NACHMO: High School Edition

This year, intermediate and advanced dance students at Grace Church School in NYC will participate in NACHMO as fledgling dancemakers! High School Dance Director, Jennifer Pommiss has designed a semester-long curriculum, which incorporates lessons in the building blocks of composition along with NACHMO daily tasks and inspirations. Students will not only begin to use Dance as a powerful and viable means of expression and communication, they will also come to understand the importance of cultivating a regular creative practice. High school choreographers will hope to interact with and learn from the NACHMO community, as well as share their explorations, discoveries and final dances. 

Assignment for the week of 11/2

What if you had to introduce yourself to someone in movement with no (or minimal) dialogue? Well, guess what? You do!

You can approach this in many different ways, but here are some possibilities:

You could use your chronology as a starting point, going from birth to your current age while highlighting different events. Make sure you do not act things out or mime them

You could also think about it a bit more abstractly from the get go....what makes you YOU? Make a list of qualities. How would you  express those qualities in movement. 

These are just a couple of suggestions. You may come up with other strategies. You can use as many different tracks of music as you want in your choreographic process; however, you should plan to perform your piece for the class in silence.


Tara E., Grade 12: I approached this assignment by starting out with how I developed as a dancer, beginning from the first time I walked into the studio. I started with basic Dance 1 class exercises , when I was just learning technique, and then moved on to extensions, and so forth. This assignment was challenging because I didn't want it to seem like I was just stealing all of Ms.Pommiss's exercises. It was easy to have her exercises as a starting point and have the opportunity to introduce myself without limits. I don't really like performing without music, mainly because you have to make up your own rhythm instead of basing it off of the music. It's pretty challenging.

Millie N., Grade 10:Introducing myself with movement was much harder than I anticipated. I assumed that it would come naturally to me because I am constantly expressing myself through movement every time I dance. I didn't realize how difficult it would be to essentially choreograph a dance that represented what I represent as a person. When I took into consideration what the assignment actually was, I realized that this went beyond expressing myself, and I had to take that concept literally. I approached this assignment in different ways, in that through my choreography, I go back and forth between describing my traits and characteristics with dance, and describing different important moments in my life through dance. I felt as though this would keep the dance more interesting and give it more depth. I choreographed the dance in silence so that the movements were a reflection on my life, rather than a reflection of the music.

Gemma G., Grade 11: I approached the dance by thinking of prime qualities that I have as well as aspects of my life that make me the person that I am. For example, I am very energetic, talkative, and moody which were things I wanted to express through movement. Aspects of my life, such as: I live in NYC, I practice Gymnastics, I go to high school, and I have divorced parents are all things that I would tell someone if I were introducing myself to them. I then decided that the most effective and clear way to portray this would be with not only dance, but also words. I cut out ten pieces of paper and wrote the attribute, or quality that I identify with on each one. I incorporated each piece of paper by moving with it. I then proceeded to the next piece of paper.

Clare T., Grade 11: Without music, certain movements look awkward, but some movements are more powerful and mean more when there is quiet. Trying to make the rhythm fit the silence is hard because you have to create your own beat, but it makes the dance more interesting to the viewers.

Oneysha B., Grade 12: When I heard about this assignment, I knew it would be challenging. Not because it would be hard for me to introduce myself through dance, but because it would be hard for me to dance without music. In much of the dance I do, music plays a large and crucial role. Introducing myself through dance would be difficult enough, and doing so without music would be nearly impossible. That being said, I got started. I turned on a song I’d always wanted to choreograph to, and I began moving. I tried to think about the pinnacle moments in my life. The moments that define me as a person, and the moments that, if left out, would leave me incomplete.