Monday, June 6, 2011

Duncan Dance Camp

What a fantastic camp week! I have been so excited to get some of my Girls’ School of Austin Duncan dancers into a real studio space and to open this work to other young dancers in Austin. One of the most gratifying aspects of teaching this work is sparking the creativity of young movers and witnessing their empowerment through dance.

We started the week with a focus on the element water—water is very important in Duncan technique and wave rhythm is central to Duncan movement.  We brainstormed all different kinds of water—clouds, fog, rain, ice, snow, rivers, oceans, and even swamps. We referenced water in Greek mythology and made our own rainsticks and decorated them with collage. The girls were insightful and creative, and this theme enabled us to explore many levels and dynamic qualities of movement from stillness to storm and low-lying levels to high wispy clouds.

Interspersed with creative exploration was time for technique, and we began to work on our high lift line and to introduce variations of skips including double skips and skip turns. The girls have been working with the Tanagra Figures for a while, and they began to practice that movement study on their own. We also worked on a skeleton of the Bach Gavottes, which basically represents the scales of Duncan technique.

One of the girls’ favorite explorations was an improvisation structure with scarves. I’ve now acquired quite a collection of scraps of silk from tunics, and we piled them up in the center of the room and practiced dancing with scarves of various lengths. The scarves are a visible reflection of the body’s movement through space, and they also encourage full-bodied movement—like flying someone said.

We finished the week with a full program for parents, family, and friends, and the girls were costumed in tunics they designed and dyed themselves (my first time dying tunics with a group this young and I might have to borrow some of their ideas). Sharing this work with these young dancers fills my heart with joy, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have such an immersive experience with them.