Making Dance
Louisa Fish-Sadin ’08, High School Faculty

By Louisa Fish-Sadin ’08, High School Faculty

"You do not learn to choreograph by reading about it, hearing about it, or by watching the major companies in concert. You learn by choreographing, by experimenting, by creating little bits and pieces and fragments of dances and dance phrases, by playing with the materials of the craft over and over again … You learn by getting your ideas out and into movement, onto a body (yours or someone else's), giving your dance an independent existence." 

— Blom and Chaplin, The Intimate Act of Choreography

We started the semester by reading the above quote, which has guided everything we have done this semester in Dance: The Creative Process. After a brief warmup (ranging from Russian folk dances to jazzercise to core workouts), we jump into the work of choreography. For the first several weeks of the semester, students would ask me “what are we doing next time in class?” Students finally figured out that my answer was always exactly the same: “Well, we’ll start by making some dances, and then we’ll make some dances, and finally we’ll make some more dances!”

Dance: The Creative Process is a high school course in which students grow as dance artists, developing comfort with improvisation and honing their skills at making dance. The final projects from the course will be performed at Forest Ridge’s DanceFest, a yearly celebration of dance created, directed, and performed by our students. (Come check in out on February 7th and 8th in the Lee Theatre!)

During the semester, students have created phrases, solos, trios, and large group pieces, from small fragments to complete works. They’re particularly excited to get to the production stage of their final projects—lights and costumes and scenery!

Each day of class I am moved, intrigued, and inspired by the students’ work. I’ve seen narrative works, including a moving piece based on the Spanish classes’ ofrenda in our Chapel, a beat-driven hip-hop piece about the Salem Witch Trials, a formation-focused dance about a printing press gone wrong, and an eerie waltz based on a famous painting. I’ve seen abstract dances, including a solo based on a soup recipe, a unison dance using a table as a prop, and a trio based on the word “population.” Students are using dance to make statements about issues they care about, from gun violence to mental health. They are giving themselves a chance to be silly at the end of a long day of school. They bring care and conviction to their art, and they take risks in the service of meaning. I can see the way dance-making empowers them and gives them new ways of interacting with the world, their bodies, and their peers.

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