Dalcroze Eurhythmics for Dance Workshop

Monica Dale teaches a Dalcroze Eurhythmics for Dance Workshop this Saturday, May 18, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Joy of Motion Dance Center Friendship Heights. Learn more about Dalcroze, discover what happens during the workshop and find out what’s in it for you! Sign up by Friday, May 17 and save $5.

What you’ll get:

  • Tips and ideas for teaching
  • New ways to think about movement
  • Inspiration for choreography
  • Clarity about beat, rhythm, and meter
  • Exercises you can practice
  • Introduction to pieces of music to use
  • Handout including music, resources, and more

What it is:

As a young professor at the Geneva Conservatory of Music in Switzerland, Emile Jaques-Dalcroze shocked music academia by having his students perform exercises in movement — without shoes or corsets! — to develop musicianship. His method soon attracted actors, playwrights, conductors, designers, and of course, dancers.

Jaques-Dalcroze’s work was at the very root of modern dance. Mary Wigman, Hanya Holm and Doris Humphrey were credentialed in the method, impacting modern dance’s development in Germany and America. Denishawn included Eurhythmics in their schools; Kurt Jooss, Rudolph von Laban, Marie Rambert, Eleanor King and many other dancers studied Eurhythmics.

Although they used their experience in their craft, these dancers weren’t able to train others as Eurhythmics teachers. So while their work carried various ideas and principles to future generations (Graham, Limon, etc.), the method itself faded from dance education.

Today, teachers of the Dalcroze approach are scarce. There are only a few training centers in America, and the music skills required for Dalcroze credentials are difficult to master. Very few who earn the credentials are also dancers. (In fact, the Dalcroze method itself needs musical movement teachers who’ve studied Eurhythmics – but that’s another story!)

The biggest challenge: it can only be understood by experiencing it. Venerable dance musician and Eurhythmician John Colman once said, “Describing Eurhythmics to dancers is like trying to describe the color blue to someone who’s never seen it.”

What happens in the workshop:

  • Individual, partner, and group exercises
  • “Games” in movement and improvisation
  • Listening, and moving according to what you hear
  • Exercises in quick reactions
  • Coordination exercises
  • Music such as Bach, Mompou, Copland, Beethoven, Bartok, and world music
  • Applications for teaching all ages, if participants would like; Q/A

What music/movement concepts we’ll explore:

  1. Beat: simple exercises in internalizing a steady beat are harder than they seem.
  2. Division and multiple: dividing the beat (twice as fast) and multiplying it (twice as slow) can affect movement’s speed OR space.
  3. Polyrhythm: dissociation exercises coordinate beat, division and multiple simultaneously (helping to combine slow ports-de-bras with quick leg movements, for example).
  4. Duration and Phrase: Sustained durations combine multiple skills, helping dancers perceive and remember lengthy phrases.
  5. Meter: Dalcroze’s arm exercises bring clarity to “counting.” We’ll discover the energy of lifting the “downbeat” and how it affects dance vocabulary, and explore changing meter as an element of composition.
  6. Rhythmic Patterns: We’ll identify two Greek rhythmic modes, combine them into rhythmic phrases, notate them spatially, and discover their occurrence in basic dance steps.
  7. Form and Choreography: A piece of music incorporating these concepts forms the basis for the group to create simple choreography.
  8. More examples: Going beyond the specific concepts in the workshop, you’ll hear a few pieces that may call to mind images, characters, or even narrative “stories” you can use in teaching or choreography.

What’s in it for you:

  • Dancers, from beginners through professionals, will find a new perspective on the music in movement.
  • Musicians, amateur and professional, will discover the embodiment of musical principles in movement.
  • Teachers of music and dance will be inspired with new ideas they can implement right away.
  • Anyone interested in the method of Jaques-Dalcroze will get a comprehensive introduction.
  • Everyone will enjoy it!