While choreographing the class combination “Waiting Game” for her intermediate and advanced contemporary students at the Tennessee Arts Conservatory in Spring Hill, TN, Story wanted to give dancers a chance to let their hair down (literally). Many of her students are serious ballet dancers who are used to slicked-back buns and leotards. She chose movement that would push them outside their comfort zones, using contractions and fluctuating between fluid and sharp motion.
In the video, the dancers excel technically, but Story also worked with them to dig into the more expressive side of their art. In the middle of the combination, dancers perform a section of improvisation, something they practice in every class. In this case, she encouraged dancers to move freely in whatever way felt good. Other times, though, she guides them through improvisation, instructing them to initiate movement from certain body parts or at different levels to help them discover new movement possibilities. “I use improv as a learning tool,” she says. “I don’t want them to feel like they have to be someone else; I want them to explore their own movement and express who they are.”
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