which were a bizarre combination and made it tricky to learn. His style influenced the dance/musical theatre community as well as music videos by Michael Jackson and Beyoncé.
We also briefly looked at Jerome Robbins as a choreographer. He combines jazz and ballet to create his dynamic style. Learning the basics of influential Musical Theatre traditions/ styles in history is beneficial as it is introducing choreography that we may come across again in the future. The knowledge gained in the choreography was translated in the exercises. Robbin’s dancers keep low to the ground and travelled further which could be applied to ‘pas de bourree’s’.
Learning sequences was a lot harder to process than the dances that we performed; Hot Honey Rag, Paradise City. I felt this was because I had to remember how to properly execute a single movement before learning the sequence. Just being motivated in lesson makes it easier to pick up quick. I have learnt it is best to avoid the fear of doing it wrong and instead observe the demonstration, try, make mistakes and learn from them. I wish to keep improving my muscle memory as this would help me learn choreography quicker and also allow me to focus on other details in dance; performance and alignment.
Alignment is something I feel I’ve improved on this year. I was unaware how significant alignment of the body was and how much impact it had on the performance of an exercise. At first I often forgot to be aware of my alignment and lost control/ flailed about as a result. This became more evident when watching myself back on the class footage; I was able to identify where I was going wrong. In plié exercises the class were taught to turnout from the hip and to keep the knees over toes. It is also important to keep a good eyeline, extended neck and posture and work through the plié to make sure the balance is not lost. Plié’s are an important exercise in dance and developing technique; they are vital in all our travelling moves and jumping/ spring sequences.
The plié is the preparation needed to propel the jump higher and the only proper way to avoid injury when landing. They are also important for pirouettes. The quality of a pirouette is somewhat determined by how strong the plié is. To better understand the alignment we practiced our plié’s against a wall and repeated without the wall. We had to challenge ourselves to maintain good alignment without changing our posture. There is a rise featured in the plié exercise, we need good alignment to avoid losing balance. This is achieved by tucking the bottom and squeezing the ankles. We have been strengthening our core to help hold the positions and not fall out of an exercise. The knowledge of alignment and the core strength I have developed will both help me execute dance moves to a higher standard and prevent injury.