Truly American Dance Techniques - Tap, Jazz and Hip Hop!
Posted by Amanda Cook on 9/14/2018 9:00:00 AM
This week in Dance, we explored three American dance techniques. This is a continuation of our study on how dance relates to US History, but we were also learning how studying different techniques helps us get better at articulation (make sure to ask your dancer about what articulation means).
On Monday we tried out Tap. We learned about how tap was formed by the mixing of African dance styles with Irish step dance in New York. We also learned some steps like the Shuffle, Flap, Ball-change, Time Step, Buffalo, and improvisation. Getting our feet to do what we want was harder than we expected as Tap required a lot of focus and articulation.
Tuesday was all about Jazz. We learned about how Bob Fosse used his physical weaknesses to create his own style of dance. How he used angles, snaps, isolations, turned in feet, and JAZZ HANDS to express style and flair on stage. Students found this to be the easiest style to catch onto, mostly because its more familiar, but there is a big emphasis on articulation in Fosse style jazz with a wide array of small and large movements, head placement and rhythms.
Wednesday we popped and locked our way onto the mean streets of New York as we explored the early beginnings of Hip Hop. We talked about how street dancers used humor to engage spectators (so they could earn money). Articulation took on a whole new meaning as we learned how hard it is to isolate in popping! We tried arm pops, body rolls, snakes, six steps, the robot, floor spins, top rocks, and free styling (improvisation).
On our short day, Thursday, we watched videos of really good Tap, Jazz and Hip Hop performances. Students reflected on what they liked and didn't like about the performances as well as identified any vocabulary they recognized from the week in class. This was a set-up for our final projects on Dance in the US next week, where students will use their own personal aesthetic criteria, as well as influences from US Dance History to make group projects that show "American Dance".
Our objective for this week was for students to understand how Dance and US History correlate. We started with the beginning, learning dances like the Quadrille, the Polka, the Waltz and the fox trot. Students enjoyed learning from each other, both the history and the dances! Seniah did an amazing job of weaving the heritage of tap into the narrative! Then we moved into more modern times, with the Tango, Charleston, Swing, Rock n Roll, and Disco! The students from Mrs. Whitestone's class joined us on Friday and even jumped up to join some of the dance activities! The Tango was a huge hit, but I don't think anything topped the fun and freedom of Toni's foray into Disco and break dance!
I am really interested to get feedback from students about learning dance history this way. I was really happy with how the projects ended up and LOVED watching them waltz around the atrium and tango with gusto!
Dance history is one of my passions, as I truly believe that knowing why people dance helps build community and passion for the art form.
Moving forward, we will be studying three truly American dance styles this week, Tap, Jazz, and Hip Hop. I am excited to have a technique week!
A few things you can talk to your dancer about this week: What styles of dance surprised you? What styles of dance would you like to learn more about? And share stories about dances that were popular when you were their age!
Enjoy this video of some of the experiences from the week!
I, for one, had a blast this week! It was so great to get moving again and start building our Intermediate/Honors class for the semester! Here's an overview of what we learned:
Goal setting and analysis of goals for dance, specifically how to determine if we are making SMART goals!
Making stylistic choices and how to use space, time, weight, and flow to distinguish between different styles.
Analyzing music: structure and composition as it applies to choreography.
Developing performance qualities that are appropriate for the dances we perform.
I enjoyed watching students grow and push themselves throughout the week. I saw seniors like Anna and Diamond really leading their groups through the choreographic process. I saw freshmen like Rachael being bold and raising their hand in discussions. I saw my sophomores, who took beginning last year, like Libby and Kiziah, stepping up to the intensity of a more advanced class!
In looking ahead to next week, a few reminders:
If you haven't completed the course syllabus, please do so immediately so that I can be sure that everyone is aware of the expectations for this course.
Dress out is required for class, beginning Tuesday. All black will go into effect starting next week.
We will be studying Dance in US History this week. Students will be researching, creating, and presenting. Ask them to practice for you Wednesday or Thursday night so that you can learn about what they're learning and encourage them on their presentation skills!
Powerschool will not be up and running until September 11, so please contact me if you have any questions about grades. Interim reports will be sent home on September 13 (in all classes).
Please mark October 25 on your calendar for the Honors Dance Concert. The theme will be "Phobias". I am working on an exciting performance space for this concert, so stay tuned...
I plan to update this blog weekly, so please subscribe by clicking the "RSS" button below!
I presented a new pilot program that I am researching this year to students in class on Friday. This evaluation and feedback system will be entered into Power School but will not carry any weight in their grade. The students seemed somewhat excited about this new method for grading and I really do appreciate any and all feedback you all can give on how its working or not working for each student. To review this work in progress, you can click the link below.