Video transcript
The Arts Unit @home Art Bites - Creative composition for the home - Contemporary dance with Angela Hamilton

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[music playing]

ANGELA HAMILTON: So, I'm going to be giving you a four-part series of creative tasks to do in your house. So, there are going to be four different tasks. Each one will be set in a space in your house. And the focus is going to be on using your creativity to make something interesting in a confined space.

So, we're used to doing contemporary dance in big, wide, open spaces, but also a huge part of contemporary dance is learning how to tell a story and use more subtle, small movements, gestural movements to convey a message. So, we also need to be really good at that. So, this is a great opportunity for you guys to explore that, experiment with that, and play around, and find new skills, find new ways to convey meaning through your movement without having to spread out and do big, wide, open movements.

So, Task 1, you're going to be using your couch. So, the idea is that you're melting into the couch. Yeah. So, you're using the couch. You're using the feel of the couch. You're using the feel of your body in contact with the couch. You're melting into the couch, but you're also pressing against the couch.

So, the story is, yeah, I want you to convey a story, that you can't quite find a comfortable position to be on your couch. I'm sure we can all relate to this, had times where can't quite get the cushions right, or are a bit sore, or just something isn't right, and we can't get comfortable. So, that's the theme of what you're going to explore.

And then the use of movement that you're going to use is this idea of melting into the couch like you've just found somewhere comfortable, and then it becomes uncomfortable again. Yeah. And then we're pressing against, using the structure, the hard surfaces of the couch to press against, find interesting positions. Yeah. So, it's this contrast between pushing against and finding different, awkward positions, and then that melting, and just getting comfortable until you're uncomfortable again.

So, I'm just going to give you a little bit of an improvised demonstration now. So, when we're working with our couch, you want to use the structural points to press against and create shapes. So, that would usually be on your armrest, or the back of the couch, or any bits that stick out that have a bit more of a hard surface.

And then, of course, you're melting and using the cushioning in the couch to do your melting and moving around. So, when you're melting and moving around, I want you to really think about sinking in and giving your weight to the surface that you're working with, OK? So, when we're pressing against, yeah, so I can use the hard bit. I'm going to press against to make a shape.

And then I use the soft. I'm going to soften and melt. Yeah, press against, hard shape. Press against, hard shape. Yeah. And then melt. Melt, melt, melt.

I can press against. Maybe you can use the wall if you're allowed, but otherwise finding the hard parts. Yeah. Melt.

Yeah, might get a bit crazy, things falling on you, cushions. You can use the cushions if you like. Yeah. So, we're really, just tidying up my couch.

So, we're really melting. Try to give way into the softness. Try to find really awkward positions. Try to steer away from movements that you know already so we're not just creating a dance that we already know and just putting it onto the couch.

I really want you to work with the couch. Yeah. Create this story. Try to find comfortable positions. And then just when you're about to get comfortable, it gets uncomfortable again. And that's when you find those hard surfaces, the structural surfaces to push against.

Yeah. And create some interesting shapes. Really try to create interesting shapes. OK. So, I hope that you have fun. And I look forward to giving you the next task.

[music playing]

Hey, guys. So, welcome to Task 2. This task is going to be based on a table, or it can be a bench, anything that is a table-like surface, OK? So, you want to make sure that your table is safe. You want to make sure that you have permission to use the table.

We want something nice and steady. We're not going to be jumping up on the table or anything like that, but you still want something nice and sturdy that isn't going to tip over or anything like that. This one's made of glass. Probably shouldn't be made of glass, but this is all I've got at the moment. But I'm not going to do anything crazy in my demonstration.

So, the task is going to be a gestural task. So, gestural means conveying a message with your hands. So, when we talk, naturally people use their hands when they talk. These are called gestures. Yeah.

So, can also think of sign language a little bit as gestural hand movement. OK. And we do a lot of that in contemporary dance. So, I think it's very important to learn how to do it really well, to learn how to do it with meaning, and to also understand how to give meaning to very minuscule, subtle movement. So, this is going to be a great task for that. So, here it goes.

So, the task is going to be mainly using the surface of your table or bench. So, I want you to be very connected to the surface. And you're going to be telling a story. The story is up to you. So, it can be a very, very simple story, something that you create. And then you're going to be telling the story through your gestures, yeah, in an abstract way.

So, I don't want it to be too literal, yeah, so literal as in saying exactly what you mean, like an exact translation. So, you want to make it a little abstract, yeah, a little weird or complicated a little bit more so it looks quite interesting. So, the viewer doesn't exactly know what the story is, but maybe they have some idea, even if it's just their own idea of what it might be.

So, I'll give you an example. Let's say my story is I went to the park and I encountered a magical creature. The magical creature gave me a special treasure. And I'm going to unlock that treasure. Yeah.

The treasure is a little thing that I can open, I can unlock. I'm going to unlock the treasure and then discover what's inside. So, I'm just going to improvise a little bit here.

So, that was just a little bit of an improvised little burst there, yeah, just to give you an idea of what gestural movement actually is. So, for me, I was sort of just feeling the memory of the story. I wasn't really telling the story exactly.

It was just giving a sense of the story, what I felt the story was inside, but without actually telling the story I went for a walk. I saw a magical creature. So, if you did something like that, that would be more literal. So, I want you to be really creative and try to get quite abstract with it.

Try to also play with your dynamics as much as you can. So, dynamics would be changing the speeds of things, yeah, so going slow and then quick, quick. Yeah, so dynamic and speed.

You can use stillness. Stillness is a great way to draw a dynamic into a movement, also using textures in your movements so having smooth, yeah, sharp. You can have rough or resisted, yeah, all this stuff that we have learnt over the years in our improvisation training at State Dance. But have a play around here. Explore your own dynamics.

So, think of textures. Yeah. Think of all the different types of textures that we can draw into our movement, speeds, stillness. You can also play around with dynamics in rhythms and percussion. Perhaps you want to use the table to make a sound. Yeah.

The world is your oyster. Yeah. There's no rules, no right or wrong. This is just a guideline. So, I'm giving you, this is a base to work with.

And then you can do whatever you want, really. The sky is the limit. Be creative. Have fun. And go for it, guys. I'll see you for the next task.

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