Last Thursday, we began learning the tap phrase of the Torelli. This sequence was definitely more movement-based rather than poses but still different than the type of choreography I am used to learning. Our instructor, Shawn Stevens, made sure that all of us at least understood the choreography enough to do it on our own without her help, as she wanted to give us a chance to really figure it out for ourselves. This already was a little challenging in my head because the pattern did not come easily to me; the next challenge was to retrograde it on our own!
Retrograding can be difficult for me initially. I know I have to start from the end, but I have to move forwards to end and then backwards to end. Things are a little easier once I get started, but this movement is difficult because it is not always clear when a move ends and begins. As I practice, I consider that there may be more accent shifts I am leaving out. It’s a challenge to think of all the ways that my body does things and then rewind those!
After retrograding, we executed the poses on the left side and did the tap phrase on the right. Wow! At first, I wasn’t sure what matched with what! I
decided that every step would match with a pose, so I would end up repeating poses since there are only eight of them. I discovered that talking through them with Shawn and my classmates really helped. When I work on the phrases at home, it goes okay, but I find that I appreciate having my classmates to talk things out. I found it hard to decide which side my back, hips, and head will go with—right or left? We got maybe five counts in when the time was up. Every day we write down the steps we learned in our journals, and for this particular day, I found that I could match up with what my body will be doing by that writing each step down and each pose in two columns side by side. This organization really helped me to avoid keeping track of things in my head.
It is an exciting challenge to accept that there are no wrong answers when it comes to interpreting the phrases. I really want to be correct, but I
realize that there is not one correct way. I also realized when working with some of my classmates that there were times when we disagreed or saw it in two different ways, which was hard to explain to each other why we thought we were right. I’m surprised by how much this class has helped me with collaboration skills by working with my peers to figure out the more challenging phrases. Manipulating the choreography is still a difficult challenge for me, and I am anticipating for when I become more fluent in the movement!