Alexander Whitley worked with the concept of magnetism when making the piece 8 Minutes. Magnetism plays an important role in determining the sun's cycles of activity with its north and south poles switching over every 11 years. Taking the basic principles of positive and negative magnetic charges and how they interact, Alexander created complex organisational structures of movement.
Recap what you have learnt about magnetism. On a bar magnet what happens if two north poles come together? And if two souths come together? What do you need for two magnets to attract?
In a circle ask your class to imagine that each hand is a north pole. Ask the children to try and press their hands together…..what would happen? Would they be able to bring their hands together?
Now imagine your hands are opposite poles. What happens? Smack your hands together in a tight clasp.
Ask the children to get into pairs and find a space in the room ready to play a ‘magnet movement’ game.
• Ask them to decide if they are Person A or Person B. Person A is always North Pole. (Might it be better to use positive and negative instead?)
• Ask them to start to move around each other in a slow ‘dance’.
• Now call out “Person A” and a part of the body. This is the part of the body that will either attract or repel the other person.
• Now call out “Person B”, a part of the body and a pole. If this is a North pole the two people will need to move together showing that these two parts of the body are repelling.
• If you call out a part of the body which attracts, the two dancers will need to move together with the two parts of the body connected.
• Try this for a few minutes. Follow it with a short discussion – which kinds of movement were easy to do and which were difficult? Which were interesting to watch? Which were impossible to dance (if any?)
Creative task continued
Ask each pair to decide which parts of their body attract and which repel. Ask the pairs to work together to make a small phrase of movement bearing in mind these attractions and repulsions. Rehearse your phrase of movement – no more than 8 movements in total – and amend any bits which are tricky to do until it is flowing well.
Spell out the procedure. Each person choose body part, choose whether it’s positive or negative then work out what happens. Alternate between who chooses first.
Bring the group back together and invite each pair to demonstrate their phrase. Can the observers guess which parts of the body are attracting each other and which are repelling?
Create a class choreography bringing together all of the phrases and setting them to music. Learn it as a routine at first - with everyone learning every move - before breaking it up into a more complex dance with duets, solos and ensemble.