The first half of Semester III evolved around the preparation and implementation of the performance of “The Rite of Spring / Le Sacre du Printemps”. The semester was supposed to start with Module IX, led by the returning artist Mags Byrne, to intensify the trainees teaching skills. However, due to an unfortunate accident, Mags Byrne was unable to travel and her module had to be moved to May 2013 as Module XI of the I CAN MOVE programme.
Ronja Nadler, who was supposed to assist Mags Byrne in her module, was kind enough to replace the module with dance technique classes focusing on the Bartenieff Fundamentals during the second half of January. For that, the I CAN MOVE team would like to express its deepest gratitude.
Starting in February, the focus was shifted onto the performance. A preparatory module was held in the first half of February. The rehearsals for “The Rite of Spring / Le Sacre du Printemps” started mid February and culminated with the premiere on the 14.03.2013.
The performance was followed by a phase of dance technique classes led by the Austrian artist Mirjam Sögner, who focused on the sequential order technique in dance.
Module XI with Mags Byrne was then held in May 2013. She yet again focused on providing the trainees with more profound teaching technique and solid class preparation and implementation skills. The module consisted of a theoretic part and a practical implementation part with Al- Mustaqbal School.
Module XII was held by the dance medicine specialist Judith Elisa Kaufmann, who provided a practical and theoretical introduction into dance medicine and nutrition.
The semester was concluded with a rather comprehensive period of dance technique classes with the Austrian dancer Eva Maria Schaller, whose classes were inspired by counter-technique. During this period, Eva Maria Schaller accompanied the trainees in their quest to expand into the Palestinian communities by offering dance classes to women in villages. Additionally, a research team from the Special Unit for Peace Intervention in Conflict and Support to UNAOC at the Interuniversity Institute of Social Development and Peace (IUDESP, Spain) joined the I CAN MOVE programme to conduct ethnographic fieldwork with the Yante trainees in Ramallah for 20 days. The goal was to explore the positive impacts of the I CAN MOVE programme on the wellbeing of the young trainees, the social environment, the families and, at the same time, the street-children that participated in the performance of “The Rite of Spring / Le Sacre du Printemps”. The aim of the research team was to analyse the possible positive effects for non-violence, conflict transformation, social change and human rights in the area.
Dance Technique – January 2013
Ronja took the trainees through the techniques of Barenieff Fundamentals – movement techniques that improve flow, coordination and efficiency in movement. The various connectivities of the body were demonstrated to be the building blocks of efficient movement and they were examined and practised in great detail and on many levels. Her classes – which had to be brought forward because of an accident of another trainer – also focused on developing and understanding feet and leg articulation. Flexibility is key …
A “thank you” to her for doing it on such short notice, due to Mags Byrne’s accident.
Ronja’s Dance Technique class was based strongly on Barenieff Fundamentals, which are movement techniques that focus on achieving comfort and ease in the body. This includes smooth flow and improved coordination.
The work included Patterns of Total Connectivity. Bartenieff developed the theory of connectivity, which states that connectivities are the neuro-muscular building blocks of efficient movement. What was transported through this to the trainees is that by focusing on the basic coordination patterns in the body, they may be able to increase their overall efficiency, coordination and flow of movement. For example, breath as a principal motor for movement, CoreDistal- Connectivity, Head- Tail- Connectivity, Developmental patterns, Homologous, Homolateral and Cross-lateral- connectivity and especially spirals as an experience for total body integration.
Ronja Nadler worked Bartenieff’s theory of connectivities with the trainees on all levels, individually and with a partner, in sequences, through guided explorations and improvisations. Apart from that, the class focused on establishing a greater understanding of feet and leg articulation (tendues, jetés, pliés, turns, jumps), outward rotation, the alignment of the body, awareness of the moving body in space and developing a greater awareness of the group.
“In improvisational tasks I really could see Abed feeling free and creative, not blocking himself, but handling the task clever and with joy.”
“Kamel is a curious, ambitious trainee, always in great mood and very open and friendly. During class he is very calm, concentrated and hardworking, which is one of the reasons why he has progressed really fast.”
Intensive Module IX – Community Dance Practice with Street-children – February 2013
This intensive module started laying the groundwork for our first large-scale community performance ‘The Rite of Spring/Le Sacre du Printemps’. Apart from the choreographies to be taught, the trainees were given a deep grounding in how to develop warm-up exercises for the child performers; how to deal with their performers’ behaviour with special emphasis on awareness of the poorly developed social skills of the street-children; and how to create a community performance in general. An eye-opener for all of us …
From February 4 until 14, in the 10 days preceding the rehearsals of the community dance performance ‘The Rite of Spring / Le Sacre Du Printemps’ targeting street-children / child-labourers, the trainees together with the dance assistants Mirjam Sögner, Veronika Nadler and Mia Bilitza, learnt and embodied the choreography and were introduced to techniques of community work and prepared to deal with some of the challenges that might arise when working with disadvantaged youth and contrasting social strata. The trainees learnt the following in Module IX:
“When teaching one part to the others, Abed was very clear with his announcements and could easily bring focus into the group. He also organized well when it came to dividing into groups to give them different tasks. He showed logical thinking when the question arose of how the position was at one point, he just went back by reversing the movement.”
Intensive Module X – Creating a Community Dance Performance from Communication to Management – March 2013
Following on from the previous module, Nadia Arouri took our trainees step by step through the nitty-gritty of organising a community performance by means of practical training which was interspersed between the rehearsals. The sometimes tedious, but always essential details such as venues, transportation, publicity, attendance, photo-shoots and so on are just as important as the dance itself. Group dynamics made really big strides forward here …
This module stretched over the rehearsals period of ‘The Rite of Spring / Le Sacre Du Printemps’ from February 15 until March 27, 2103. The work and the learning process in this module alternated between sessions where the whole group of trainees was present and active, sessions where a small group of trainees worked together to fulfill a certain task as well as individual sessions.
For the trainees, side by side with the artistic process of creating a community dance performance, this module was a hands-on learning experience of how to organise a community dance performance from A – Z, especially when tackling important social discrepancies as in the case of this performance where street-children / child-labourers were combined with economically privileged children from private schools. The trainees learnt how to:
During this process the trainees also covered important issues of communication and conflict resolution. The trainees learnt how to address their issues of concern to the choreographer and the assistants. They learnt how to protocol their meeting and take decisions that concern the collective. They learnt how to deal with conflicting situations, when a constructive confrontation towards conflict resolution fails. Most importantly, they learnt the importance of being a group and supporting each other, especially then when they “agree to disagree”. At this point the trainees gradually started learning to appreciate their differences just as much their similarities, and hence, to grasp the values behind the following sentence in the mission statement of YANTE: “Participants express themselves while believing that the uniqueness of an individual lays in the diversity of the whole.”
Dance Technique – April 2013
Mirjam dealt with sequential order in her dance technique classes, helping our trainees get a deep understanding of body awareness by locating, examining and working on and with specific body parts – small deep muscles and the part of the skeleton to which they are attached, for example. The group then applied the knowledge gained in movement sequences in various phases – vertical, horizontal and combined. She also gave additional classes in the history of modern dance and looked at some of its leading figures. There are always to directions to any movement …
Based on sequential order, Mirjam’s Dance Technique class was built on 3 phases: Phase one focused on the horizontal, phase two on the vertical, and phase three on the combination of the horizontal and the vertical.
Phase one: ‘The Horizontal’ focused on body awareness, getting grounded and making the body available through floor work, bodywork and floor bar. The main principals in this phase were sequential order, spirals, rolling, entering and exiting the floor, gravity, weight, breath as well as release and strength.
Phase two: ‘The Vertical’ focused on skills, craft and strength, coordination, articulation and legwork, using the floor bar and basic elements of modern techniques and ballet combined with contemporary principles (which were worked on in the previous week). Exercising the body parts separately by strengthening and training awareness at the same time using techniques such as Pilates, spiral dynamics and release among others. The beginning of every class was dedicated to one specific body part, which was related to the muscular-skeletal system. This was accompanied by some theoretical and anatomical background information about where specific movements starts and which muscles, joints and bones are involved in this motion. In the next step trainees were provided with a very specific set of exercises targeting the smaller and deeper muscle layers (Pilates) to locate and train the necessary muscles in their own body, which they had worked on.
Phase three: Combining the horizontal and the vertical by translating release-based principles into the upright positions. This was done by mixing, combining and applying the theory. Focuses were on arms as a movement initiator, based on release-based principle in an upright position and how to relax versus how to release.
Some of the crucial principles that Mirjam worked on with the students were:
In addition to the Dance Techniques classes, extra hours were given to introduce the trainees to the history of modern and contemporary dance, discussing and hearing stories, inspirations, aspirations, context, work, legacy and influences of the most outstanding figures like Loie Fuller, Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey, José Limón, Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Reiner and Pina Bausch.
“Sawsan – Enormous improvement! If I look back at the Sawsan I have experiences in my fist classes and the woman I am teaching now I almost cannot believe that this is the same dancer! In this short time she managed to take a huge amount of pressure and stress out and just work. Which had the effect that all of a sudden her body would get more released and available – a quality she was far away from due to all the stress.”
“Summar – Has enriched the classes throughout with a great presence, a very attentive spirit and a lovely focus. She is enthusiastic, positive and not only a hard but also smart worker, who consequently invests in applying new, given knowledge. She takes corrections very serious and hardly chooses for the easy way out of technical problems – the reason why she managed to progress that much. She understands complex movement mechanisms quickly – even if this does not always happen instantly.”
Intensive Module XI – Teaching Dance to Children aged 8 to 12 – Part 2
This module was a continuation of Intensive Module II, whereby the trainees continued with their education as dance educators for young children. We focused more on the preparation and delivery skills than the dance techniques, as was to be expected. The importance of preparation and planning for a class, warm-up exercises to ensure safety, behaviour and attitudes of young children, child psychology, positive encouragement and the maintenance of order in the class – these things took precedence over the movement and technical abilities of our trainees. The text step towards being a teacher was taken …
Module IX was originally planned to take place from January 15 to February 1, 2013. However, Ms. Byrne had an unfortunate accident in the beginning of January, where she fell down and broke her chest rib. This unfortunate accident, on such short notice, rendered impossible any form of travelling, notwithstanding teaching, for Ms. Byrne. It was also too short a notice for either the organiser YANTE or for Ms. Byrne to organise a replacement. Ms. Byrne was also involved in a production throughout the month of April, which meant the earliest we could hold the module in Palestine was beginning of May 2013. The fact that most of the YANTE trainees are university students and the universities had their second exams in the fist half of May and the final exams in the second half of May, reflected negatively on the attendance of the YANTE trainees who had to balance their University achievements with the rigorous I CAN MOVE programme.
The possibility of finding a replacement for Ms. Byrne for this module was investigated thoroughly by the local staff of I CAN MOVE and the artistic direction of YANTE. The possibility was discarded due to the following reasons:
In Module IX, Mags Byrne built on the knowledge acquired by the trainees in Module II and enhanced their teaching skills in community and school contexts through more theory and practice. The module as a continuation to the previous one also focused on the age category 8 – 12. In this module the trainees deepened their knowledge of the different class structures, and the various responsibilities they bear as teachers, such as class safety measures, class planning and important pedagogical and psychological concepts necessary for the delivery of a dance class for children. The module focused on developing the trainees delivery skills, concentrating on how to encourage and then work with the children’s creativity, structuring that work for a performance, learning what is involved in the delivery of a small performance and building relationships with schools and school teachers.
The work with the children in the school was composed of different aspects; there were creative classes that led to the performance of a choreography. The theme for the choreography was a “Whale”, inspired by and based on the poetry book “Whale Nation” by Heathcote Williams. The intention was to look at the development of dance from words and stories in order to present performances that have a theme or accessible idea.
Children: 50 children aged 10 – 12 from grades 5 and 6 of the Mustaqbal School.
Choreographer/Trainer: Mags Byrne
Trainees: 6 Trainees: 2-3 Trainees per group
Audience of performance: About 100 (more than half of the parents, friends and some school students)
2.3. Training Sessions and Performance
4 hours training Group I (08:00 – 14:00)
4 hours training Group II (08:00 – 14:00)
2 hours training Group I + II (08:00 – 12:00)
Thursday May 16, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.
2.3.1 Structure and Content of Training
Each class included teaching of dance movements, as well as theory about the overall theme of whales and oceans. Space was given to the children for creativity where they could make their own movements.
The class started by asking the children to stand in silence. Then it was explained to them how this is hard even for professional dancers to do what they are about to do, hence any child able to do it will be a good dancer in the future.
As a second step the children were given the following action words: stretch, run, jump, turn, melt and explode.
After the warm up, in which the action words were chosen as a stepping-stone for the movements and choreography of the performance the trainees started with the lead-in section. In the lead in the trainees started introducing the children to the movements of the dance while explaining to them what each movement stands for, what it symbolises, and what the meaning of it is. For example illustrating how movement can looks like a river, how it runs to end up in the sea, followed by what happens in the sea.
In the main section the children were gathered around in a circle with the trainees, who explained that the dance was about a big whale. The trainees introduced the theoretic knowledge about whales, which is an important part of the dance. The trainees raised the awareness of the children to the situation of whales, and how they are being treated. The trainees explained:
Towards the end children were encouraged to come up with ideas on what they can do to help whales from dying and how they as humans can be not only active citizens, but also conscience citizens. The trainees emphasized on the importance of choices we, each and every single individual, make in our everyday life, such as which products we choose and buy in a supermarket or shop. How we can support a cause and become active citizens.
——A short 15 minutes break was given to the children to eat and drink ——
After the break the creation part was started where the kids where able to create movements according to the tasks given by the trainees. For example: the children were grouped in pairs to work as partners where one person is taking care of the other person who is hurt. The wonderful ideas and movements that were created by the children fascinated the trainees. It was also inspiring for the trainees to see empathy fostered between the children.
The movements created by the children were then all put together, rehearsed and performed on the May 16, 2013.
To finish the class children were brought together in the space to calm down and to bring their minds back to reality. Not only is it important that children do not go out of class impersonating the character of whales, for they could hurt themselves, but also it is important for children to realise the safety a dance spaces provides for them to be creative and unleash their fantasy.
In the cool-down section the children were shown appreciation for their efforts and praised for the commitment, engagement, discipline, and the great energy they invested as well as the creativity they provided.
2.3.2 Performance Day
May 16, 2013, 08:00-13:45
The performance took place at the Mustaqbal School. It consisted of the warm-up in front of the audience to show discipline and the movements that had been learnt in the warm-up. It was also a symbolic way to illustrate the importance of a warm-up. After the warm-up the children presented the performance of the choreography that they created in the training session on the theme of the whale.
The YANTE trainees and their trainer Mags Byrne explained to the audience the process that the children had undergone and the theme that they worked on to prepare the audience and also to stimulate empathy and understanding amongst the audience as well as encourage and empower the children before going on stage: “Look at how disciplined your kids are (even if they are not), look at how they are standing without moving (even if they are not), look how strong and powerful they are. Look how quiet and committed they are. Do you know that the important thing in learning is how to be quiet and how to listen? Do you also know that the performance you will be seeing was created by your children?”
The trainees and trainer also explained to the audience what the movements meant and symbolisee, e.g. “You see when the children move like this it represents the sea, or river, etc.”. Mags Byrne also explained to the parents how the children learn and develop their understanding of the topics as well as other skills through dancing.
4.1. Important facts to notice and be aware of as a trainer
4.2 Special Moments
Trainee Summar Rasras: “There are a lot of special moments I had, but the most special one was with the teacher of the kids. He came to help us and he was treating the children in a way I did not like. In order to let them stand in silence he used a military way by shouting and standing in line doing soldiers movements. I really hated that and asked Mags to ask him to go out because it is not our way of teaching at all, and we are against what is happening in schools. But Mags refused and said lets show him our way. Mags let the children do whatever they want, even getting crazy, and by counting, they have to be ready and silent at ten. Then the day of their performance, the teacher came back to help and he used our way to ask the children to be silent and ready. It was amazing, my tears were falling down.”
Intensive Module XII – Dance Medicine – May 2013
Judith E. KAUFMANN
Judith took our trainees through the medical science that explores the body processes underpinning dance. She enhanced their knowledge of cells and tissues and examined the process of nutrition and how crucial it is for a healthy body. Together with our trainees Judith then went on to look at the neural processes in the brain that are involved in learning a dance movement. The group also looked at eating disorders, how to recognise the symptoms and how to help with such cases. This knowledge could prove invaluable …
This module builds up on the trainees’ basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology acquired throughout their training and in Module III. This module provided a more profound understanding of the structure of the body and its organs and how to – in this sense – use them more organically. Judith Elisa Kaufmann reviewed the trainees’ knowledge on the cells, fibres (Collagen fires, Elastic fires, Reticular fires) and tissues (Epithel tissues, connective and supporting tissues, Fat tissues, Muscle tissues, Nerve tissues). She focused on the importance of fascia as connective and supportive tissues in the body. She presented Thomas W. Myers’ “Myofacial Trains” system and focused on the connection of the fascia and the lymph system.
Judith also introduced the trainees to the brain, its different parts and their functions. She set the focus on the role the brain plays in dancing. To really ‘store’ a movement in the brain, a dancer has to repeat it about 500 times; the more often it is repeated, the quicker and more intense the nervous conduction becomes. For a movement to become more and more fine-tuned, the dancer needs to know the movement really well so that the cerebellum takes over the control and allows the cortex to be released from its duty.
Judith E. Kaufmann shared valuable medical information with the trainees, who as future dance teachers in communities, will always be confronted with situations where such information will prove to be valuable and indispensable. For example: motion in general was once considered as not sophisticated, in terms of cognition (elevated brain work). However, science knows HOW much the brain of a dancer has to work and that even the parts of the brain responsible for logic or decision-making are also responsible for carrying out movement and vice versa.
Judith E. Kaufmann set a special focus in her module on well-balanced nutrition, its importance not only for a healthy dance career, but also for the balance of hormone production in the body, i.e. for healthy relationships and reproductive capacities. Further on she addressed the topics of anorexia and bulimia, their dangers and how – as a dance teacher – to detect them within participants, and most importantly of course, how to deal with such cases, especially among teenagers.
Dance Technique – May and July 2013
Eva Maria SCHALLER
Principally, Eva Maria Schaller’s classes looked at improvisation. Through improvisation she furthered the understanding of certain techniques or newly learned skills. She also worked on the techniques of improvisation in themselves, looking at different improvisational functions and how to achieve them, such as image-based improvisation and improvisation as a means to explore the ways we relate to others. She also deepened the trainees‘ knowledge of techniques to build up strength and flexibility in the legs and to improve coordination of the limbs with the core of the body. Improvisation = Exploration = Knowledge.
Eva Maria worked in her classes with different formats complementing each other, for example using improvisation to deepen the understanding of new information learnt in a technical exercise. She also worked on improvisation in itself, introducing different tasks and methods: playing with structural elements such as time and space, or instant compositioning, as well as image-based improvisations, improvisations dealing with a specific physical task and performative exercises that also have an improvisational character. The classes were divided into two parts, one dealing with technical exercises or Yoga (also for building strength and awareness in the body through clear postures), and the other one working with and on improvisation.
Technical principles: Eva Maria Schaller worked with the trainees on weight, strength in the legs and articulation in the feet, knees and hip joint, starting off with simple exercises such as plies – bending the legs and bringing attention to the alignment of the legs. The floor-work focused on spiral and sequential movement, legs or arms as initiation-points, as well as coordination of arms and legs in relation to the body.
She also worked on upside down postures like handstands and cartwheels, as well as the concept of off-balance and falling. The action and principle of swinging was also addressed in various exercises. Building up on Mirjam’s work, Eva Maria Schaller focused on finding the balance between strength and release, creating a sense of space inside and around the moving body. Schaller was always looking to demonstrate the connection to the inner-self in order to be present while dancing/moving and finally finding a way to express oneself genuinely.
Improvisations and awareness principles: Eva Maria Schaller focused on dance as a way to expand one’s awareness. Improvisation and the partner-exercises can give tools and eventually more possibilities of choices in how to relate to others. In dance this happens fist and mainly on a physical level, but it can be translated to the psychological and non-physical level as well. Those dance classes attempted to try out and play with the different ways and choices of how to deal with oneself and the surrounding environment. During Eva’s classes, five researchers from the Master Programme “Peace, Conflict and Development Studies” from the Special Unit for Peace Intervention in Conflct and Support to UNAOC at the Interuniversity Institute of Social Development and Peace (IUDESP, Spain) joined the classes from June 11 to 26, 2013.
The research team conducted ethnographic fieldwork with the Yante trainees in Ramallah for 20 days to explore the positive impacts of the I CAN MOVE programme on the well being of the young trainees, their social environment and families and at the same time the street children that participated in the performance of ‘The Rite of Spring / Le Sacre du Printemps’. The aim of the research team was to analyse the possible positive effects for non-violence, conflict transformation, social change and human rights in the area.
The research team, together with the I CAN MOVE trainees created an artistic short-film about the I CAN MOVE programme, focusing on the trainees and their dancing. The short film was presented at the Plural+ Youth Video contest of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.
“Jehad is a natural researcher. She has the ability to take her time and really investigate deeply into the functionality of a movement or task. She is keen on getting new information from outside as well as through her own explorations.”
“Adnan, I was surprised about his physical talent and abilities. His movement was especially very clear and is quite articulated. He is fast in picking up material and quite open, playful and attentive in improvisations.”
“Hala made a mature impression on me. This showed also as she wasn’t afraid of making mistakes. She was serious about working, not afraid of making an effort and investing in herself. She worked concentrated. It was interesting to see how she deals with her own
fear and that she showed some courage in the trust exercise, which actually caused a big development. She is a natural improviser, physically fully committed when she dances and able to express emotions quite freely.”