September 1, 2016

Opening Doors with Dance

Welcome to the summer edition of Oakwood Dance News! As we kick off a new school year, let’s take a moment to look back at the end of the 2015–2016 year. Read students reflections on their experiences in Middle School Dance Co. and Modern 2 and learn about The Big Show Co.’s residence at Oakwood!

The Middle School Dance Co. Experience

By Middle School Dance Co.: Charlotte, Charlotte, Pearl, Miranda, Sutton, Lola, and Sienna

You walk into the dance studio on your first day of middle school dance class. You’re nervous and not sure what to expect—but you like to dance and you’re excited to learn. You see a few familiar faces and some new faces of other students—and one enthusiastic teacher. She explains the class and you realize that there are a multitude of doors that will open in the next trimester.

Middle School Dance Co.

The first door that opens is FRIENDSHIP. The friendships that you already have deepen, and you make new friends because of the intimate nature of the art form.

The second door that opens is IMPROVISATION. Improv can be scary and challenging however, if you open yourself up to it, it can help you get in touch with your true inner self and it creates endless possibilities for new choreography.

This leads us to open the next door, which is INDIVIDUALITY. In dance class, you’re encouraged to add your own unique touch to movement and to create dance moves that you have never seen before. You’re allowed to be yourself.

The next door that opens is COLLABORATION. The best dance material comes from the ability to work with others. Someone might have an idea, and someone else might have an idea that builds on the first idea. In this way, we create amazing dances! And sometimes we even surprise ourselves with what we come up with!

The next door that opens is TECHNIQUE. The Oakwood dance program balances all the above doors of self discovery with learning proper dance technique—and that’s what makes our dance program different from other schools—we are allowed to be ourselves while we still develop skills. We have all noticed our technique has developed through practice and individualized corrections from our teacher.

The last door that opens is LEADERSHIP. With “stretch circles,” creating choreography to teach the rest of the class, and small group assignments we all have opportunities to develop as leaders.

It’s the last day of dance class. You’re no longer nervous. You feel safe and confident. You’re proud of yourself for growing into the dancer you have become. You feel like you have a whole new skill set that you can take into the rest of your life. You can’t wait till next trimester to start dance class all over again.

Middle School Dance CrewMiddle School Dance CrewMiddle School Dance Crew

Click through to see photos of Middle School Dance Co. and Middle School Dance Crew

The Big Show Co. in Residence at Oakwood School Dance Program

On Monday, June 13, 2016 Oakwood Faculty Arianne MacBean’s Big Show Co. offered a day of master classes to Modern 2, Introduction to Performing Arts, and Middle School Dance Crew. The workshops led students through creative problem-solving exercises and shared the company’s unique process of making original dance-theater performances.


The Big Show Co. in Residence

The Big Show Co. also performed a lunchtime showing of their current work, The Collective Memory Project—with dance-theater inspired by memories of U.S. military veterans, the performers, and the audience members themselves. Students and faculty stopped by the dance studio to watch and contribute a memory for the performance.

The residency was an extension of the ongoing service learning project involving Oakwood students, The Big Show Co.’s Collective Memory Project, and the non-profit organization Veterans in Film and Television.  As part of this project, Oakwood students created a Directory of Volunteers to mentor veterans in the film and entertainment business.

Photo credit for all Big Show Co. photos: Dyanne Cano

As a way to culminate the school year, to remember and acknowledge each other’s experiences, and to reflect on what we had “survived,” The Big Show Co. residency explored the creative act of memory through dance and theater.

Only a few days later, it was announced that Arianne and The Big Show Co. were awarded two prestigious and generous grants from the California Arts Council and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs to further develop The Collective Memory Project. It is an honor to have the backing of these institutions, and The Big Show Co. promises to stay connected to Oakwood as the project develops. You can check out The Collective Memory Project at El Camino College on Saturday, October 22 at 8 PM and click here to view a short video!

Ideas Are Everywhere

by Modern 2: Olivia, Paige, Emma, Audrey, and Annabel

Ideas are everywhere.

This was theme of Modern 2 during trimester 3. We were able to explore this theme by getting inspiration from everyday life, emotions, and artwork.

We used pedestrian movement in our choreography and chose music that we listen to in our life outside the dance studio. We contemplated the sculpture and painting of Edgar Degas and how he found inspiration in the mundane and behind-the-scenes life of artists and regular people. We were able to express emotions in our dances that we had experienced personally.

Through utilizing these themes, we were able to portray meaningful motifs in our dances that were personal to us. Working on pieces whose themes were close to our hearts gave the dances great impact on both the audience and ourselves.

Modern 2, photo credit: Angelina Attwell