This semester, we’re studying and performing Twyla Tharp’s The One Hundreds, which begins with two dancers performing one hundred 11-count phrases in unison. Then five dancers simultaneously perform their own twenty 11-count phrases of the previously performed one hundred. And finally, one hundred dancers each perform one of the 11-count phrases at the same time.
But that is just the performance of The One Hundreds. The piece really begins with the process of teaching others from the community to perform with us.
With this in mind, our class visited one of the busiest places on campus—the Starbucks at the Indiana Memorial Union—to practice teaching other students some of these phrases. At first, some students were shy to get involved. Lots of people thought they couldn’t do the moves since they weren’t dancers or athletic, and learning the steps for the first time can be tricky. But the One Hundreds is unique in that you can learn a phrase that is accessible to your body and your ability—you don’t have to be a dancer to perform them!
Once the students embraced this, we were able to have fun with it. Even some who kept an eye from a distance seemed to get enjoyment out of witnessing the process.
I met one student from the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering who was looking for survey participants. Both in need of a volunteer, we exchanged participation in one another’s projects. We were two very different students collaborating to advance each other’s studies. And I think that’s exemplary of the kind of community building this piece is about.
The process of preparing the One Hundreds lends itself to communication and cooperation with others who we may not come in contact with otherwise. And that is what brings a unique significance to this piece for anyone involved.