On January 20th I presented a Creative Movement Workshop at The Starving Artist, hosted by Impetus Dance Collective. This workshop was part of a regular series, taught by different artists on the third Wednesday of every month at 8pm.
During my workshop I presented a snapshot of several tools for creating dance. by the end of the 1hr class (just one!) the participants had created solo dances that were visually compelling and complete. They moved through several levels of composition in the short period of time and were able to experience these levels in a connected way, which is uncommon in expanded time (often it is difficult to recognize that after weeks of phrase-making we've shifted into shaping the arc of the piece or editing).
Because these tools are useful for all dance-makers, I'm sharing them here. I'll just describe the way we used them in the workshop and share some ideas for alternative approaches. Most of these methods can be adapted for a wide range of purposes. I'm going to write this in sections, so be alert!
This collaborative phrase-making game (adapted from Liz Lerman's toolbox) warmed us up, and took away some of the stress of making a dance "from scratch".
In the workshop, we stood facing center and I made a movement, saying "One. This is movement number one of an eight-count phrase; what is movement number two?" Taking turns we each added a beat to the eight count phrase until it was complete.
Part of the purpose of this activity is to use speed to bypass our internal editor. There is some amount of pressure to create a movement quickly. There are no wrong answers and the phrase often is pretty interesting and danceable by just about anyone.
The phrase-making game can be adapted by adding text and creating a movement for each word. It can be used by a solo dance maker to bypass that internal censor in the early stages of choreography (e.g. "I'm making and 8 count phrase. Go! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8!). It can also be used in a technique class as a method of increasing our movement memory by making it into an accumulation phrase. (This could also be combined with learning people's names).
For the purpose of our workshop, phrase-making expanded the warm-up, created a sense of community, jump-started our movement making skills and provided the initial "seed" for our dances.