Interview with a Dance Teacher

I meet Martina Tavella, a dance teacher at the Bird College London, for asking her about dance and rhythm.

This is the transcription of the interview:

1. Introduce yourself.

My name is Martina Tavella. I am a contemporary dancer and a contemporary dance teacher based in London.

2. Tell me about your experience with dance

I started to dance when I was five-years-old. I studied at the National Academy of Dance in Rome, where I completed my BA in Contemporary Dance and my MA in Choreography.

3. Introduce your work with dance

I am a Contemporary Dance Cover Tutor at the Bird College performing Arts School Sidcup.

I am also a Street Dance teacher at Judith Kerr, a primary school.

4. How do you explain to a child what rhythm is?

Introducing and teaching rhythm can seem easy, but in reality, it can prove to be a complicated concept, especially for younger dancers. 

A great way to introduce the idea of rhythm to young children is by having them clap the syllables of their own name. For example, the name “Teresa” has three syllables. Clapped out, it would sound like Te-re-sa.

Another exercise could be that you set a pattern by snapping, stomping, tapping and/or slapping different body parts instead of clapping. As the children master the simple rhythms, you can increase the difficulty of the patterns.

5. At what age should children start to learn how to dance?

In my opinion, the right age is between four and five-years-old! How? Starting with a simple dance course that can help children to become familiar with music, rhythm and movement through a series of exercises. In this manner, the children will learn by playing.

6. How adults learn how to follow the rhythm?

Like everything, it takes practice. There are few better ways to find your rhythm than learning to dance. How? By listening to music, this involves them to recognise the rhythms. Another method can be to make them count the music. The next step will be to scan the beats with the simple dance movements.

7. Do you think that technology can helps people to improve dancing?

Well, I do not know if technology can help to dance but I know that Technological development and contemporary dance companies are increasingly performing works which incorporate sophisticated media/technology. I had many experiences with visual artists so I guess for a dancer can be an amazing experience transporting our body and our movements in another dimension.

8. How do you choreograph a dance?

When I start to think about my choreographies, there are different elements that can stimulate my creative process.

For example, it can be visual, emotional, abstract or it can simply start from music. 

9. Are there any dance notation systems that you use?

I am not using any notation systems at the moment. But in my carrier, I used to know different notation system that we can use to make choreography or simple movements. For example Life Forms System by Merce Cunningham.

10. Any suggestions for further researches?

For example, a dance teacher might create a multimedia website for their dance course. This website might include instructional material, blog posts and other resources.

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