I was privileged to attend a DEL Workshop with Doug Varone and Randi Sloan this past December. The experience was invaluable as we learned so many choreographic tools that double as fun dance education games you can play with your students.
The first game we played was an obstacle course, with a variety objects placed around the room. Doug numbered the items and demonstrated a pathway to follow. First we took time going around the room to examine each object – I remember observing the smoothness of the ballet bar, finding the instability of a chair or bottle of water, and the malleablility of a top hat. Once we all had ample time to investigate, all the students lined up and one by one interacted with each object in succession. The first dancer entered and interacted with a chair. Then the second dancer entered and approached the chair, while the first dancer had to move underneath or around a ballet barre. Next, the third dancer entered and interacted with the chair, the second dancer moved underneath or around the ballet barre, and the first dancer reacted with movement to the fire alarm, and so on and so forth. We started over every 3-5 movements so no one forgot their movements, but eventually we got through everyone in the line and were able to keep the line continuously moving. After we had our movements and patterns memorized, we removed the objects and all had beautiful traveling pathway sequences that were uniquely our own, but looked marvelous together as they had similar structure and inspiration.
This was just one of many games that we played over the course of the weekend workshop and the other exercises were just as fun and fulfilling. Master dance educator, Randi Sloan, was a guiding light throughout the workshop providing us with helpful ways to apply Doug’s fun dance games to their classroom settings, as well as ways his work links to the NYCDOE Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Dance. Another highlight from the weekend was getting to dance alongside his company members and watch them dance in such an intimate setting. All of his dancers are beautiful and fluid movers, each having a certain je ne sais quoi about them that draws you in and makes you watch them until another company member darts into your line of sight and steals your attention. I hope that Doug Varone and his company return to DEL for more workshops of this nature. It is an extraordinary experience to learn from Doug and be able to pass this on to your own students.
Watch a highlights video from the workshop below.