After ballet class today we went to watch a Folk dance technique class with one of the pedagogy classes. Rosario, the teacher, explained how the class learn more repertory rather than working on choreographing their own folk dances because a lot of them would like to go on to do teaching and performing. We ended up watching the class, after Rosario approached us asking us if we were the students from Falmouth. We found out that she had taught a workshop at Falmouth University a couple of years previous and she was very pleased to meet us, as we were to meet her too. She invited us to one of her classes and we were more than happy to go along and observe.
The first piece was from the Basque Country in the north of Spain, and it was a happy piece for children. It involved the use of clicking with the fingers and working in partners, with a male and female role. We then observed a piece from the region of Murcia which involved the use of castanets. They play the castanets with their arms in first position and it included lots of footsteps forwards and backwards, whilst playing their castanets to the tune of the music. Then we watched a folk dance from Galicia ‘Muiñeira de Seixo’ which went back to using clicking of the fingers and a male and female role. The movement slightly differed from that of the Basque dance though as the arm positions were different and it included more circular pathways as well as forward and backward movement with partners. I also noticed the music reminded me a lot of the Scottish bagpipes and thought it may be interesting to look more into the music that accompanies these folk dances. Finally we watched them rehearse another Basque country folk dance. I noted down the format of the dance as Rosario described it to the students
‘ 1) 2×8 Saludos (Similar to bowing to your partner to open the piece)
2) Cruces (cross) and high 5 with your partner diagonal to you
3) Round in a circle then stop in original position.
4) Repeat cruces and high 5’s
5) Saludos with original partner from the beginning
6) Cruces to finish. ‘
This is the format the piece took, and subtle changes of rhythm in the music signalled when the changes came in the dance, so the students had to listen closely to the accompaniment.
Finally, Rosario asked us to go up and have a go with the students in the learning of a new piece. I had the part of a Chico (Man) and so in Saludos I would offer to the Chica (Woman) in a small bow like gesture and the Chicas hold their skirts to curtsey in return. First we perform the opening saludos with our partner and then turn to the partner next to us and take hold (Right arms out straight, other arm around partners waist). We spin round with our partner for one count then return to the beginning saludos with our original partner. We rehearsed this a few times before the end of class
It was lovely to be able to observe the class today and also take part as it was nice to learn a little more about different regions dance styles. I am really interested in cultural dance, particularly Spanish dance styles. It was really useful to get an insight into these styles today and I hope to observe the class again to further my knowledge. I would also be very interested in learning basic Castanets as I think they have an amazing sound and bring dancers together in a performance. I would like to explore the use of creating your own accompaniment whilst dancing, as I have never danced with sound in this way before.
Here is a copy of a page from my notes about folklore.