Ready, Set, Game On (performed by students 9 – 12 grades from Educational Center for the Arts, ECA) is a 15-minute study using the rules and props of children’s games such as Red Light Green Light, soccer, dodge ball, relay races, tag and Frogger.
Choreography by Tara Lee Burns in collaboration with the dancers; Costumes by Heidi Henderson
The work begins by introducing the objects, repetition, and variation in speed that are associated with various games such as Frogger and soccer. As the piece progresses, the objects introduced are used in unconventional ways and various themes of acceptance, camaraderie and team work are unveiled amongst the chaos.
The students and I developed improvisational scores/rules that played with spontaneity and ego. Thinking in the moment (a key element when playing games) was a key element in this study and challenged students (grades 9 – 12) to make choices and decisions in while performing the work. A different trajectory than what they were accustomed to at ECA, watching the students think on their feet and make decisions while being watched was very exciting to see develop. An example of this is the final improvisation in the work (beginning around 10:45) where the phrase and rules (incorporating freezing, accumulation, and whoever was the last to join the group) were the same, but who left the stage when and what groups danced together were always different. This resulted in a different person with a final solo at the end of the work for each performance.
When making work, I’m excited when I find something that resonates with the students and myself. When they feel connected and can relate to the topic or theme, they feel the project is important to them and have agency in the work. This builds confidence, ownership, and pride that fosters a greater community and also importance around what is being created. That they are a part of making something. I am interested in seeing their strengths and allowing them to grow into roles that build their tool set instead of waiting for them to be “ready.”