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Steps with their own pace

 Steps with their own pace

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts/ Illustratie Janneke Swinkels

Modern dance

UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: modern dance.

The beginner: We walk slowly around the room. Then we run. Suddenly someone stops. The group follows. Someone else slowly drops to the floor. The group follows. We stay lying on the floor. Seconds pass. Someone stands up. The group follows. To outsiders, this may seem like a strange warming-up, but during the modern dance lesson it has a reason. “In modern dance, you don't always follow the rhythm of the music, sometimes we work from the rhythm of the movement and from sensing the others,” says instructor Yvette van der Slik. That is why a group doesn't dance simultaneously in the beginning, these types of exercises help with that. “At a certain point, you just get the feel for it and harmony arises within the group.”

After the warming-up, the dancing starts. We practice the groundwork – movements that you make while you are lying on the floor and how you go down onto the floor and get back up again – which is important in modern dance. Van der Slik demonstrates how you can fall without hurting yourself, how to jump up without losing much power and the easiest way to roll over from a lying position and to roll your body into a ball.

Lastly, there is an exercise in trust. We stand in front of each other in pairs. We have to drop down onto our haunches and grab each other’s arms – sometimes left, sometimes right, sometimes both – so as not to fall over completely. Counting down or saying which arm you plan on grabbing is prohibited, it is all about sensing each other again. “And what is the worst thing that can happen to you?” says Van der Slik. “That you slip right down and end up sitting on the floor.” Indeed, it's not a disaster.

The expert: “I get a lot of inspiration from martial arts,” says instructor Yvette van der Slik. “It has power and it is aesthetically beautiful. There are many styles in modern dance, and every instructor has his or her own preference.” Modern dance is from the theatre and is characterised by the fact that those who practise it, are always looking for innovation and depth. During the lessons, the participants practise steps, but they will also improvise. “It is all about contact with others, the quality and freedom of movements. I am glad that there are no mirrors in the studio, because it is not about imitating what you see, it is about feeling what is inside you.”

Target group: There is a beginners course and an advanced course. “The transition is gradual, sometimes people do the beginners course a couple of times. It means that there is some repetition, but I change things around a lot. Most people find it difficult in the beginning to drop to the floor, but after a while they find that the best part.” Women generally form the majority, but we regularly have one or two guys. “That is really great, it does something with the energy.”

The facts: Modern dance, Monday at 19:15-20:45hrs (beginners) and 20:45-22:15hrs (advanced). A course lasts fourteen weeks; you can register for a new course in September

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