75 vs 25
This fall I taught an Open Company Class for my company, The PlayGround on Tuesday nights. One of interests with teaching this class was figuring out how you (I) might teach a company class to an improvisationaly based dance company. For most companies their company class is an advanced technique class, but that would not be appropriate, nor get to the kind of training I think is important for the dancers in The PlayGround. One of the first choices I made was to reverse the amount of new material and previous material normally taught in class. In most dance classes (at least those that I have taken), about 75 percent of the material is the same week to week - yes, it might be rearranged or slightly altered, but basically it is the same - and 25 percent is new material. This division varies for different forms, but more or less holds true. Because I am not interested in having dancers be able to achieve a specific aesthetic or movement vocabulary I don't need them to perfect or learn certain movements, instead I want dancers who are adaptive. So, I reversed this percentage and had basically 25 percent of my material repeating and 75 percent new material each week. Sometimes this would shift more or less, but, again, was basically this division each week. This took alot more time to plan class and come up with new material and it takes more time in class to teach it, but I think it was successful in allowing the dancers to pick up material faster, be ready for the unexpected and stay present with what we were doing in that class. Another outcome of this shift is the focus on teaching concepts or bodily connections instead of "steps" - I'll write more about this in a later post.