Majorette in Belgium - Understanding each other

“You didn’t understand me, did you?”
Busted.
I nodded along to a conversation in a very different dialect in a very loud bar. No, I did not get it. But I hoped you liked my smiling face….

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The Dutch and the Flemish officially speak the same language. However, Flemish is a very particular dialect of the Dutch language with many different words. And the group I was training this weekend all spoke Flemish. Fast!

The 15 girls and 1 man of Majoretteketet invited me to train their improvisation skills. They are a marjorette club, dancing with their batons in parades. It is a form of performance art that is unfortunately dying out in both our countries.

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Majorette is a dance style that can be best compared with cheerleading. But then less bouncy, more controlled and using a stick. This group however has their own style with fun choreographies, cute costumes and improvising with the situation that is presented.

Last weekend I helped them train on the latter. Because as their dance squad leader told me: she is often the only one improvising. They hoped I could take some of their fear away.

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Working with dancers is a terrific experience. I now like them even better than during my younger years in and around a dance school. Very bluntly put: dancers know what happens below their neck. And that is just a wonderful thing to see.

In 10 hours of training we worked on attitude, group work, supporting your partner, improvising in theatre and improvising in dance. We were all doing something new: me training a marjorette-troupe and them… Well, improvising.

The majoretten always parade through different kinds of environments. So we imagined fountains, policemen, markets, skaters, a zoo, bored elderly people and supermarkets to be there. Everything that was in the environment could be used for improvising dance steps, improvising poses and improvising mimed theatre.

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And we got incredibly far. They performed entire routines, including ‘stick-tricks’ and environment-related dance steps, but then totally improvised. I love that our two disciplines merged together so beautifully.

Eventually we truly understood each other. Improv and Majoretten. Dutch and Flemish.