The Arts Curriculum for Ontario has provided educators with two models of thinking that are very helpful for teachers and students. If we use these models as a foundation on which we build our understanding of course concepts, our learning can be both personal and structured.
All of my classes are becoming more familiar with the Critical Analysis process, because the format helps to guide our thinking while we approach new artworks and art forms. Yesterday, each of my classes viewed Sergei Polunin’s performance of “Take Me To Church”. Unlike most art forms that we would analyze in class, this was a ballet piece. It was interesting to see how helpful the Critical Analysis process could be while approaching a new and unfamiliar form of art.
Sergei Polunin, “Take Me to Church” by Hozier, Directed by David LaChapelle from David LaChapelle Studio on Vimeo.
We are just finishing the second week of this semester, so I didn’t want to overload my students with too many concepts all at once. Instead, we focused on our Initial Reactions to the video.
Here are some of my students initial reactions:
“Is he naked??”
“What does it mean, and why that song?”
“What was the story?”
“This is interpretive dance as, a guess, which has emotional meaning to it. The movement suggests deeper pain behind the dance”
“My questions is ‘why would he be wearing a nude colour, does it have deeper meaning?'”
“When he danced it seemed kind of emotional for him, the way his facial expressions were (grabbing his head)”
“The setting, lighting, and music felt like they formed together.”
“This dance evokes the really sad emotional side of me. I also feel that the white made it a lot more dramatized.”
“The movement suggests that he is emotional and puts a lot of emotion and feelings into his dance.”
“This work brought something to mind. Mainly an idea for a drawing… I guess a connection I made with him is the liking of movement, him in actual life, me in drawing.”
“Why is it ballet dancing and not some other form of dancing?”
“Guys can rock ballet.”
“What exactly is it supposed to represent?”
“It was very well done, but it didn’t interest me.”
“How long did the dance take to make and learn? …and what’s the story behind the dance?”
“I realized that you can tell that the song/dance means something to him.”
“The story being told seems very heartbreaking and sad. I wonder what the actual story is.”
“This work reminds me of someone struggling.”
“The guy seemed so strong, brave and classy.”
“My first impression of this work is that it shows an inner fight and is exhibited through dance. This work evokes empathy for the struggle, beauty for the dance, and loneliness for the context.”
“It puzzles me not knowing why he is showing such pain and why he seems so emotional.”
“[The dance] suggests to me that he is alone and there is no one to help him and his troubles.”
“This work evokes emotions and made me feel weird and uncomfortable, but it is still pretty amazing, the way he was dancing.”
“Why did the man not have a shirt on?”
“Watching this, I realized that the man dancing is obviously very passionate about dancing, like a painter when they paint or a singer when they sing.”
“What was the message he was trying to send?”
“What is going through his mind during this time?”
“The dancer is trying to prove a point with his moves.”
“It’s very dramatic. It’s dramatic because of the music and how he is dancing. He’s expressing himself and his emotions throughout his dancing.”
“It was like Footloose in the woods.”
“Why are so many artists doing music videos with one ballet dancer in one empty, white room?”
“This work brings the movie ‘Footloose’ to mind because he is dancing in a warehouse place by himself.”
Today, my students will read through all of our initial reactions. I hope they begin to see how other students think, and that there are many ways to observe and appreciate art. I also hope that they feel confident that their thoughts are very valid.