Monday, 7 July 2014

Moving in Circles - Class Notes on Circular Moves

I've been thinking a lot about the core movements used in belly dance, a sort of 'nuts and bolts' or 'toolbox' approach to belly dance as a way of moving rather than a set of moves.  While preparing for some recent classes, I started pondering the permutations of circular movements and since then, I've used this in class.  This post provides some brief notes on circular moves as inspiration for some dance exploration.  Although these notes use belly dance as a reference, I could see this as an interesting contemporary dance exploration, too.

We looked at creating circles and arcs (e.g. half or part-circles) using different parts of the body, turning, and creating circular pathways.

Head Circle, as if you are drawing a large circle on the wall in front of you with your nose (remembering to keep the neck long).
Shoulders Vertically circling forwards and backwards, singly or alternating
Chest/upper body
  • Shifting, 
  • Tilting, 
  • Vertical face on, 
  • Vertical forward and back = upper body undulation standard (a backwards circle, forward, up, back, down) and reverse (a forward circle, back-up-forward-down, being careful not to let the shoulders sag forward and the chin lift then dip as you complete the forward-down movement, as it will look like you're throwing up!)
  • Wide chest/upper body circle (remembering to vacuum pack your innards, strong core, tail down and back long as this involves leaning back. Gently does it, keep it small to start with.)
  • Shifting, horizontal small, medium or large/dipping hip circles,
  • Tilting,
  • Vertical face on and vertical forward and back = lower body undulation standard and reverse
  • Asymmetrical (one hip) horizontal or vertical forwards and backwards.
Hand and Wrist, Like floreos, scooping honey from a jar, plucking a flower, beckoning, pushing away
Arms Leading with the elbow backwards, or with stretched arms large circles forward and back or face on, inwards across the body or outwards, lower arm circles in across the body or out, either singly or both together
Legs Describing an arc on the floor with the toe before placing the foot down (as in the ballet rond de jambe). Slinky walk, or as part of a pivot half turn.

Explore circles in different planes of movement:
  • horizontal - parallel to floor,
  • vertical - face on,
  • vertical - forward and back or side-on
Link circles or arcs and undulations, for example a backwards shoulder circle sending a wave down the outstretched arm to produce and arm ripple.

Parts of circles = arcs, e.g.horizontal hip circles made of a front and back arc beginning and ending in the side/hip slide position.  These can be used as transitions, with a weight shift from one foot to the other.

Explore single hip vertical arcs: a smooth series of short arcs, or write m, n, o, u, w with one hip, side on.

Circular movements with arms, turns, pathways are particularly useful when dancing with air props - veils, fan veils and Isis wings, as the movement allows air to be caught under the fabric, swirling as you turn. Explore floor patterns space and directions:
  • Turns
  • Turning a movement on the spot
  • Circular pathways
  • Circles within circles - moving around in a circle with added turns.
It's often useful in improvisation and choreography to set rules and limits to movement. The same movement repeated with different dynamics, such as size of movement, speed and changes in speed and direction, and between arcs and whole circles, can create interesting effects.

In class, we created a combination by adding a circular move suggested by each person around the circle. In your own practice, you could add or reorder the moves, pass the move around the body, change or repeat moves, think about transitions and flow, how to move smoothly from one move to the next.  This is primarily a study, but it would be possible to base an entire dance piece on circular movements.

Have fun! I'd love to see what you come up with.

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