Every serious dancer starts with a warming up. The warming up is intended to prepare you physically, mentally and emotionally for the dances that will follow.
The tune is called La Raspa and is a traditional dance from Mexico. It has been chosen for its catchy tune. I always start each session with this dance for the obvious reasons, but it also to act a ‘bookend’ for each session, a non-verbal cue that the session is starting.
The dance consists of exercises and a chorus. Each exercise mobilises a major joint in our bodies. The chorus is a clapping rhythm. Clapping is contagious and can help those reluctant to join in to surrender their resistance. Clapping gives non-verbal participants a voice, it makes them heard.
How Do You Dootee
This is an Australian action game and chant, which funnily enough I learned in Evanston near Chicago from the lovely folkdance tutor Sanna Longden. I adapted the original action game into a sitdance.
This chant reflects the contradiction that I often find in institutions where people live in communal settings but are seldom a real community. People may live in close proximity but are not necessarily close.
This chant makes light of the reluctance to engage and persist with a friendly ‘How do you dootee?’ The original action song is a great ‘ice breaker’, an activity that instantly breaks any ‘wait and see’ vibe among a group of people who do not know each other.
It is a simple traditional circle dance. Most of the movements with the arms and hands are original. The clapping has been slightly adapted for sitdance. The finger snapping movements are ‘off beat’ or syncopated, a characteristic feature of his dance. Folk dancing is still very much alive today in Israel today.
Jan is a Dutch first name for males (pronounced Yan). Pierewiet is a last or nickname. The tune also exists in South Afrika where it has lyrics. The music is a mazurka, which is a popular folk dance rhythm that originates in Poland, but became popular allover Europe. Jan Pierewiet is a traditional Dutch couple dance. The hand movements are an interpretation of the original steps the couples dance.
Many elderly will remember having a music box as a child. Many are interactive toy-instruments. They had to be wound up first before the melody would play. Some play automatically as soon as the box that contains it is opened. Some music boxes have dolls on them that move or dance as the melody plays.
This piece of music was especially arranged for sitdance to accommodate gentle and slow movements with the head and neck. The abilities to look left and right, and up and down, help with orientation in space and thus fall prevention. Obstructions can be identified and located, and movements can be adjusted to avoid a fall.
This lovely lullaby is sung in English and in Manx, or Gealg, the original celtic language spoken in the Isle of Man. The Ilse of Man is a small celtic island nation between The United Kingdom and Ireland.
In this dance the movements express the lyrics of the lullaby. The gealc phrase "Oh horo hi ri ri Cadul gu lo" translates as "Oh horo hi riri (no meaning, a bit like 'la la la'), sleep until day". The music is by Slainte, an Irish band from the USA. The dance has been especially created for sitdance.
Le Bal de Jugon
The dance is a traditional couple dance from Brittany, a celtic region on the west coast of France. It is 'heel-toe' polka a type of polka that can be found in other European countries too. The movements very much mimic the movements of the traditional dance. To see the dance performed in traditional Breton costumes on YouTube click here.
I travelled all over Central Australia to film the sitdance downunder DVD. I was very much an itinerant person just like the swagman in this song. A mini van was my swag. Although the words ‘waltzing Matilda’ have nothing to do with dancing, I took the creative liberty to make a choreography for his song. To view a 5-minute documentary on 'The Making of Waltzing Matilda', click here.