A fancy statement for a fancy movement. Like pirouettes in ballet , drops in aerial dance are an essential element which must be mastered in order to enhance the choreography. There are even classes which only teach this kind of trick.
But what is a drop? Who can perform it? When are we ready to execute it, and how is it done?
And more importantly, how does it make you feel?
I don’t remember the first time I did a drop. But I do remember the first time I did a big drop.
It was in a warehouse, in the middle of a real Madrid winter, un frío que pela: cold so bitter that it peels off your skin. I was taking class with Roberto Gasca and there were at least 10 more students.
Roberto called out, “OK, everybody up!”
Roberto loves difficult, complex drops. There’s always a moment in his class where he says stop everything, we’re going to go all the way up!
I felt more than a little fear, but also excited at the idea that once I was up there, I would just have to let go. My hands were grabbing the cloth at the back of my head. I was facing forward, concentrating on not letting go with my right hand, and strongly grasping the cloth in front of me. I felt like I would fall flat on my face from 10 meters up, with a great audience.
“I can’t hold it much longer!” I screeched.
“Graciela, just drop!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. JUST DROP.”
So I made sure that my first big drop was a memorable moment, with sound effects and everything else. It was the longest scream during a drop ever. Of course I was the only one screaming. Everybody of course stopped to look at me. I remember Roberto’s big eyes.
During the pause following that drop, I felt so proud.
Like anything in life, drops come in different forms, shapes and levels of complexity. They are composed of a lock that secures the final position. Drops also may or may not include climbing. But they always include the pause that is actually the realization that you can’t go back. Then, after the actual drop, and there’s that final pause.
When developing a choreography, drops are great tools that can really change the dynamic and pacing of a routine. They are useful when creating a simple accent, or a long moment of tension. Through drops, a teacher builds visual levels in space that enhance the choreography and can add to the storytelling. When creating a routine for students, it’s important to keep in mind the different levels of strength, flexibility and body alignment awareness of each student.
Another wonderful aspect of drops is their variety. Even beginners can have a taste of this thrill. Drops make everybody feel like a rock star!
But what the student must remember is that they require practice. When practicing, be wise. Choose simple drops for beginners and complex ones for advanced students. If you decide to use a drop as part of choreography, that is a different matter. Try to choose the one over which you have control, and which suits your storytelling best.
I have to say that drops are dangerous too. No matter how experienced or advanced you are, this kind of movement needs supervision and spotting. You should also only learn it from an experienced teacher.
At my recent workshop with Deb, my first workshop after my recent devastating injury, I practiced a simple drop. What a moment of relief, of freedom, to once again be able to let myself go.
No special effects this time; just a little laugh of joy inside myself, because I knew I could l fly again.
Drops are so much fun!