We take a look at a subject which can be identified with by every artist. Whether it’s conveying socio-political messages, or taking a microscope to personal past experiences, individual / group expression and the arts go hand-in-hand. Serina, Lorien and Sophie once again offer their thoughts and artistic discussion points here, looking at expression and the arts from a multitude of angles; Serina reflects on the impact of being able to express through art forms from the beginning of her childhood, Lorien discusses how being able to express through the arts carries her through times of challenge, and Sophie takes a pedagogical perspective, offering insights to how she encourages, and enables, learners emotional expression in the studio.
Published here are the first parts of their entries, and please feel free to journey to their separate blogging spaces to indulge further. We welcome and encourage responses to the subject matter, so do contact us if you wish to share your thoughts and ideas with us.
Upbringing, Environment and Privilege
I came into the world of dance through my upbringing, environment, and privilege. My family is very musical. My very own family curates a classical orchestra, and play together, every year! We can all play at least one instrument, sing before we can talk and enjoy the simple pleasures of music. In terms of my home environment, my mother vocationally trained at the age of 18 in London, and performed professionally for a decade before having my brothers and me. Fortunately, I attended ballet lessons at my local ballet school as a result of my parents being AWARE that the arts industry exists. I suppose it all started from there. It sounds very generic and stereotypical, a little girl falling in love with ballet. But looking back, it was so much more than that. It was the music, the emotion, the athletic challenges, the sense of togetherness. Even at four years of age.
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I am someone who powers through life, cramming my time with more than I can manage, setting extremely high targets, and feeling both swamped and completely at ease when I have no time to spare!
As I mentioned in my last blog, January was a challenging month for me and that was because I didn't have a full schedule and a daily plan for what comes next. We had got through the Christmas high and finished the final presentations for my degree and then all of a sudden the focus was gone. Now, I think it is important to take time to stop and recuperate... but I do not enjoy the feeling of being lost at all, and in the midst of a pandemic, finding a way through seems like an impossibility.
I have now filled my time again, and really, it was forced upon me as I am fortunate to have received a lot of art orders this month but that didn't fix the lack of motivation I was experiencing. It's the same kind of lack of motivation you might feel after rejection.... or once you achieve a target.... or once you hit a brick wall in progression. The feeling of stuck. Of Stillness.
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Enabling emotions in the studio
Choosing a wide array of music: There’s nothing like repetitive syllabus tracks on repeat for weeks on end- to kill the passion! I also believe changing up the compositions helps train students to ‘listen’. Music can inspire, lift, motivate and stylise a student. Therefore, musical choices cannot be underestimated.
Teaching techniques: Imagery is one. Story telling- for young children this is imperative but in a lyrical dance I often ask students to imagine longing for something or someone. Perhaps in Ballet, a frappe movement can be strengthened with a thought of detestation. (Think of something you HATE- homework! Or asking pupils to mime a story in partners. Maybe assigning one step e.g a walk, and asking students to change the dynamic according to different genres of music.
Feelings check in: This is something I have actually introduced to my Zoom classes since I became further enlightened in the inquiry process (Module 3). Asking the students how they feel at the start of class means that they are confronted with their emotions. It’s rare that we ever stop to think about how we really feel- this allows one to tap into what’s going on in the present moment.
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