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Watching children rehearse - hoping you lot will understand...


ParentTaxi
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Yesterday, DD and 3 friends were rehearsing trios and duets in preparation for an upcoming festival. Draughty church hall, sluightly resentful feeling beause there were lots of other things I needed to be doing, you will know the sort of thing.

 

Then I watched them and was suddenly moved nearly to tears. They are 11 or just 12, and I have seen all 4 dancing in festivals since they were little. Their 'perfected' festival performances don't move me in the same way. But their solemnity, their earnestness, and the fact that the dances weren't quite right yet so you could see how hard they were working was genuinely touching. They did;'t need me, or any other adult, to tell me what to do to improve - they knew that from inside and between themselves, and they kept going until they did it as perfectly as they could.

 

As soon as they finished dancing, they returned to being slightly daffy, giggly pre-teens. But when they were dancing, they were curiously adult in their professional focus.

 

Is it just me???

 

 

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I remember feeling like this some years ago when DD was a similar age and her teacher was choreographing a festival dance on her.  She was naming the moves and DD was not just doing them but putting them together, linking them with an understanding that seemed beyond her years.  I thought, oh, she is fluent in a language I don't know (and it wasn't French, though the names of the moves are) - and yes, that earnest and attentive quality, of wanting to work hard, was very touching.

 

I particularly like to remember it on days like today, when I have had to bite my tongue over revision schedules slipping and so on.  But no, it's not just you :)

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what i really love to watch is the way all the dancers in the class follow the teachers explanation of the next practise sequence with a waving motion of their hands and little steps of their feet - as if they are learning the sequence with their bodies and not their minds. I haven't described it very well but any of you who have watched older vocational dancers will know what I mean. To me it looks like they have reached a stage of fluency in their dancing (like someone learning a language who suddenly thinks in that language, or when you forget to think about changing gears in a car) where the dance goes straight to their hands and feet. Sometimes you can even see their expressions change as they mimic the shapes. It's so beautiful and almost always moves me- and yes, I agree, far more than the finished product because it demonstrates so strongly their connection with their craft....

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I never get to see 'taught' classes or solo lessons, so I suppose what affected me so much was that it came from inside the girls, not in response to anything they were being taught or told. It was just a reherasal that they were running for themselves - i was only there as key-holder and 'Play' button presser.

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Our dance school joins up with another locally and puts on a summer school culminating in a show for parents and anyone who wants a ticket.
I am privileged in that I get to help out with costumes, props and backstage so I am often to be found at the school during rehearsals.
These kids from tots to teens bring this show together in a week and I have often found myself being really moved by their dedication, their enthusiasm, their efforts their sheer passion and enjoyment. 

We also put on an annual dance school show and again I am in a privileged position of helping out (and I get to do a dance too!) and at the end of the 3 day - 4 shows, when the final curtain comes down and then reopens for presentations - you will always find me having a weepy (of joy) at these amazing kids (not just my own child).

 

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Celib - when watching the Winter Olympics, the pictures of the skiers and boarders at the top of a slope visualising their runs reminded me of the truncated movements you describe.

 

First times I saw this, I thought my DS was not doing it right!

 

Now realise it is probably a good thing.

 

And yes, quite incredible watching them.

 

The one I really can't get my head around is when they do some routine based on what the teacher has said, then the teacher says OK, now reverse it... Fluttery movements and then hey presto.

 

How DO they do that?

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I think it is practice, Stirrups. We all mark out what our dance teacher tells it before we start an exercise and also on the other side. I have also seen dance students at my dds' school do a sort of short hard with either their hands or their feet to mark an exercise or dance steps.

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did any of you who are as old as me ever read Noel Streatfields 'the painted garden'? its not exactly a sequel to ballet shoes but the Fossil sisters feature as adults- and Posy is now a famous ballerina- I remember being really taken by the way her character is only able to remember facts (eg phone messages) if she learns them with her feet by executing dance steps. As a child I was enchanted with this idea- as I got older I started to think it was rather fanciful- but now I see my DS listening to a complex set of instructions and 'learning them' with those little fluttery hand and foot movements I begin to wonder....!!

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