Artful LearningBlogBlog 13: "Something's Coming" Virtual Dance

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August 24, 2020

"Something's Coming" Virtual Dance

During our virtual Summer 2020 Training with Dwight Rich School of the Arts, we created “something good.” We had forty teachers spanning across the entire state of Michigan choreograph and perform their own portions to West Side Story’s “Something’s Coming.” After we recorded each group perform their dedicated section of the song, we combined them all together to create a fully choreographed dance. It certainly opens to the doors to what is possible in the arts when we all must social distance from one another.

It all started when our Artful Learning trainer, Shannon Hattyar, conducted an intensive yet fun presentation on movement and dance. She encouraged all of Dwight Rich’s educators to participate in her lesson on the Five Focal Movements strategy she uses with her students to engage with their motor skill and artistic expression—all while getting their wiggles out! Some of these meaningful movements include expanding, compressing, reaching, constraining, and repeating rhythmically. Not only are these moves beneficial for students, but they are extremely effective for the educator and their morning stretches.

Next, the teachers downloaded the printed lyrics of “Something’s Coming,” a master track of the entire song, and eight stanza segments from the song. In small groups, they virtually collaborated to create, practice, and perform a unique dance to one of the stanzas using Hattyar's Five Focal Movements strategy. After about thirty minutes to build and rehearse their choreography, they performed their individual parts—together—with their groups. Then we "virtually" floated between eight Zoom Breakout Rooms and recorded multiple takes of each stanza. Only after a couple of takes, did each group truly shine with their dancing.

We took the MP3 from the remastered film-version of West Side Story and spliced together eight, rehearsal segments in Apple’s GarageBand of a prep-stanza leading into the stanza the group would dance to. Then, we used the MP4 from the Zoom session, edited the segments down in iMovie, removed the 'scratch' audio track, and dropped in the 'clean' audio track to create an authentic group dance of Dwight Rich’s educators in their own respective locations. They were all so impressed at their collaborative effort when they saw the finished product. Thus, reinforcing the fact that they will be able to have similar results and impacts with their own students during remote learning.

This unique project was designed and built-in Michigan while being assembled in California. The final result is a remote, original dance which we think is pretty “Cool.”

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