The Melbourne Dance Tour was a fantastic educational and cultural experience for all that attended. The students participated in four days of dance workshops, gaining skills that will assist them with their curriculum Dance studies.
Our first full day in Melbourne we were lucky enough to work with two professional dancers from Chunky Move dance company. In the 4 hour workshop the students were taken through a contemporary dance class and then were taught repertoire from Chunky Move’s recent work ‘Anti-gravity’. The choreography was very challenging but all the students gave it their best. By the end of the workshop they were performing it with confidence and all had some really lovely moments. The final part of the workshop saw the students selecting a rock, getting acquainted with it, and then improvising with, and around it. This was the first time many of the students had taken part in an unusual contemporary dance improvisation like this and I was very pleased with how they accepted the challenge and 'weirdness' of it to produced some creative and original movement.
The second day we had a change of pace by visiting Dance Factory, a dance school that has been running for over 30 years and is well known for producing highly talented commercial dancers. The students participated in a 30 minute warm up class which helped develop physical skills of strength, flexibility and endurance. They then participated in hip hop and jazz classes, learning and performing advanced routines. We also gained an insight into the commercial dance industry through a talk with Dance Factory's Artistic Director, Mark Laguerre, who told us stories about his prior career as a professional dancer, tips on how to get into the industry and what to expect from it.
Our third day was probably the most challenging for the students, as they worked with professional dancer and choreographer Daniel Jaber who facilitated the students through a process of collaboratively creating an original contemporary dance work. It was a potentially daunting task for the students as they were required to improvise and be creative, but everyone embraced the opportunity and by the end of the 5 hour workshop we had created a strong basis for a dance work that will be performed at the Term 2 Dance Open Evening. The dance work is based around the idea of organisation, and we used props to figuratively represent different facets of this idea: balancing responsibilities, being overwhelmed and weighed down by them, and what happens when chaos strikes and our carefully organised world collapses. The students were given many different tasks to do with their props, ranging from solo work to duo, trio and group work. Much of the day was spent exploring these ideas and tasks before putting them all together into a structure to create the dance work itself. We will continue to work on this throughout the term in preparation for performance.
After three full days of dancing, the students were relieved to have a break, explore the sights of Melbourne and do some much anticipated shopping! Other tourist activities we did throughout the tour were to go up the Eureka Skydeck for some amazing views of the city, have dinner at many delicious restaurants throughout the central city district, attend a musical theatre production and a ballet performance, and explore Federation Square, where some students even joined in with a dance flashmob!
To finish out tour, the students had one more day of dance workshops, this time at The Space Dance & Arts Centre where they were taken through four different dance styles: hip hop, dancehall, Broadway jazz and commercial jazz. All the teachers were fantastic, not only teaching fun dance sequences to learn but they provided information and tips on the commercial dance industry, as well as an overview and brief history of dancehall and other South American dance styles.
It was a huge amount to pack into only 5 full days in Melbourne but I could not be more proud of the students and how they acted throughout the whole tour: accepting challenges, being open to being creative, and exploring their own unique ideas and ways of moving.
I would like to thank the following for all their support in the planning of the Dance Tour. Myself and all the students involved really appreciate having had this opportunity:
o College Leadership for allowing this trip to take place
o Michelle Hunt: she has been part of the process from the beginning, helping to plan and organise all aspects of the tour, as well as attending the tour itself. The students and myself greatly appreciate all the work she did and her company on the tour.
o Mr Michael Royall: when he was asked to attend the tour at the last minute he agreed without hesitation. The students loved having him on the tour, as he went out of his way to accommodate the student’s wishes to ensure they had the best possible time. The students also appreciated him helping me navigate Melbourne’s public transport system so that we didn’t get lost too many times!
o All the parents of the students for trusting us with their children for a week – we got them all back safely!
o And last but not least, the students themselves. I loved being able to provide them with this opportunity and seeing them enjoy themselves while learning new skills.