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Choreography Workshop #1

But first, a few thoughts on teaching.

I gave our Sunday class an exercise with temps-lie (in open fourth) today, and they rocked it out.

There are a billion reasons to love and to use temps-lie — it’s great for teaching how to transfer balance, it helps students figure out how to use their feet, it feels dance-y, etc, etc. Today, though, I discovered one that I’d never thought of: it helps you spot students who are struggling with turnout.

Temps-lie in fourth with turnout is an unusual motor pattern.

In parallel, it’s actually a pretty common kind of movement — you’ve probably done something similar balancing yourself on a moving bus, train, or boat, for example, or reaching for something on a high shelf.

In second, even with turnout, it’s still not terribly unfamiliar.

The combination of turnout and open fourth, however, can make for a really challenging kind of movement. Suddenly, a student faces the potentially brand-new problem of shifting weight through their center of mass while continuing to rotate the hips open.

Students who are still developing the ability to maintain turnout from the rotators and intrinsic muscles at the tops of their legs tend to start to turn in, particularly on the leg that’s passing the weight along — that is, in temps-lié avant, the back leg may tend to turn in as the body is carried over the front leg, for example.

Those who are doing a little better but still not quite on top of the turnout problem will tend to roll the arches of their feet as their knees travel out of alignment. Their thighs may not appear to turn in much, but the rolling arches are a dead giveaway. (The turnout issue becomes more readily apparent when you look at these students from the side.)

Hands-on corrections can make a huge difference in both these situations: first, to indicate which muscles a student should activate to keep turnout going; second, to gently guide the movement of the knees so they track correctly.

Some students may initially feel like passing through temps-lié in fourth without rolling in at the knees is impossible, but it’s not (as long as they work within the purview of their natural turnout). Gentle hands-on guidance can usually solve that problem pretty quickly.

Some of our Sunday students are still finding their turnout, period, which is fine. Given that they’ve only been at this a few weeks, for the most part, I think they’re coming along rather swimmingly.

Next: Choreography Workshop #1

Today, most of us who have submitted acts for the Spring Showcase met to discuss our ideas, get a better sense of how getting-to-the-Showcase will proceed, and so forth. Denis brought his printed spreadsheets of our act, which more than one person found impressive. Heck, I’m still impressed.

After the group discussion, we broke out and worked on our pieces. This was the first time I got to try most of the sequenced choreography for my part.

I must say, I’m quite impressed with the work Denis has done: not only do the moves hang together well (there’s only one spot where the transition isn’t essentially automatic, and I worked out a graceful solution today), but there’s a natural coherence to everything. Incidentally, the moves also sync with the music really nicely, which is a bonus, since Denis’ only music-specific concern was trying not to make the whole thing too freaking long.

Evidently, I also look good doing my part of the act, which is nice. There was a conversation going on about my lines that culminated in someone asking me how long I’d been dancing. That was pretty cool 🙂

I ran through the core of my routine about a dozen times or so — enough to really make the choreography start to gel, since I probably won’t be at the aerials studio again until Tuesday.

All told, between dance and trapeze, I spent about two and a half hours doing physical stuff.

For some reason, I seem to be very hungry. Hmm. Wonder how that happened.

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