Dance Notes 15th February 2019

Dance Notes 15th February 2019

Welcome back!

Students in Grade One continued to consider how creativity could be harnessed when developing movement. They played with positive and negative space, developing interesting shapes. This will be a continued focus in the coming week.

Students in Grade Three are putting together their section of a grade level dance that will be performed in Spotlight. After working on describing the CDNIS culture, they put together a series of movements that they felt matched those words. Then they figured out how well their movements fit to their section of the music and refined and edited their ideas accordingly. A few grades narrowed down everyone’s work to three key steps and then developed short sequences using those three steps. Other grades preferred showcasing their own ideas.

Students in Prep also worked with positive and negative space, and did some drumming using their hands instead of an instrument. They are being encouraged to move freely in different ways when music is playing which has been successful.

LS and US Dance groups looked at their LNY performances, figuring what worked well and what, in an ideal world, they would change. LS Dance group has decided on their next piece of music and started choreography for their next performances. US Dance group are wavering between a few musical choices but have a good idea of the kinds of movements they wish to use.

An Artist in Residence, Mr Bill Bowers, was in school this week, working with the second grade students. Grades 1-3 were lucky enough to watch him perform. Mr Bowers is a Mime, working in the tradition of Marcel Marceau and Charlie Chaplin. This rare and astounding art form uses movement and silence to create stories. Students were spellbound.

Have a lovely weekend, all!

Dance Notes 1st Feb 2019

Dance Notes 1st Feb 2019

Happy New Year!

We finally made it. Despite setbacks, difficulties, surprises, illnesses and the usual trying to squeeze fifty hours of learning into five, we got to this point on the calendar. Is the Nian a real monster, or does it represent the challenges and slog that we all face, and we must try to defeat these obstacles in order to head into the new year positively? Something to think about…..

A quieter week for Prep (is that possible???) We spent some time looking at how Laban grouped his 8 movements into Percussive, Vibratory, Sustained and Swinging subsets. The students were excellent at identifying which movements belonged in which groups and viewing examples helped their own ideas and creativity when they moved.

Grade 1 continued to explore what creativity means to them when moving. They were invited to view some of Twist and Pulse’s choreography (available on Youtube) as this dance duo is extremely creative, twisting story and dance in an engaging and artistic way.

Grade 3 were invited to come up with a “first draft” of movement sequences that described the culture of CDNIS from the students’ perspectives. There were some *great* ideas! You will see this in their coming Spotlight!

This week was performance week for US and LS dance groups – LS did their butterfly piece and US their hip hop piece at the Lunar New Year shows. They can be proud of their self-choreographed work. Coming up – LS are hoping to perform at a DDDFFF and US at an evening of the arts. Stay tuned!

Have an amazing holiday everyone! We hit the ground running when we get back!!! Gong Xi Fa Chai/Gong He Fat Choy!

Dance Notes 26 Jan 2019

Dance Notes 26 Jan 2019

Another busy week smashes into the world.

Grade One continues to work with the idea of creativity, experimenting with movement, shape and space in different and spontaneous ways.

Grade Three has further explored space and time, this time using a Korean dance clip to inspire them. Some classes were able to move on to considering this question: If CDNIS was a country, what would its culture be like? This idea will move on to exploring choreography that matches. Stay tuned.

Prep students have revisited drumming (to GongXi Ni), movement (Laban) and song (greeting action songs). Some further introductory work is being done for their Spotlight.

Students in the LS Dance Troupe and the US Dance Squad are madly preparing for their performances. Considering they had around 7 sessions in total to complete their dance pieces, and recent school events have removed their final opportunities, they have done well. The Dress Rehearsal starting at 2.45 this coming Wednesday is a chance for parents to watch their dance piece.

Not long til the New Year break and a well deserved rest for everyone.


Aaaand We’re Back! Dance Notes 12th and 18th January 2019

Aaaand We’re Back! Dance Notes 12th and 18th January 2019

Well, thinking I would actually get a post out last week was somewhat ambitious. One needs time for that! Here goes for this week – even busier, but let’s see. One thing is for sure – it will be loooooong.

Coming back from the break, a new group of classes began.

Grade 1 is working on developing creativity through improvisation. Students started by talking about their understandings of what creativity is and when people can be creative. They were encouraged to write, draw, discuss and share. They then began thinking about how to move in their space in creative ways. Quick, spontaneous movements were encouraged to remove constraints – not “this is what I should do”, but “I’m doing THIS!” The next few lessons involved movement with and without a partner, exploring how their body could move in a variety of ways. A couple of lessons had to be re-planned due to the loss of the dance studio for sports requirements and some lessons are to be rescheduled as I was the person in charge of an Artist in Residence (read – no breaks for any reason), but overall the theme of creativity has been maintained. Over the next few weeks, improvisation will play a key role in assisting students to understand, appreciate and willingly explore movement.

Grade 3 is looking at how dance reflects cultural values, beliefs and expectations. They were invited to answer the questions “Why do people dance?” and “What does dance show about culture?” Ideas included dance tells stories, shows faith, entertains and teaches. From there, students started watching dance clips that showed just those ideas and then were invited to explore ways in which they would move to show these ideas. This will be the bulk of their exploration over the next couple of weeks, before they start to choreograph. A day was taken out of regular lessons for the Artist in Residence – more on that below.

Prep students were asked for their ideas on the coming Spotlight in April. As they now know the 8 qualities of movement from Laban, we have started working on dance elements, (use of Body, Space, Time, Energy and Relationships in movement) incorporating Laban into those elements. The first week the focus was on use of space – above, below and around. Large and small groupings in their space was investigated. This has been followed by locating their place in space consistently. Further greeting songs with related actions have been shared. Instruments are currently being rested as they were a large focus in recent months.

The Young Americans came! This year they worked with grades 6 AND 5. Mrs Butler was the teacher in charge and literally worked from dawn to dusk ensuring the days ran smoothly and efficiently. The YAs come from a performing arts university in the States and tour the world as part of their programme, teaching younger children in multiple countries. CDNIS has had a long relationship with them and it is wonderful to see them return, getting our students moving, creating, singing and dancing with joy and confidence in an intense two or three day programme. Grade 6 had an evening performance for their families and Grade 5 an afternoon show.

The Artist in Residence for G3 and 4 was the Cris Derksen Trio. A performing group from Canada, the Trio was here in Hong Kong performing in different events around the city – and we were lucky enough to have them for their final day. In a word, they were AWESOME. Ms Derksen played the cello and showed the students how she made interesting sounds using her cello and electronic equipment to create loops and echoes. Mr Osawamick showed the children how to do basic Pow Wow steps and wowed his audiences with the grace and complexity of his hoop dance. Mr Baird showed the children how drumming matched the heartbeat and how they could all drum in unison while Ms Derksen played and Mr Osawamick danced. You can see more about them here: and photos/film can be accessed here.

The ASAs have had a few disruptions due to breaks and learning reviews but the US ASA students completed their number during an extra rehearsal this week. The students blew me away with their dedication. Look for them on the live stream or come to the dress rehearsal on Wednesday Jan 30 starting at 2.45pm

The LS ASA due to disruption has yet to complete their number and the final 30 seconds or so will be a focus in the coming week, with some rehearsals during their lunch break (and mine). I spent Learning Review days making their antennae and blinging up wings in between the 40 odd interviews. I have to thank Mr Ko for ordering resources (including custom made leotards as per the girls’ wishes), Mrs Butler for sewing on the wings, and Ms Rubaiya for her ideas and suggestions during wing-bling time – and of course the girls for happily providing their wishes during the design stage. Several parts of their dance has been self choreographed – see if you can spot which parts!

Due to the intense amount of work hours lately, I am running slightly behind with photo and film uploads. However, keep an eye out as footage is going up, albeit slowly.

Our featured image shows two third grade students’ thoughts on dance.

Dance Notes 14th December 2018

Dance Notes 14th December 2018

Performances DONE AND DUSTED! Students in grade four and six classes were invited to share their pieces with teachers and admin during their dance class time this week, with pleasing results. Below is a summary of the lead up and the performances for each year level.

Grade 4

Students chose a variety of messages and a variety of genre. Across the year level, there were a several sets of contemporary pieces. One group attempted to use the hip hop battle format for their message, some students used disco, one group used cha cha. Some students used sport moves with the dance elements. One group went cheerleader style for the letters CDNIS. In all, there was serious consideration to how a genre could reinforce their message. This then influenced *which* moves the students chose. Overall, the routines were logical interpretations of their message in movement. Students were also encouraged to make choices about music and many groups chose music that strongly supported their messages and choreography. Check their performances here! As always, please do not share outside of the school community.

4A Performances

4B Performances

4C Performances

4D Performances

4E Performances

(All music chosen by grade 4 students, and all filming done by grade 4 students).

Grade 6

Students created excellent physical theatre pieces with good use of dance elements. They began to change how they approached their piece as they gained proficiency in the movements they learned and chose to use. Adding music created a substantial change to several groups as they suddenly seemed to gain extra depth. Feeling and movement connected well. Many students created a tension through focus and tempo and use of space that contributed to the idea of passion. Included are the performances – have a look! Please do not share outside of the CDNIS community.

6A Performances

6B Performances

6C Performances

6D Performances

6E Performances

(Music choices were: Mozart – Lacrimosa, MagnusTheMagnus – Area, CellDweller – First Person Shooter, Zimmerman – The Battle)

Prep students are focusing on Christmas songs in preparation for next week’s singalong. Clear favourites are Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Jingle Bell Rock. Practicing the Crazy Santa Dance is also popular.

US Dance group had a new student join this week. His level of commitment and willingness to do his best was inspiring. He contributed some excellent ideas to the choreography.

LS Dance group continued working on their butterfly dance this week. The base of their costumes arrived late last week and they were asked to try it on. Wings and bling to come!

Dance Notes 7th of December

Dance Notes 7th of December

Countdown til the end!

Grade 4 spent this week choosing music to go with their message choreography. They were quite passionate about their choices and it was lovely to see the different ideas they brought forward. They were then able to practice using their music as I spent some time in the evenings uploading their choices to ipads for that purpose.

Grade 6 has also been looking at music to go with their performances. They were given a number of choices that could go with their expressive intent of “passion” and from there they were able to try the different tunes. It was interesting to see how the quality of their choreography altered in energy, tempo or interactions depending on the quality of the music.

Prep students spent some time matching movement to music for a little action dance based on the fairy tale The Elves and the Shoemaker. They also explored the final Laban quality of movement – the twist. The second half of the week we commenced our Christmas songs in preparation for the winter singalong.

The US Dance Squad is a third of the way through their number for Lunar New Year. (Not bad for two sessions!) They took five minutes out to discuss what they might be wearing today.

The LS Dance Troupe is well into their dance for Lunar New Year and very excited about their coming costumes. A big thank you to Mr Ko for taking care of the ordering!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Dance Notes 30 November 2018

Dance Notes 30 November 2018

A somewhat calmer week for our students…

Grade 6 students were away on camp this week. When they come back it is the final stretch before their pieces are shown to their teachers and vice principals.

Grade 4 students continued choreographing for the first part of the week but the second part of the week they took a well earned break by watching four dance pieces, each containing a message. Two of the dances come from the group Twist and Pulse, a youtube based duo whose work is family friendly and excellently delivered. The students were encouraged to talk about what they saw, connecting messages to dance moves, real life events, choreographic device use and how characterisation is expressed in dance. This break should help them move forward for their final few practices as they too are showing teachers and administration their creations.

Prep students learned a new dance related to the Elves and the Shoemaker. A pattern dance, it involves connecting movements to certain kinds of music and the use of repetition. As some students were not familiar with the story, we took five minutes out to watch a version of the tale from online sources. Pattern work has continued in drum exploration, with children encouraged to listen to each other and try and make their drum beats match. A greeting song involving actions was introduced last week and students have been enjoying that this week. Finally, another Laban movement was explored, with students thinking about how force and tempo contributed to a punching movement.

US and LS dance groups performed over the weekend at the Family Fun Fair. They are now starting on their Lunar New Year pieces, with US dancers picking a combination between hiphop and contemporary and LS students doing something more contemporary (with some students expressing a desire to add in their acrobatic talents).

So in all, calmer yes, but no less thorough.

Enjoy your weekend!


Dance Notes 23rd November 2018

Dance Notes 23rd November 2018

How quickly the end of the calendar year approaches!

Grade 6 students are completing their physical theatre dance pieces so that they do not have to worry while they are away at camp. On return they will just remember, rehearse and perform.

Grade 4 students are at a similar place, but as they have more time, we are working on connecting their ideas more deeply to their assessment rubric and seeing how well their message is conveyed. Students spent this week making goals off the rubric, working on those goals and deciding results at the end of the class.

Prep students learned a new greeting song and a new Laban movement this week. Some time was spent investigating film of dances (animated) to try and identify what Laban movements were there.

The Family Fun Fair is this weekend and our LS Dance Troupe and US Dance Squad will be performing! Come see us!