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Saqra Raybuck

When you are working with beginning students it is easy for them to become discouraged because they have no idea how to start putting together movements into actual coherent dance.

If you are an instructor that dearly wants to teach others TO dance instead of A dance (in the form of a choreography) you can find yourself at a loss at directing them into creating dance.

One of the time-proven methods I use is very early introduction of a continuity concept that allows them to easily organize movement and feel accomplished: “The Glowing Green Goo.”

If you happen to have had a workshop with me in the past this may be very familiar…. It actually is essential in many parts of creating dance and I refer to it often, and the odd name makes it memorable… but if not, well, here goes….

Put your hands above your head and wiggle your fingers. 

Imagine that your hands are covered with glowing green goo and that is what makes you move. If you are a "magical energy" kind of person then imagine that this green goo is your magical dance energy and that is what makes your hands move. ----- Now IF YOU ARE NOT a "magical energy" kind of person, get this: you are controlling the audience’s attention by deliberately moving one part: your fingers. If you were in the grocers and just stood there and stuck out your hand and wiggled your fingers where would people look? At your fingers, right? So your imaginary goo is "moving something deliberately to control audience attention."

Magic or no magic, your hands are over your head and your fingers are still wiggling.... and anyone looking at you is looking at your fingers (where your imaginary goo is).

Let's pretend the goo is a real physical substance.

Now move your hands around in the air dramatically..... the eyes will continue to watch your green goo glowing away on your hands.... even if you separate them or put all your goo on one hand and hold the other hand still.

Any time you feel like it you can put the goo on your body and the eyes will follow it to its new location. 

Let's put your goo on your chest and move your chest. Note: you don't have to literally wipe it on... just get close so the eyes follow to your chest, which takes over making movements. 

Your goo is now on your chest.

From there the goo can ooze to any part it can ooze to through your body from your chest..... up to your shoulders.... or from your chest, down through your torso and maybe into your hips.....

What your goo CAN'T do is, say,  jump from your hips to your head.

If you want your goo to go from your hips to your head it is going to either 1) travel up through your body to your head or 2) you have to pick it up with your hand and move it there manually.

Now that we have the concept, try this:  Reach up one hand.... ripple it down to your shoulder... roll that shoulder... slide it into a chest circle... let it slide out to both shoulders in a light shoulder shimmy....send it out your arms in a ripple to your hands.... finger tip circles coming down to your hips.... horizontal forward hip 8.... reach one hand to your hip and sweep your arm up dramatically... ripple your hand down to in front of your face.... drop your hand down and do a head slide.

Feel how the audience's eyes would easily follow that?

Contrast that with a beginner holding one hand up and out, spinning the hand at the wrist as she does a basic four count type of hip step. "Hey! Look up here at my hand! No! look down here at this step! No...."

Hey, when I learned originally I learned a bunch of steps. You went here and did snake arms.... there and did a step hip.... there and did a torso undulation... here and did a hip M. It was a disjointed step recital. Take the same steps:  snake arms, torso undulation, hip M, step hip and do them in THAT order and it isn't disjointed. Look for the continuity! Look for the goo!

"Glowing green goo" is a rule made to be broken....there are times you may want to surprise an audience by moving something they aren't expecting out of the continuity area.... and there are other ways to direct attention to the area desired: looking at what is moving or going to move is a classic.... or you may want to circle a hand high overhead synchronized as you circle your hips... but as a general principle and rule of thumb this keeps you with excellent movement flow and the ability to chain accents without losing or confusing your audience. It is essential for your core movement organization skills.

Why "glowing green goo"? The image actually evolved from my watching the opening of the Simpsons cartoon. A bright green uranium rod bounces into Homer's suit.... he picks it up and throws it out the window... and the travel of the rod continues to be the narrative organizing principle (for a short time). We are just ooozier in my imagination than a hard rod of uranium.

And if you don't like glowing green goo then go for imagining purple light or golden sparkles or whatever you can use as an imaginary substance to direct your attention.

This technique assists your students in organizing all the steps and isolations they have been taught into logical sequences until they actually begin to feel what the music itself is calling for.

This has made dancing more approachable for my own students, but of course your mileage may vary.

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