Lesson One – Near and Far
Suitable for: Teachers with illness or injury.
Level – All levels who can improvise or who have learnt a short choreography or combination.
Warm up – If you are unable to stand or move, supervise a senior student to lead your normal warm up.
Introduction – “Today we are going to work on our own personal space needs. We all have invisible bubbles around us that define how close we allow others to be to our bodies. When standing in line at the check-out, we all like to stand about a carts distance from strangers, in dance class you all stand about the same distance apart. Today we are going to look at what happens when we stand too close together, what happens when we move too far apart, how the dance looks from different angles and how we can use that knowledge to improve our performance skills.”
Set up – Split the class into small groups of two, three or four, depending on how you think your students will enjoy this lesson. Larger groups are good if you have one or two people who will be brave and others who will follow. Small groups are good if your shy dancers have trusted friends in their groups.
Section One – Set up and Exercise - Remind the group of a short combo from a choreography, or a combo they recently learnt, teach a short combo, or ask them to improvise. Allow them a few minutes to remind themselves or practice. Use this time to introduce the music you will be using for the next section.
Section Two – Set up and Exercise - Ask the groups to pick a “Performer” from their group. Everyone else is “Audience”. At this point don’t tell them where to stand to watch or to perform. Play the music and ask the performer to dance and the audience to watch. If you want you can allow everyone in the group to take a turn. At this point the teacher is simply allowing the students to get used to being watched, and seeing how close, or how far away, the groups position themselves for comfort.
Reflection on Section Two – review the section, ask questions and allow feedback. These questions have no “right” answer, but are more an opening of encouraging more thought. Here are some suggested questions:
How does it feel to be watched when you dance?
Did your audience smile and encourage you?
Did you interact with your audience?
As an audience member, where did you look (eyes/face/hips/feet)?
Did you feel a connection between the audience and the performer?
What moves looked good?
What moves didn’t work?
End this section by suggesting that each audience member gets into the habit of saying something positive to each of the performances they see for the rest of the session.
Section Three – Set up and Exercise - Send the “Performers” to one end of the room and the “Audience” to the other side. Put as much distance between them as possible. Repeat the short combos and rotate members of the groups. If necessary remind them to complement each other.
Reflection on Section Three - As before. Here are some suggested questions:
How did you feel the distance affected your performance?
How did the distance affect you as an audience member?
Was there more interaction or less?
Did you dance for your team mate/s or the whole class group?
How did you change your moves to better reach your audience?
How did the moves look different from a distance?
Section Four – Set up and Exercise - Send the groups to different areas of your room and ask them to make an intimate dance setting. Suggest that the audience sit at the dancer’s feet, or pull chairs up close, or stand within arm’s reach of the dancer. Again play the same music and allow each dancer their turn as the “performer”. If possible rotate the audience so they are standing, in the chair and on the floor.
Reflection on Section Four – As before. Here are some suggested questions:
Did you feel that there was not enough distance between the performer and audience?
Why does “chair dancing” feel so different/wrong/intimate?
What is it like to sit on the floor and watch a dancer?
Is it easy to make eye contact when you are this close?
Did the tone of the performance change?
General Reflection –As before. Here are some suggested questions:
How did your dance moves change depending on how close your audience was?
How far away is your audience at *upcoming event*?
Which venue do we know/can we imagine where the audience is a long way off?
Which venue do we know/can we imagine where the audience is very close?
What is the perfect distance for you between you and your audience?
Why is eye contact so important?
Is it easier or harder to tell a story with your dance when the audience is far away?
Is it easier or harder to interact when the audience is far away?
What costume choices would improve the performance for each type of audience?
Tah-Dah – Change the music to something very different and allow your dancers to improvise. Ask them to travel the room and interact, smile and make eye contact with each other.
Cool down – Lead your usual cool down or supervise a senior student to lead it for you.
Timings (assuming a one hour class)
Intro – 5min
Warm up – 10 min
Set up – 3 mins
Section One (reminder of combo/improve) – 5 mins
Section Two (performing to each other) – 5 mins
Reflection – 2 min
Section three (performing at a distance) – 5 min
Reflection – 2 min
Section four (performing close up) – 5 min
Reflection – 5 min
Tah Dah – (Fun improve) – 5 min
Cool Down – 7 min