The Dance Technique of Lester Horton: An Advanced Beginners Class
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DANCE TECHNIQUE OF LESTER HORTON
The Guide for Teaching an Advanced Beginners Class
The first video class that teaches the legendary Lester Horton technique. This Advanced Beginners class was created to show how the Horton studies can be incorporated and taught within a class. The class is based on the book "The Dance Technique of Lester Horton" by Marjorie Perces, Ana Marie Forsythe and Cheryl Bell. The class contains: THE WARM UP with Ana Marie Forsythe, Round Over and Round Up, Flat Back Series, Primitive Squat Descent and Ascent, Lateral Stretches, Release Swing Series, Fortification #1, Prelude #1, Twists with Open Egyptian Arms, Leg Swings, Leg Swings with Stag Position Balance, Preparation for Deep Forward Lunges, Coccyx Balance, IMPROVISATION with Marjorie Perces, CENTER FLOOR work with Ana Marie Forsythe, Lateral T Study, PROGRESSIONS: Side Hip Pull, Side Hip Pull with Figure 4 Turn, Side Hip Pull with Figure 4 Turn and Lateral T Balance, Single Foot Arch Springs, Single Foot Arch Springs with Stag Jump, Fortification #14. All of the dancers in the DVD are graduates or former students in the Ailey School/Fordham University BFA program.
Running time: 90 minutes.
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On a great side note the warm ups are already helping with my lower back pain - in short I like this one a lot!
Setting: Dance studio with linoleum floors, wall mirror, ballet barres. As is the case with most dance studios in New York, the room looks like it has seen a lot of dance classes (translation, the walls and door could use a coat of paint)
Production: There is a sound echo. This dvd does not use any dvd features. No menu, you'll have to use the fast forward button like a vhs tape.
Class: 8 dancers (and I mean REAL dancers) Young energetic and quite flexible. This is an advanced beginner modern dance class. I never quite understood what advanced beginner meant, but I guess if you have never danced then this class is not for you. Inflexible, 2 left feet...skip it.
Choreography: There is an extensive warm-up that get progressively harder, but you can get it with determination. There is little instruction from the teacher. She assumes that you already have a grasp of the Horton technique. I suggest that you be mindful of your knees. The only on the floor work is the coccyx balance which is quite hard, but something to work up to. Luckily she does the ab work in 2 groups so you can rest while the other group works.
There is no choreography to learn, but instead a 20 minute or so improvisation session in which you are asked to roll like a baby, crawl like a toddler, walk, skip, gallop and slide; then dance to different emotions. Then the students one at a time give one word for everyone to dance to, ie wind or mouse. Then you are instructed on walking in different directions. It is described as a directional exercise.
Next section is the hardest in my opinion. It is going across the floor incorporating what you learned in the center floor work. Hops, hop jumps, side pulls, side pulls with lateral T, Jumps. Turns. Hard stuff!! And confusing. Even some of dancers kept turning in the wrong direction. I remember when I used to take dance classes that I dreaded going across the floor in twos. My current living room isn't large enough for the across the floor work. It goes pretty fast and I wish I had a step button on my dvd so that I could slow down the movement.
Teachers: One teacher instructs the warmup and center work; another teacher leads the improvisation. Both are very nice and knowledgeable.
Space: You will need LOTS space going across the floor.YOU CAN NOT DO THIS CLASS IN A SMALL ROOM!!! And oh by the way don't do this on carpet. Hard wood floor is best.
The class ends with a final center floor standing exercise and that's it. No stretching. No cool down. No choreography
Overall: This is a dance class from beginning to end. I don't think it was made as a workout but you can modify it to a workout. Going across the floor will tire you out, if you can get the steps. It probably would have worked better if the dancers faced away from you, like you were in the back of class. That way you could follow the dancers in front of you. As such, they do not do mirror image to you. The camera is in front of the dancers. The only time you get to see them from behind is when they face away from the camera. This causes a problem. Do you do mirror image to them or use the same foot they use? When they go across the floor, you can only really see what's going on when they go from left to right, or down stage to up stage. You will need to add a cool down on your own. I just ordered the intermediate dvd hoping that there is more floor work that I can add onto this class.
I could see that over time, I could work up to this especially across the floor. However, I think this dvd is best for people to use to supplement their horton modern dance classes and not as a stand alone. You need a teacher to correct your form if you are interested in that sort of thing.
As a current non-dancer, who hasn't been in a modern dance class in years, this dvd will be a challenge for me, but I will definitely add it to my weekly rotation and since I live in a city that doesn not have modern dance classes (no longer in SF)I'll have to wait until I visit NY and take an advanced beginner horton dance class. At least I'll know what to expect!