Changing Front and Sharing Weight
by Patrick Corbin
Staying at the front of the studio during class can limit you as an instructor. Changing your vantage point is a good way to catch issues that otherwise might escape your attention.
There are a couple of ways to accomplish this. You can walk around the room during exercises. This gives you a constantly changing point of view. Walking among your students, you’ll become an active presence in the space you all occupy.
You can also design exercises that change where the front is. This benefits your students too—their concept of front will no longer be limited to the conventional front of the studio. Establishing new focal points in the room will enhance both your teaching and your students’ experience in class.
The ease and fluidity associated with contemporary duet work can begin with a simple weight-sharing exercise.
Pairs of students stand face to face, about two feet apart, not touching, weight centered. All of the dancers raise their right hands; slowly and deliberately, partners grasp each other’s wrists, maintaining eye contact throughout. They soften the knees and ease the weight backward as they straighten their right elbows and increase the pressure of their grip, until both dancers are in a deep, soft contraction with the knees deeply bent. The tension between their gripping arms should be so great that they would fall backward if they let go. Maintaining equal pressure, the pairs then return to standing.
The challenge is for partners to move at the same rate and maintain their shared equilibrium, so that one dancer does not pull the other off balance. This weight-sharing exercise can be done in almost any position, on one or two legs, and at varying speeds.
Patrick Corbin, an assistant professor at USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, has an MFA in dance, performance, and choreography from NYU. He danced with The Joffrey Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, and his own troupe, CorbinDances.