The ethos has yielded more success than I'd allowed myself to anticipate. But I wanted more. The quality of the practice, whilst good for individual consumption, was not yet on par with my higher ambitions for them. So tonight I upped the ante.
Exercise 1: Rhythm virtualisation, boogaloo, solo
Solo, to music. Caribbean sway basic, atiempo embodiment rhythm. Single shaker, played into the opposing palm, boogaloo rhythm (beats 4 & 2). Participants were encouraged to listen to the shaker rhythm, memorise its timbre and timing, then mentally maintain it through sporadically stopping and resuming the playing of the shaker.
Exercise 2: Rhythm virtualisation, boogaloo, partnered
Partnered, Caribbean hold, to music. Caribbean sway basic, atiempo embodiment rhythm. Since they were in hold, no shakers were played; thus there was a reliance on the mental articulation of the boogaloo rhythm.
The emphasis was on maintaining the virtual sound of the rhythm in the mind. This was targeted though my calls of: "boogaloo off", when mental articulation was suspended; and "boogaloo on", when mental articulation resumed.
First Cycle Outcomes
Participants were perturbed in their personal mental articulation of rhythm because of the addition of a significant real-life variable: a dance partner.
They found it challenging to maintain the virtual boogaloo backbeat in the presence of additional noise/vibration. One participant called it a complete "eye-opener", illuminating the stringency to which Exercise 1 (above) had to be performed.
With this new clarity of purpose still ringing in their minds, I charged them to pay better attention to their execution of the solo rhythm virtualisation practice to the purpose of rhythmic resilience.
Exercise 1, repeated twice
A participant asked as to what level to insulate himself from external rhythmic input.
I iterated that the exercise was, at this basic level, to develop rhythmic resilience of the self. If that meant a complete rejection of external rhythmic input was necessary, then so be it. I cautioned that in the long-term, the rejection approach would lead to an imperative, non-collaborative, partner relationship. Hence it is necessary that all dancers become so self-resilient that they would accommodate with high levels of external noise/vibration.
Exercise 2, repeated once
Second Cycle Outcomes
Participants displayed and reported markedly less rhythmic perturbation. Moreover, they were showing signs that they were:
- negotiating rhythms with their partners, observed by the quality of establishment of partnered synchrony at early "boogaloo on"; and
- meshing the embodiment rhythm with the boogaloo back-beat into a personal compound time-code, observed through their rhythmic placement and attack, and consistency.
The value of any exercise lies not simply in the skills it develops, but equally in the understanding of its possible applications. This means that hindsight provides a powerful lens through which an exercise's value can be appreciated. Tonight's experience is a case in point.
The realm of instruction centres on the setting and attainment of achievable goals. One elemental question a teacher faces is, "when can we move in?"
For its ability to illuminate Clarity of Purpose, Hindsight is a potent ally.
Yeo Loo Yen