Intro to modern dance

August 27, 2011 at 12:18 pm Leave a comment

“I’m going to dance and you’re going to follow along and do what I do.  I’m not going to break down every move and I’m not going to give you counts.  Welcome to modern dance.”

I’m not sure what I was expecting as I walked into class on my first day of modern dance.  I had been told to come prepared to dance, but I had not been told what to wear or bring to class.  I had known before class that everyone in the room would have had dance experience, but I hadn’t expected half of the class to have experience in modern (remember, this is intro level Modern I).  And coming from a background in Irish dance where t-shirts and shorts were the usual in-class uniform and – of course – pole dance, where sports bras and booty shorts are the norm, it was a little bit of a culture shock when I realized that everyone around me was dressed like a ballerina in leotards and tights.

And those weren’t the only surprises.  I’ll say it again: this was INTRO to Modern.  Not Modern II, III, IV, V, etc.  I pick up dance moves pretty quickly, and I’ll admit that I was a little worried that the class would move too slowly; instead, however, I was struggling to keep up – not only with the complicated routines we were learning on the first day of class, but with the dance terms and position names that came straight from ballet, which, by the way, I haven’t taken since I was five.

On top of that, most moves didn’t even have a name – if you could say that the dances we learned were composed of individual moves.  Because rather than breaking down the steps, our teacher stood in silence in the front of the room and started moving.  She continued to flow from one position to the next until some undetermined point (since she refused to give us counts to time the movements) where she briefly paused and then started over.  When we realized we were supposed to follow along, we started trying to copy her.  She repeated the whole sequence maybe three times, and then she turned on the music.  We did it once with her and then as a group while she watched.  And if we had any questions about a certain part of the sequence, there was no way to easily refer to it except to try to reproduce the move in question while stringing together some words in an effort to describe what it looked like.  Needless to say, I was totally lost.  And by the second day of class, I was still totally lost.

I had originally decided to enroll in the class because I wanted to try out a new form of dance, and I’ve always been curious about modern.  Lately I have been watching more and more modern dance videos, and I have been most inspired by pole routines that incorporate modern dance elements.  Sometimes it seems like many pole dancers (including myself) all share the same moves – especially when it comes to floor work – so I really wanted to get away from that and add some more creative moves into my repertoire.

So despite the trouble I had on the first two days of modern dance, I really wanted to continue with it.  Unfortunately however, I learned yesterday that I have to take another class for my major that conflicts with the only time the dance class is offered.  I still want learn more about modern dance in the future, but now it looks like I will have to wait.  At the same time, after my experience with this one teacher, I can’t help but wonder: are all modern dance classes like this?

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