After weeks of discussions with the group I feel I am beginning to really understand what the group are interested in, how to challenge them and what might be quite a new concept to them. I love the idea of offering workshops that will both access memories and act as something they are comfortable with as well as offering something new or challenging. Today I decided to bring some fans in. Over the weeks we have looked at a range of musicals and last week one of my participants mentioned they loved the musical ‘Moulin rouge’. I decided that we could start off with this familiar aspect of the fan dance (Moulin rouge)and did a warm up to ‘Because we can’ From the Moulin Rouge. For this we played some relaxed piano music to create a movement each using the same fan. We then experimented with putting these movements together each with our own fan before playing the song from Moulin Rouge- If you are familiar with this song its fast, way too fast! This was a laugh and the participants enjoyed trying to move the fans in different ways.
After warming up decided to introduce a new concept which was Japanese fan dance. We spoke about Japanese arts including Japanese writing, comic books, paintings and dance. We continued the session by firstly looking at the art of Japanese writing, Holding out fans like a pen I asked the participants to write their name as they wished quite small. I then began to play some Japanese music which was calm and beautifully conducted so that it gradually built in rhythms and sound. The group were tasked to keep writing their names but each time making the letters slightly bigger until they were able to fill the space. We then continued to writing someone else’s name around that person, and then writing whatever they wanted in the whole space trying to merge the letters into the space. As the music began to calm down I felt it wasn’t the right time to stop- They were all so clearly still wanted to move in this way so we continued. I played another piece of Japanese music- this time a pop song! They’re asked to draw in the space using their fans in the pen-like manner. The space was instantly buzzing. Movement was bigger and faster and I could tell that they were completely focussed on their fans. Half way through I asked them to open their fans and with the opening we herd an instant reaction. The group were wowed with the shapes and patterns the fans could make when opened out. We continued and I slowly began to add an extra fan to each person. This again helped to double the movements in the space. As the music died down we came back to our chairs. One participant commented on how he had just noticed his arms were aching he said ‘what a great way to exercise without even knowing’!
The group continued with this focus throughout and went on to learn a few tradition Japanese fan dance steps. This was to help give the group some ideas which I feel none of them needed as when I asked them to create a few movements with a partner they were instantly being creative creating their own movements and patterns using the fans. As time was ticking on I asked each pair to come to an end and offered the opportunity to share their work which they all happily obliged to do so. Each pair had created something so unique in style and creativity we were in awe of each other’s work and what incredible movements and shapes we had created.
To finish off we again opened the space to creative movement, played yet another relaxed Japanese song. Participants were asked to use all 20 of my fans to create a piece of art on the floor in whatever way they wanted to. As played the music the group began moving and carefully selecting places for each fan. There was little talking but I could tell they were all well connected whilst working. They created a beautiful picture which was seen differently by each person. I was so happy to see how the group had responded to quite an abstract task and of course the hard work had to be well rewarded- meaning the Triple chocolate cookies and coffee was most definitely well received!