.Jessica Runge

     
  Warm-up Music  
  "C Jam Blues" by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, from "Great Times: Piano Duets".
Listen to a sample.
 
     
  Leg Exercises Music  
 
"Lafferty's" by Martin Hayes from "The Gathering".
Listen to a sample.
 
     
  Swings Music  
  "Waltz from the Serenade for Strings" by Tchaikovsky, arr. Laurinda Almeida from "Duets for Spanish Guitar".
Listen to a sample.
 
     
  Adage Music  
  "Obiero" by Oyub Ogada from "En Mana Kuoyo".
Listen to a sample.
 
     
  Crossing the Floor Music  
  "Majurugenta" by Ghorwane from "Majurugenta".
Listen to a sample.
 
....

LESTER B. PEARSON SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS PROJECT

Project Description:
Jessica Runge taught dance to 112 students at Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts in London, Ontario in April and May 2004.
Grade six and seven classes at Pearson met with Jessica between one and five times. During the first part of each class, which varied in length from twenty minutes to two hours, Jessica led students through a skills building technique class, as outlined below (with some variation). After these skills sessions, the students worked on creative projects which Jessica facilitated. To find out more about the student projects, click here.

Sample Dance Class:
Project Goals:
The aims of these skills building sessions were to increase movement vocabulary; enhance dance skills (such as balance and coordination); increase strength, flexibility, and the ability to learn and memorize new movement; and to provide students with an introduction to some of the standard methods and procedures utilized in dance technique classes (such as beginning class in lines facing the teacher, coming across the floor in groups, or executing short movement sequences choreographed to music).

Exercises:
One)
Each class began with some kind of informal greeting (such as standing in a circle, saying names and making a movement to go with each name).

Two) With students working in three wide lines facing the instructor, a warm-up exercise proceeded from the top of the body all the way down to the feet; lightly warming-up and stretching the major muscles of the arms; circling and loosening the muscles of the neck, torso, and hips; strengthening the legs; improving balance; and opening and strengthening the ankles. This warm-up was accompanied by Strayhorn and Ellington's "C Jam Blues" .

Three) Leg-work began with a "plié" (bending of the leg) exercise executed in an easy turned-out "second position" (feet slightly apart), first position (heels together), and with parallel feet (heels together). The aim was to open up the joints, enhance eccentric contraction, and, by also incorporating movements for the upper body, to develop coordination. Pliés were followed by work through the feet: joints were articulated slowly and then with more speed in parallel and easily turn-out positions. Extending the leg began with sliding each foot out to the front side, and back, in parallel and turned-out first. This was repeated just off the floor to develop more extension and balance. Following a short "combination", which paired jogging on the spot with quarter-turns of the body, students learned a walking pattern that transferred weight from foot to foot. This simple repeating walking pattern ended time with a quarter turn, so that each time it repeated the students faced a different direction. The last leg exercise in this series was a repetition of the leg extension work done earlier. This time the legs were extended higher, to forty-five degrees. The leg exercises were accompanied by Celtic music by Martin Hayes.

Four) Depending on how much time was available, class sometimes included one or two longer exercises, such as a sliding swinging combination that worked on moving the body more quickly through space, or an "adage" (slow combination) that worked on slow, coordinated extensions of the legs into space in tandem with torso movements and some traveling through space. Excerpts of music performed by spanish guitarist Laurinda Almeida and east African singerOyub Ogada were used for these exercises.

Five) The final section of class focused on traveling through space. Students left the line formation they had been working in until this point. In groups of four they proceeded diagonally across the room, from corner to corner, working on a series of exercises that progressed from walking, through various patterns of hopping, skipping, quick and slow steps, running, and culminating with jumping. Mozambique musician Ghorwane's beautiful "Majurugenta" accompanied these sequences.

Responses: Deborah Kapp, a dance teacher at Pearson, thought that the students, who were used to a format more focused on creative work in groups, were successfully introduced to some key aspects of the format more typically used in contemporary dance technique training. This alternate approach challenged students to motivate themselves while working independently of others and to develop new physical skills and routines.

Shannon Martin, one of the participating students, wrote: "I really enjoyed the time we had with u!"

.... BACK TO TEACHING