Monday, August 13, 2012

Book #226: Dance by Bill T. Jones & Susan Kuklin, Photographed by Susan Kuklin

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This elegant and graceful book presents basic concepts of dance illustrated and complimented by photographs of the celebrated dancer and choreographer, Bill T. Jones. Kuklin’s photographs capture the many facets of dance that Jones so aptly expresses through his movements.

The brief and simple text conveys the spectrum of emotions, shapes, and ideas that can be expressed through dance; from lines to curves, from thinking to feeling, from everywhere to hardly there. Many books on dance focus on ballet, but this book, like Jones, is firmly rooted in modern dance. Wearing a simple pair of belted slacks, Jones is thoughtful and playful by turns. The layout of the book is elegant in a minimalist manner. Each two page spread features several photographs of Jones, usually full-body shots, dancing against a crisp white background.

The easiest thing to do is to have the kids recreate the movements from the book. Jones has movements that convey thinking and feeling. Ask kids to create movements that depict a certain feeling, such as happy, sad, or angry. You can also have them create movements based on thinking about a particular idea, such as "What's for dinner?"

You could also use this book as part of a shape themed storytime.  Make lines and curves like Jones does in the book and then ask the kids to show you other ways to make lines and curves. Can you make circles, squares, triangles, etc.? 

Talk about how dance is built off of movements we all do, such as walking, jumping, squatting, running, etc. Watch the trailer for the classical music program which features two pieces choreographed by Jones. Can you see these movements in the dances? Both pieces are stunning, but I think kids will especially enjoy the playful nature of “D-Man in the Water” (skip to 1:35).

Watch this clip of Jones performing a phrase (0:36 to 1:04) from “The Breathing Show.” Notice how he is able to control each part of his body precisely to articulate each movement. Talk about how one movement instigates another movement. You might bring in a model of Newton’s Cradle (the 5 metal balls suspended from string that strike one another) to illustrate this idea. This could be tied in with a lesson about energy and momentum.

Check out Kuklin’s website for a brief description of her photo shoot with Jones. Read Jones official biography on the New York Live Artswebsite.


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