These are the forms, methods or modalities that I teach. By that I mean that I teach classes or parts of workshops where I present them in the form that I learned them as opposed to forms which influence my work which you’ll find here. Here I give general descriptions together with information about who taught me and links to further information on the web.
Authentic Movement is a rich and complex process which evolves from a collection of simple structures where one person moves with eyes closed and another takes the role of a witness. The task of the mover is to listen to the inner impulses of the body to move, and follow them into movement – “being moved and moving”. The task of the witness is twofold: to “listen” with their eyes and their whole body to the mover and to “listen” to their own internal experience of witnessing.
In moving, you may find the process maps out familiar “inner spaces”. It may then unfold to explore less familiar “inner spaces”. In witnessing, a parallel process occurs as you recognise and explore the “inner spaces” that you witness from. Both mover and witness can write, draw and talk as a way of reflecting on the experience afterwards. By alternating roles we begin to understand the possibilities and pitfalls inherent in each.
The practice of authentic movement builds our ability to be present to ourselves as we act and to others as we observe. Over time we can come to internalise the role of the witness and witness our own moving. By attempting to separate and examine what it is to move and what it is to witness movement, the work lends clarity to these processes in any situation that’s moving – in movement work, in watching and making performance work, and in life.
When many people are asked to consider learning anatomy, questions that often arise are: “Doesn’t it involve spending a lot of time studying thick textbooks full of complicated latin names?”; “Isn’t it very difficult and/or very boring?”; and, “Isn’t that something that only doctors, nurses and physiotherapists need to know about?” The answer to all these questions is, “No!” Human anatomy is the study of the structure of the human body. It is one way that we experience and know about our physical selves.
The textbook approach is just one way to learn anatomy which is especially appropriate for healthcare professionals. An alternative is experiential anatomy which is very practical in its approach. It’s interesting, fun to explore, and offers great benefits to anyone who takes time to work with it.
And we all rely on this knowledge all the time, whether we know it consciously or not. When faced with a unfamiliar physical task we have to figure out how to organise our structure in order to do it – how to lift , how to climb, how to manipulate an object – and before we can organize our structure we have to have some idea what it is. Even the familiar things that we rarely question, like walking, we once had to figure out how to do by applying our knowledge of our structure.
We all have enough basic knowledge to get by most of the time. But often some elements of this basic knowledge are inaccurate – at best that limits what we can do, at worst it can cause us harm. Even a little extra accurate knowledge of how our physical structure is put together can change how we perceive ourselves, how we move and both our susceptibility to injuries and our ability to recover from them.
Experiential anatomy differs from the textbook variety in its emphasis on functionality. To explain a little more about the kind of process involved in a class. For example, where does your arm begin? At your shoulder joint? Your shoulder blade? Your breastbone? Your spine? In your…
Through looking at pictures and anatomical skeletons we get some idea of what the structure is like. Then through simple guided movements and touch exploration, both alone and with others, we can get a feel for what is really there in ourselves. You’ll be surprised just what a difference such a simple process can make to how you move and how you feel about yourself. And you’ll notice that the latin names are not mentioned.
My Teachers: Bill Palmer, Andrea Olsen, Caryn McHose, Olena Nitefor
Although “improvisation” is often used as a tool to generate material in choreographed dance pieces or in devising for theatre, the improvisation that I am interested in is practiced as an end in itself. I love watching experienced improvisers performing together. Sometimes it can be amazing and sometimes not: part of the excitement of seeing work being made in the moment is that it is so unpredictable. What especially interests me is the process involved. What I find so exciting is to observe that patterns and forms of organisation that arise when no one is in charge and no one knows ahead of time what is going to happen.
It’s a bit like those moments in scripted theatre when something unexpected happens – if the performer is alive to the possibilities of the moment then sometimes something quite magical can occur. It’s this unique in-the-moment-ness quality that audiences love. Maybe it’s also what draws music fans to buy bootlegged copies of live gigs as well as all the official records – the promise of the unexpected.
Improvised performances and improvisational exercises often use a minimal score to set a frame for what is about to happen – a set time for a piece is an obvious example or a maximum number of people that can be “on” at any one moment is another. For me, the subject of an improvisation is how people make choices in the moment on how to respond to the physical space they are in and how to respond to the choices that others sharing that space are making. Within that there are many skills involved: the ability to listen to oneself and others, spatial awareness and a sense of timing are some major skills I can think of.
What I love about the form is that the skills of improvising are somehow independent of “dance” skills – I’ve seen highly technically trained dancers make a real mess of it while in some workshop situations I’ve seen people “in off the street” make work that’s utterly compelling. It seems to me that improvisation is a whole other layer of skill above that of one’s movement ability or range.
That improvisation is a skill in itself also opens it up for improvisers from different disciplines to share a common language to teach each other and perform together. The most obvious trade is with musicians, and, to a lesser extent, with actors where the practice of improvisation is already well established, though anyone with improvisational skills could join in. I’ve seen some great interdisciplinary improvisational performances.
Teachers: Julyen Hamilton and Simone Forti are the two big influences on my practice and teaching improvisation. Katie Duck, David Zambrano, Kirstie Simson, Steve Paxton, Chris Aiken, Lisa Nelson, Christie Svane, Felice Wolfzahn, Pauline De Groot, Bo Madvig