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by Carol Oriold, Allen Kaeja, Karen Kaeja


This chapter starts with the first day and takes you through the Warm-Up process. It will demonstrate how the Warm-Up can be varied from class to class. The Variations section, [page 20] contains many ideas on how to keep the Warm-Up fresh and challenging.

N.B. before you start: Because your students are your actual working material, there is no set rule for how long any stage of the process takes. Based on the steps of the process, you can start out with a flexible outline of what will be achieved each day or in a week. As the teacher sees what the learners are creating in class, the outline can be adjusted to accommodate the progress of their work. Menus are offered in this guide to indicate how long steps may take, but you should feel free to alter time-lines and most of all, enjoy the work.

The Warm-Up serves several purposes. It:

  • catches the students off-guard before they have a chance to hesitate and has even the most reluctant students participating
  • breaks down barriers among learners and teacher and produces an atmosphere of playfulness
  • lets the students begin to explore their personal range of movement
  • stretches the body, warms up the muscles, and promotes flexibility
  • introduces the use of breath
  • promotes agility, strength and alignment
  • introduces the principles that will be used throughout the creative process

Here is a Warm-Up that has proven successful. You may feel better prepared by physically rehearsing some movements and sounds, such as the first four below, before your class.
 

1. Everyone, including the teacher, stands in a circle. This allows everyone to see and be seen on an equal basis.

2. The teacher does a movement with a sound which the learners repeat. Here are four movements and sounds as an example:

  • the right arm is stretched up to the sky, with a drawn-out ssaaah sound.
  • move quickly to a semi-squat position, bringing the arm down parallel to the floor. Use a ha! sound.
  • the left arm swings around with a drawn-out chooooo sound and the hands clap.
  • the entire body stretches, with no strain, with a drawn-out cheeeee sound.

N.B. Incorporating vocal sounds in the beginning stages of the work eliminates inhibitions and apprehension.

3. The teacher continues to demonstrate movements and sounds which are repeated by the learners. A high level of energy prevents hesitation. As soon as the students have repeated the movement and sound sequence, the teacher initiates a new sequence.

Explore these dimensions:

  • body isolations (working only one part of the body at a time, such as the head, an arm, a leg, the torso)
  • stretching using deep breaths, sighs and drawn-out sounds
  • aerobic (high energy movements such as jumps, spins, quick changes of level)
  • a sense of fun and play.

4. Variety is key in initiating the movements and sounds. Try these variations:

  • energetic sudden movements versus relaxed,  quieter, drawn-out, smoother movements
  • all the physical levels possible
  • movements towards the centre of the circle versus movements that reach out of the circle
  • spins and turns
  • sounds that are motivated by the movement so that there are quick staccato sounds versus long drawn-out sounds
  • louder versus quieter sounds
  • varied breath sounds

Explore!

5. Now the learners are going to be given the responsibility of initiating new movements. The momentum that has been generated cannot be broken by stopping the action to describe how this will be done. Still in the circle, the teacher uses a "script" (see next page), with a movement accompanying each line. Continuing the "copy-cat" nature of the Warm-Up, the students repeat each line with its movement.

N.B. The teacher can readily learn the script with a rehearsal before starting the Express Dance class. The script does not have to be followed word for word; in fact, the names will be substituted for the actual names of the teacher and learners. Pupils always think this is a most novel way to receive information. They delight in the repetition.

No thought! No Preparation! Impulse! can be repeated by the teacher during the Warm-Up whenever it appears that a student has interrupted the flow to think. If the student lets the material burst out spontaneously - others will build on it.

Stress originality. You may have to ask students not to copy what they have seen on television.

Here is the script:

NOW, I...

NOW, I...

NOW, I, MR. WASNIAK...

WILL CREATE...

A MOVEMENT...

WITH A SOUND...

AND THEN...

ADAM WILL TAKE... (Adam is the student standing beside the teacher)

MR. WASNIAK'S MOVEMENT AND SOUND...

AND ADD HIS OWN MOVEMENT...

WITH A SOUND...

AND THEN...

JANE WILL TAKE... (Jane is the student standing beside Adam)

ADAM'S MOVEMENT AND SOUND...

AND ADD HER OWN MOVEMENT...

WITH A SOUND...

AND ON...

AND ON...

AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON...

NO THOUGHT!

NO PREPARATION!

IMPULSE!

6. After the script has been executed, the teacher creates a movement and sound. The group repeats this then Adam immediately creates his own movement and sound. The group repeats it, then Jane responds by creating her movement and sound. The teacher ensures that each learner is repeating the previous movement 100% and is using the finishing point to initiate a new movement.

7. After going around the circle at least twice, the teacher and three or four learners form a demonstration group inside the large circle. To demonstrate how to respond without hesitation, the teacher initiates a new series of movements and sounds using the demonstration group. Levels and Dynamic should come into play. The rest of the class watches.

8. The demonstration group rejoins the large circle and the teacher asks for a volunteer or appoints a confident student to initiate the first movement. The student picks the direction in which the circle will travel - clockwise or counter-clockwise. This small task leads to HUGE empowerment. The Warm-Up will continue several times around the circle. A different student should initiate each round. Dynamics to work on are:

  • Throughout the Warm-Up, each student takes over from the previous movement and sound before an obvious end has occurred, creating smoother transitions and continuity.
  • If most of the movements in a round resemble the martial arts, the teacher can request slow, sustained, gentler movements in the next round.
  • The reverse is also true. If movements are small and close into the body, the teacher stresses large movements in the next round.
  • If all the movements are high, the teacher suggests that the next person pick a middle or low Level. The body can be in almost total contact with the floor, if desired.
  • Movements can move into and out of the circle.

If the learners repeat the following script with corresponding movements, a sense of fun is brought to varying Levels and directions.

IF ONE GOES IN...

ANOTHER GOES OUT...

IF ONE GOES UP...

ANOTHER GOES DOWN...

IT GOES LIKE THIS...

'TIL WE FINISH THE ROUND!

N.B. The aim is for the teacher to keep encouraging the learners to explore something new in their range of movement and then to show appreciation at the end of the round for their creativity. Variety means a wider range of exploration.

9. The teacher lets the movement go around the circle as many times as necessary to encourage spontaneity and variety. Achieving this comfort and success level creates a sense of group unity. If the students are cooking, there is no need to stop. Each turn around the circle can focus on a particular movement style:

  • large exaggerated movements
  • short, sharp, quick movements
  • long, sustained continuous movements that melt into the next movement
  • torso initiated movements
  • anything you can think of

10. The teacher lets many learners start the circle, encouraging involvement and commitment.

N.B. Everything in this Warm-Up will come into play in the later work. You are instilling confidence and acceptance and encouraging spontaneity, sensitivity, creativity, and a Kinesthetic Response to movement created by others.

By now you have probably done enough Warm-Up and are ready to create Movement Phrases. The Warm-Up has prepared learners to move into this next stage.

Creating Movement Phrases is outlined in the next Chapter, Now We're Cooking!

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