May 28th 2016  

 News

A group of Fujian White Crane Kung Fu students perform with a troupe of senior dancers.

I’m sure that (like me) you were all thinking that Instructor Dave Courtney Jones could not handle any more fun in his life after the Gauntlet Games last week  – but no we were wrong! Dave has room for more joy than we have given him credit for. And here is his latest foray into the creative world, where dance and Kung Fu intersect. First we go back in time…

“Four years ago I was contacted out of the blue by the Creative Director of Claremont Project to see if the Club would take part in a Flash Mob being organised as part of the Big Dance (bigdance.org.uk). Claremont Project has its own over 55’s contemporary dance company and they wanted to perform a Flash Mob to Madonna’s “Jump” in Islington’s Angel Central.

The idea was to combine Kung Fu with dance choreography, and to team up with Counterpoint Dance (counterpointdance.co.uk). How much more out of my comfort zone can I get? Ok, let’s do it! You never know, it might even be fun!

Amongst a group of senior contemporary dancers, a kung fu student jumps in the air with his fist in the air like the dancers.

Jump!

I enlisted the help of Instructor Karim, and we met up with Simona Scotto, Counterpoint’s Artistic Director, and after a short conversation, Karim’s creative side came to the fore and in almost no time at all we had a short, choreographed Kung Fu sequence, and not long afterwards an intrepid group of students who wanted to take part.

Practice began, and a couple of days before the event we met up with Counterpoint, and put our Kung Fu together with their dance. And, with a few adjustments and some hastily learned extra moves, it came together beautifully, with martial artists and dancers contrasting and complementing each other brilliantly.

In fact it went so well that, following our successful Flash Mob performance(s) in the rain at the Angel Central, we then performed the same choreography at the IndigO2 on 27 April 2013. And it was also amazing fun!

A group of Fujian White Crane Kung Fu students perform with a troupe of senior dancers.

Keeping to the beat.

So, when I was contacted earlier this year to see if we would be happy to resurrect the old choreography and team up with Counterpoint again for this year’s Big Dance I agreed straight away.

With a few new faces in our group we started to practise again in preparation for our performance on Friday 20th May 2016, this time at the Claremont in Angel.

As we stepped out of our comfort zones again, I was struck by how well the students were able to cope with the situation. It was new for some, and they didn’t know what to expect, but they took a step into the unknown and coped.

We had to make some changes to choreography, timings, positioning, and other bits and pieces when we met up with the dancers to practise the day before the performance and they coped.

They coped very well, and the performance was a success.

And how does coping under this kind of pressure marry so well with Kung Fu training? Want to see if learning to block punches or kicks aimed at you by an enthusiastic classmate has changed you in any way? Put yourself in a stressful situation, where the unexpected is coming at you fast, and see if you respond better than you used to.

And, with a possible repeat performance looming in July, this time at the Lillian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells, those intrepid students’ coping skills may be put to the test again soon. Watch this space…”