Video transcript
Dancing with D'Arts - 06. Creating a dance program - Mirror Mirror

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[music playing]

VIRGINIA FERRIS: As a warm-up or cool-down, I use this next dance game to support my class. It's called 'Mirror Mirror'.

Students can learn about dance in so many ways. They can experience dance just by moving to a beat or music. They can be directed or taught steps based on a social dance or a technical syllabus such as tap, jazz, ballet. Or they can just follow the tutor, doing improvised movement.

In this way, the tutor needs the stimulus to move, so that the student can follow the teacher's body shapes, maybe using some locomotive movements or some arm gestures or expression. These can be created as if looking into a mirror. You could use the reference like, at the hairdresser, looking into the mirror, or Snow White's mirror, or maybe even Michael Jackson's 'Man In the Mirror'. No words need to be spoken, maybe just a trigger word every now and again.

To create this dance, we need stimulus for the teacher. Try some music. Maybe start off slow, medium, then faster music. Or it could be a visual image, or even just a story told.

The movement doesn't need to be complex, just sincere. Maybe start on a low level, maybe on the ground or at chair height. Move only isolated body parts, for example, fingers first. The students will follow, trying to imitate the mirror image. Maybe try fingers on the head, or shoulder rolls, different face expressions, hiding the face with the elbows.

Do these improvised body parts using different tempos, using frozen moments. Now add lower-body movements. Then perhaps change to a different level.

So start by students facing each other as if in a mirror, and follow the previous template. Teachers may repeat a word stimulus, such as 'fingers', 'head', 'shoulder', or just let the students create their own movement. Teachers should watch the students create their own movement, because there might be something you can draw on for the performance. To make this exercise more accessible for students who may have a vision impairment, use touch so that they can feel the mirror shape and copy the shape.

Okay, now let's explore a fun mirror dance. So just like at a fun park, mirrors can make you look quite curvy, or taller or shorter than you really are. I want you to start by creating 4 different mirror shapes. Include the expression and the different levels.

Remember we're in the mirror, our mirror shape, at the fun park. We're gotta try and get that right. Oh. Hold your shape so I can follow you. You hold your shape. Okay? And I'm going to try and follow you.

These could be chosen from a previous exercise. Ask the students to create the movement in between these 4 shapes. This is called transitional movement. Or you can call it the liquid movement in between.

So show me your first shape. What's our first shape? See, now, your first shape-- see if you can do a movement that involves what's called a spin, a spin. So any type of spin to get to your second shape. Are we ready? Off we go. So any type of spin. Spin to get to your second shape.

One student is the leader mirror image, just like the Pied Piper, and the other student, or the carer, can follow. Add a locomotive movement. This can be a single travelling movement from the start shape to the other space on the floor. For example, it could be a slither or a sharp, robotic movement.

So what's your slither?

STUDENT: I want to do this.

VIRGINIA FERRIS: Yours is that? Okay, that's a good slither. Yeah, I want you to show me any type of slither.


VIRGINIA FERRIS: Okay, I'm going to do you with you. Off we go. Slither. Slither. And then get to your sad shape.

Now swap the leader. Start again with the 4 shapes. Add the liquid movement in between, and then add the locomotive movement back to position 1.

[dance music playing]

And shape 1! Spin! Shape 2! Slither! Sad shape!

Music could be a powerful tool to direct the style of the locomotive movement. But sounds, words, can also add to the dynamics. So in summary, use descriptive words as movement stimulus, such as 'slither' or 'robotic, sharp movement', instead of step-based words. This will give the students a descriptive way of moving, rather than the physical right or wrong way.

Allow the students ownership to create. This will build confidence. Remember, nothing is incorrect.

LEANNE PIPER: When we started to look at having a dance program within the unit at Rossmore, some of the challenges I came across was looking at the dance curriculum and deciding whether to focus on the components of dance, with all the different elements, or doing a performance, whether to extend the children's creativity or to restrict it to composing something that they had to do where I controlled all the situation.

VIRGINIA FERRIS: In the next session, we're looking at what you can do with props.

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