Last week on Thursday, September 13, 2012, the History of Performance class went to Cossitt Hall for a dance workshop. This experience was quite surprising. Once we arrived at the class, we were given a mini lecture on ballet by the dance instructor. She informs us that ballet consists of strict rules.
Later, we did warm-up exercises; we used the bars and did basic ballet positions such as first and second position. After a while of doing basic ballet steps, the dance instructor told us to move towards the corner. Here, we were given instructions to dance on our tippy-toes and move towards the center of the room.
Once there, the dancer is informed to move in a circle while moving our hands downward, kick one of our legs up until the feet meets the knee, and go back around, kick leg, jump and move to the side. Now the dancer for this dance are the females. When a male comes into the dance, he picks the female up when she does the jump, spins when she moves to the side, and falls to one knee. At this point the female takes his hand and run in a circle around him, then both the male and female bow.
At the end of the dance, each student claimed that they felt as free as a bird. We never expected to feel this way, because the structure of ballet is one of great strictness; every movement in ballet has to be perfect. The feeling of being free is difficult to understand, since we all tried to reflect our best perfect dance.
After we did ballet, we moved into a more modern dance. In this dance we were given random dances that did not feel as structured as ballet but more natural. We learned that the nature of modern dance is the movements we use each day. We start off in the corner and run (in a way that we are low to the ground in a ballet like stance) to the center of the room then roll into a ball and get back up on our feet. We also rolled similar to a log and did cartwheels. This change in dance structure made us feel more comfortable, because modern dance uses the actions we did as children and continue to do so today, thus allowing us to feel no different than how we feel everyday and at the same time laugh most of the time.
The different dances that the class performed allowed us to understand that everything can be made into a dance. The structure shown in modern dance may not be as strictly formed as ballet, but it is designed in its own way. Therefore, different dances all reflect a surprise that one would not expect: to have so much fun performing them.