Prototechnique at Ponderosa Stolzenhagen. Photo from Video by Andrea Keiz

proto- (first, primitive, ancestral); indicating a precondition or an early stage of development of certain features. As in protoplasm, prototype, protohuman, protolanguage, etc
technique; a way of carrying out a particular task, especially the execution or performance of an artistic work or a scientific procedure; skill or ability in a particular field; a skilful or efficient way of doing or achieving something

This is a process-oriented dance class focused on how we experience ourselves moving. We examine how that experience is shaped by how we imagine ourselves into being, according to both our personal histories and mythologies and the cultures and languages in which we are immersed. The aim is to develop self-awareness as a tool for creating and refining our own dance practices: widening the range of movement vocabulary and qualities; improving ease, efficiency and flow in movement; recovering from and avoiding injury.

The impossibility of a purely physical training is assumed from the start. The class encourages critical and conceptual interrogation of the many discourses that shape our experience. It is a class about dancing in context.

Form and Content

The classes include material from experiential anatomy, ideokinesis and the Feldenkrais Method. They are part interactive lecture, part guided and part open movement exploration. The invitation is to enter into a perceptual dialogue with ourselves in which we become the experts of our own experience.

There is no self-contained closed system presented here. It’s more the sharing of an open-ended inquiry that’s not concerned with finding answers but creating a multiplicity of different solutions or viewpoints. This is a process that embraces mystery and doubt. The ultimate focus is pragmatic. What works for us.

The form was developed as a two-hour morning class for professional dancers. However, its continual mapping of movements back to the simple acts of standing and walking means the material is approachable and useful for anyone. And because each person works alone with the material, it is in fact suitable for groups of mixed abilities, skills and interests.

Resources for students and the curious

For those interested in how I arrived at teaching these classes then I have written at length about the background and development of them in my MA thesis entitled Awareness Perception Presence : Inquiring Into Forming A Body Of Work. Don’t worry, it’s not written in academic language. It can be downloaded as a PDF.

I usually record any Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement portions of classes that I teach and make the recordings available in MP3 format to those who have attended them. Please contact me saying when and where you studied with me to receive a link and password.

For anyone interested in organising a workshop

These classes were developed as a morning technique classes for professional dancers. Every class presents a different idea and are grouped into five-class series addressing particular themes. Individual classes are constructed so that it makes sense to someone dropping in for a single class, while participants attending daily have something more like a workshop experience.

Because everyone works independently in these classes and the fact that the movements introduced are simple, it’s possible for people with different technical backgrounds and skill levels to be present in to room together at the same time without compromising each other’s experience. Everyone works to their own level. …

This is a quite unique proposition – a professional-level class that dancers can bring their friends and relatives to and everyone can fully benefit from.

For dance departments in educational institutions then, while the classes can be offered to a single year group, there is the additional flexibility of being able to offer a course to students from different groups at the same time. For example, different skill levels, technical backgrounds, year groups or even different disciplines (eg. actors, puppeteers, fine artists).

Finally, it’s no problem to adapt the class series to whatever time slot is available. A single masterclass format is also possible. For regular bookings then different themes can be addressed on different visits.

  • classes can be 2-3 hours long – 2 hours 30 minutes is ideal
  • up to around 40 people maximum (the exact size of the class depend on the size and acoustics of the studio)
  • can be presented as workshop and/or drop-in class
  • because of the solo nature of the exploration then it’s possible to address different skill levels, technical backgrounds, or disciplines at the same time
Requirements
  • studio needs to be warm
  • yoga-type mats for all
  • a life-size skeleton as a teaching aid if possible (if not then I can work from books)
  • the ability to play music from my iPod/computer
it’s part lecture …
part anatomical exploration …
part guided movement exploration …
part Feldenkrais class …
 … and then free dancing

Moving From The Fish Body

the core five-class Proto-technique series … more …

Juxtaposition

Proto-technique together with Sara Shelton Mann’s Body Process … video…