dancers

Dance Performances

Nine performance video segments demonstrate a variety of dance styles. Host David Thurmond introduces each segment with background information and ideas for what to look for in each dance.

What Is Dance?

David Thurmond, dance educator and former dancer with the Louisville Ballet, defines dance, introduces the elements of dance, and offers suggestions on how performance video can be used for student exploration of dance. Excerpts from dance performances included on the Dance Performances video are shown to illustrate his comments.

Suggested Uses:
Use as an introduction to viewing other excerpts.
Use as an introduction to a dance unit.

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Lucky Day

In the introduction, host David Thurmond gives background on modern dance and notes that “Lucky Day” is also a good example of the merging of art and athleticism. This modern dance, choreographed by Kelly Gottesman and performed by Marc Morizumi, expresses a feeling of elation through movement. The dancer is the character the Contrary from Kentuckian Daniel Dutton’s dance opera The Secret Commonwealth. The Contrary embodies a free spirit who mocks and rejects repression and conformity.

Suggested Uses:
As the focus of a student analysis of dance elements and theme (with Responding to Dance).
Compare to two other modern dance performances in the toolkit, “Hot” and “The Graveyard.”
To demonstrate characteristics of modern dance. (Show with DanceSense Program 8 and/or “Dance Vocabulary/Basic Positions” from the DanceSense Enhanced collection.)
To show how choreographers and dancers convey feelings through movement.
Compare this “character dance” to the Arabian and Chinese dances from The Nutcracker.

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Iye, Iye

In the introduction, host David Thurmond discusses the contributions of African Americans to dance in America. He tells students to watch for movements similar to those in contemporary social dances. He also explains “isolations” and tells students to look for examples of these movements. In the performance, the Imani Dance and Drum Company performs a traditional harvest dance of the Senoufo and Minianka people who live in Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and the northern part of Ghana. The “Iye, Iye” dance lasts all night when the harvest is good, but is short when the harvest is bad. The musicians do a call and response with the drum. The dancers enter according to age, with the youngest entering first. The white fabric in the hands of the women dancers represents the harvest of cotton. When men dance this dance, they do not wear shirts, so they can display the sweat it takes to harvest a field. The dancers turn in all four directions to give thanks. Harlina Churn-Diallo choreographed this performance. Yaya Diallo, Terah Israel, and Ethan Israel drum. The dancers are Harlina Churn-Diallo, Ayana Kena Churn, Mone’t Bullard, and Danelle Wright.

Suggested Uses:
As an example of African dance.
Compare to the other examples of African dance in the toolkit: the “West African Dance” segments and “African Dance Performances” on The African Root.
As the focus of a student analysis of dance elements and theme (with Responding to Dance).
As part of a social studies unit on African culture.
To stimulate discussion of the influence of African dance on American dance.

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Heat/Ode to Sabrina

In the introduction, host David Thurmond gives background on jazz dance and its connection to jazz music. He tells students to watch the two jazz dance excerpts for the way in which the choreographer uses space; specifically, how the male dancers in the first excerpt seem to be running but are actually staying in one place and, in the second excerpt, how the dancers create the illusion of zigzag lines. These two excerpts of jazz dance performances show a range of moods and movements. Both dances were choreographed by Hannah Stilwell and are performed by dancers with the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks company, based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Suggested Uses:
As the focus of a student analysis of dance elements and theme (with Responding to Dance).
Compare the two excerpts to each other, or compare either to other dance performances in the toolkit.
To demonstrate characteristics of jazz dance. (Show with DanceSense Program 9, “Dance Vocabulary/Basic Positions” from the DanceSense Enhanced DVD, and/or “Jazz/Tap: Jazz Arts at Western Kentucky University” from the DanceSense Enhanced collection.)
To show how choreographers and dancers convey feelings through movement.
Compare “Heat” to the modern dance “Hot” in terms of how the choreographer conveys a theme.
To analyze production elements.

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The Graveyard

In the introduction, host David Thurmond notes that dance helps us express feelings that are hard to express in words; for example, “The Graveyard” asks us to confront irrational fears. This dance features the two main characters from Kentuckian Daniel Dutton’s dance opera The Secret Commonwealth Part 1: The Changeling and the Bear. The Changeling is a curious child whose dreams and imaginative adventures are the story thread of the opera. He becomes friends with a Bear. As the two friends pass a graveyard, they begin to imagine ghosts—and, as this dance illustrates, they transform their fear into fun. The dance was choreographed by Kelly Gottesman, who dances as the Changeling. The Bear is danced by Mike Walsh, and the ghosts are Michelle Bump and Elodie Andrews. The dance opens with a painting by opera creator Daniel Dutton.

Suggested Uses:
As the focus of a student analysis of dance elements and theme (with Responding to Dance).
Compare to the other modern dance performances in the toolkit, “Hot” and “Lucky Day.”
To demonstrate characteristics of modern dance. (Show with DanceSense Program 8 and/or “Dance Vocabulary/Basic Positions” from the DanceSense Enhanced collection.)
To show how choreographers and dancers convey feelings through movement.
To discuss elements of production.

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Bluegrass Clogging

In the introduction, host David Thurmond tells how clogging came to America and how shoes with taps evolved. He tells students to note that the dancing emphasizes movements below the waist and to look for movements that resemble square dancing. In the performance, champion cloggers Stacy McWethy, Trevor DeWitt, Cirsty Corwin, and Zach Davis from the Kentucky Cloggers show off their skills to music by Hog Operation.

Suggested Uses:
As the focus of a student analysis of dance elements and theme (with Responding to Dance).
Compare to the other examples of percussive dance in the toolkit: “Farruca” and “Jamaica Funk” on Dance Performances and “Three Irish Dances” on the DanceSense Enhanced collection.
To demonstrate percussive dance. (Show DanceSense Program 10.)
As part of a study of Appalachian culture.

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Jamaica Funk

In the introduction, host David Thurmond discusses how European step dances and jigs and African rhythm both influenced tap dance and how tap continues to absorb elements from American culture. He tells students to look for influences of hip-hop in this dance performance. It was choreographed by Jared Grimes, who is joined onstage by Micah Geyer, Tipton Isenhour, Emily Shoemaker, Aftan Freeman, Kelly Dodson, Robert Perera, and other members of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble. This nonprofit company performs locally, nationally, and internationally. The young dancers are selected by audition each season.

Suggested Uses:
As the focus of a student analysis of dance elements and theme (with Responding to Dance).
Compare to other examples of percussive dance in the toolkit: “Bluegrass Clogging” and “Farruca” on Dance Performances and “Three Irish Dances” on the DanceSense Enhanced collection.
To demonstrate characteristics of tap dance. (Show with DanceSense Program 10.)

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Farruca

In the introduction, host David Thurmond explains the origins of flamenco dance and its worldwide appeal. He tells students to note the interplay among dancer, guitarist, and clapper; the sounds the dancer’s heels make as they click on the floor; the dancer’s erect posture; and how she uses her arms to embellish the dance. This dance is an example of a “farruca,” one of the song forms of flamenco. The musicians and dancer make the piece original by improvising around the traditional structure. This example of farruca is performed by the Kentucky flamenco company Dos Aguas. The dancer, Diana Dinicola, also choreographed the dance. The music was written by guitarist Gareth Jones and bass player Sidney King. Another dancer/choreographer from Dos Aguas, Mariya Tarakanova, is the clapper, helping keep time. Farruca was traditionally a man’s dance, but in the 1930s and ’40s, great gypsy dancer Carmen Amaya shocked the flamenco world by appearing in male costume (pants) and dancing the farruca. She opened the way for today’s women flamenco dancers to adopt the flashy footwork and aggressive moves once reserved for men. Dinicola says that in this dance she also incorporates more traditionally feminine movements, such as graceful rotations of the wrists and arms, where the music is softer and more lyric—dancing not as a woman pretending to be a man, but as “a woman dancing a strong, aggressive dance as a woman.”

Suggested Uses:
As the focus of a student analysis of dance elements and theme (with Responding to Dance).
Compare to other examples of percussive dance in the toolkit: “Bluegrass Clogging” and “Jamaica Funk” on Dance Performances and “Three Irish Dances” on the DanceSense Enhanced collection.
To demonstrate characteristics of percussive dance. (Show with DanceSense Program 10.)

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Arabian and Chinese Dances from The Nutcracker

In the introduction, host David Thurmond shows a pair of point shoes and explains how they enable a ballerina to dance on her toes. He tells students to compare the tempo, mood, and energy in the two dances. He also notes that these are not authentic representations of the two cultures, but were included in the ballet as entertainments and to showcase dancers’ skills. The performance shows the Arabian and Chinese dances from The Nutcracker, a holiday favorite that debuted in 1892. Performed to music by Tchaikovsky and based on the book The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman, it’s the story of a young girl named Clara who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King. The Arabian and Chinese dances are from the second act, in which the Prince takes Clara to the Land of Sweets, where she is entertained by a celebration of dances. This performance was choreographed by Xi Jun Fu of Kentucky Ballet Theatre and features Rebecca Ratliff as the Arabian dancer and Christine Elmo as the Chinese dancer.

Suggested Uses:
As the focus of a student analysis of dance elements and theme (with Responding to Dance).
As an example of sharp and smooth movements.
Compare to examples of modern and/or jazz dance in the toolkit.
Compare to another “character dance” in the toolkit, “Lucky Day” on Dance Performances.
To demonstrate and explore characteristics of ballet. (Show DanceSense Program 7, “Helen Starr” on the DanceSense Enhanced collection, and/or “Dance Vocabulary/Basic Positions” on the DanceSense Enhanced collection.

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Hot

In the introduction, host David Thurmond asks students to brainstorm how they would convey the idea of heat through color, choreography, tempo, and attitude. He tells students to note how the elements of performance and production convey this idea in the dance. The character in this concluding dance from Part 1 of Kentuckian Daniel Dutton’s dance opera The Secret Commonwealth represents a flame that leaps from the Storyteller’s fire and dances with the other characters in the story. The dance was choreographed by Kelly Gottesman and features dancer Michelle Bump, joined by an array of other characters from the Secret Commonwealth Ensemble.

Suggested Uses:
As the focus of a student analysis of dance elements and theme (with Responding to Dance).
Compare to other modern dance performances in the toolkit: “Lucky Day” and “The Graveyard.”
To demonstrate characteristics of modern dance. (Show with DanceSense Program 8 and/or “Dance Vocabulary/Basic Positions” from the DanceSense Enhanced collection.)
Compare to the jazz dance “Heat” on Dance Performances in terms of how the choreographer conveys a theme.
To analyze elements of production.

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