Ballet students learn to make dances

Advanced level students in Ballet Memphis School are learning this year how to make dances. In a weekly workshop led by Janet Parke (School Director), Steven McMahon (Choreographic Associate), and Julie Opiel (former Junior Company dancer and current ballet company Trainee), the dancers are exploring the elements of movement and creativity that form the choreographer's toolbox. Early explorations include direction (the way one faces, and travels), plane, level, timing, and deconstruction. In a classroom assignment designed to combine all these elements, the students were given the following six dance elements as the vocabulary with which to create their own movement:

  • walk/step
  • frappĂ©
  • arabesque
  • balancĂ©
  • pas de chat
  • figure 8

Using only these six steps and shapes, and the musical assignment of one of Brahms' 16 waltzes (Op. 39), each dancer has created a solo for herself, and their cumulative efforts form the middle piece of the Junior Company's performance, Boundless:Elegance, this weekend. Pictured above are Ryan Stroble and Julianne Jorgensen, in rehearsal.

This project is the first of several choreographic works-in-progress that will culminate in an entirely student-choreographed show in early March. Ballet Memphis School is one of the few schools in the nation to offer this kind of movement exploration and choreographic training to high school students.

Posted by Janet Parke at 9:31 AM
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9/28/2012 at 03:24 PM by Kelli Stroble

Great Photo! Thanks to Karen Campbell for sharing her lovely photographs! All the students have done an amazing job with this assignment.

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