Photo Observation - Alex Hardy


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for Cultural Anthropology 102, Dr. Leanna Wolfe.

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Photo Observation - Alex Hardy

  1. 1. In step with the Grüvment Dance Company.<br />Alexander C. Hardy<br />Photo Observation<br />Cultural Anthropology 102<br />November 30, 2010<br />Dr. Leanna Wolfe<br />
  2. 2. The Grüvment Dance Company is a group of dancers, choreographers, and performances based in Burbank, CA, that competes and performs locally. There are eight dancers, led by choreographer Andre Williams. In this photo observation, they are in their final rehearsal for a recent regional dance competition, where they were asked to perform a special piece that won first place in at last years national finals in Daytona Beach. The following scenes are from the last few hours of preparation.<br />Stretching is essential to dancers. It prepares the body for movement and prevents injury. Here, Sade Hazard, one of the founding members is stretching before rehearsal. She has arrived early, as her hamstrings often require additional stretching before she dances. After dancers stretch individually, the choreographer or an assistant will lead a group warm-up, usually to an upbeat series of songs. Stretching usually begins neck and shoulder rolls, torso work, and progresses down to the floor, where poses such as the one above help open the thighs and hips, warm up the legs, and ease any tightness of the muscles. <br />
  3. 3. After a thorough warm-up and review of what will be covered today, Andre reviews choreography taught in the last rehearsal. With the performance taking place later that night, they’ve rehearsed daily for the entire week leading up to then. The piece they’re learning combines hip hop with jazz and is moderately difficult. Seen here in the picture, the three males (Andre, Cory and Brian), work hard to sync their moves. Assistant choreographer Sade on the right practices with the boys as well. Andre moves through all of the choreography very slowly to notice small details that could affect the look of the performance. If there are mistakes, Andre corrects them and starts from the top until everything is perfect.<br />
  4. 4. After polishing individual pieces of choreography, the group works through the entire routine. Here, Tonora(forward) practices one of the harder sections of choreography. Behind her, Jessica and Brian follow along. As shown here, they are out of sync with one another, which Andre noticed. He’ll typically stop and make corrections, or have dancers do a section with him or individually for clarity. In this instance Jessica on the right was a few beats off, which, on stage, would make the girls look unrehearsed, a big fear of Andre’s. <br />
  5. 5. After the group rehearses the number as a whole, Andre breaks them down into boy and girl groups to make sure each group is synced up, on the same beats, and complimenting one another. What may look good or decent to a bystander isn’t good enough here. He prefers that boys and girls dress in similar colors to ensure uniformity. Again, the girls are slightly off. here<br />
  6. 6. Andre practices here with the other male dancers. At various points in the dance, the boys are side by side, and any variation in movement will, again, make the boys look unrehearsed. Here, Andre is breaking down a section that seems to be troubling several of the dancers. At another point in the dance, he made a last-minute change to the choreography once noticing that it didn’t look good on stage. Though not common here, it is quite common in a professional dance setting, where choreographers, directors, or artists can alter choreography, staging, or wardrobe on a whim. Dancers would then be expected to internalize and execute with the change, sometimes with short notice.<br />
  7. 7. Although the pressure is on, the dancers make sure to have a good time. Goofing off, getting distracted, or bursting into fits of laughter is encouraged at the right moments. As long as the work is getting done, Andre is alright with it. Perhaps from nerves, the crew is more giggly than normal. As they are like a family, there are many inside jokes and running gags here.<br />
  8. 8. After some of the dancers change into more lightweight clothes, they run the routine from the top a handful of times. Last minute adjustments in staging are made to account for the dimensions of the performance space. Here, Cory and Sade share a quick laugh while waiting for the music to start. In the background, Geneva gives a direction to Brian, who is kneeling to the left. In the top left, sits Andre’s mother, who has attended every rehearsal and performance. She brings food and offers motivation and support to the crew wherever they go. She’s helped settle disputes and mediated conflict. She’s like a “team mom” on a little league baseball team.<br />
  9. 9. Here, Geneva preps for the intro of the piece. As the piece combines hip hop and jazz, she gets to put her years of training to use. In the back, one of the dancers, Alex, waits for his cue. He’s not in this section of the dance. Not pictured, Andre performs this choreography beside Geneva to ensure they’re in sync and she doesn’t forget any small details. She is the dancer with the strongest technical abilities, so she often performs or contributes choreography to sections that involve jazz or ballet.<br />
  10. 10. After a break, the crew arrives at the performance venue for a tech rehearsal. There is a soundcheckand they run through the routine a few times on the actual stage to get accustomed to the floor (which is a little slippery), size of the stage, entrances and exits, and to set up lighting cues. Because the shape of the stage varies from what was originally promised, Andre makes some last-minute adjustments to staging and positioning. He feels very confident in the performance after watching it on the playback monitor, and they run it twice more for good luck. <br />
  11. 11. After the performance, makeup is rinsed off and hair is unpinned. Costumes are folded and stored. The Gruvment Dance Company typically gathers outside of their rehearsal or performance space to debrief and unwind. Here, they share a big laugh about one of Jessica’s noticeable errors on stage. Notice she’s not laughing on the front left. Since they are like a big family, there are no hard feelings. After hanging out and working up an appetite, they went to their favorite pizza restaurant afterwards to eat and laugh some more. <br />As young adults, their time with Gruvment is preparing them for eventual careers in the professional dance world. While there may not be as much leisure, they are learning valuable skills that they all hope to translate into success. The long, daily rehearsals is a great preparation for professional work, as video shoots and tour rehearsals can last six to 10 hours at crunch time. Their next big performance was six days after this one, so they got a few days off and then it’s back to the grind.<br />