Semester IV kicked off in August 2013 with Intensive Module XIII, conducted by Martin Sonderkamp from the University of Cologne for Music and Dance. This was a contemporary dance workshop focusing on choreographic practice and artistic research.
It was succeeded by Dance Technique classes conducted by Eva Maria Schaller in August and September 2013 as a continuation of her work with the trainees in the previous semester. The focus was on head-tail connection, finding ease in the movement, working from a released state of mind and body, clear initiations of movement, improvisation as well as partner work in contact.
Intensive Module XIV was held by Pete Ayres, who had previously done the stage and light design for I CAN MOVE’s performances and returned to Palestine in September. This module focused on Technical Theatre Arts Training. Ayres also conducted an additional module for professional light technicians from various theatres.
Intensive Module XV – Somatically-Oriented Dance Technique – led by Malcolm Manning followed in October 2013.
Further Dance Technique training of this semester was in the hands of the very capable visiting artist Lina Höhne. Her teaching programme took place from October to December 2013. It started with one group and was extended to a second group of trainees when a number of artists from the Ramallah Drama Academy joined the programme end of November. Unfortunately the whole second group, with the exception of one participant, had to end the semester prematurely in the middle of December due to bad weather and snow as well as exams at the Ramallah Drama Academy.
Intensive Module XVI, titled ‘Learning how to Learn’ was conducted by Jurij Konjar in November 2013 and covered many aspects of dance teaching and learning, including perception of music, how to perform and not perform, music and dance, dance and movement, composition, Yoga and Tai Chi. Throughout the semester all trainers accompanied and mentored the trainees in weekly community dance classes they taught for women and children at schools in the villages of Budros and Qibya, as well as at the Girls’ Rehabilitation Centre in Jenin.
This semester provided a great opportunity for the trainees to reorganise themselves and develop their individual as well as collective identity, create their own space and set up a base at the town of Birzeit and within the walls of the Shurouq community centre, network and create weekly joint classes with the Palestinian Circus School, as well as expand their reach into society by regularly increasing the number of classes in the various community groups. Furthermore, the long-term presence of Lina Höhne and her strong involvement in the Palestinian cultural scene created a stability that led to the establishment of a second group of trainees, consisting of students from the Ramallah Drama Academy and students from Birzeit University.
Intensive Module XIII – Recycling Choreography in the Shadow of Phenomenology – August 2013
This intensive module revised and further developed our trainees’ knowledge of anatomy, gave them an introduction to the Klein technique and also furthered their Yoga capabilities. The theoretical instruction on anatomy was reinforced by dance technique exercises focusing on various body connections and Martin then brought it all together with appropriate choreography exercises.
Improvisational exercises to develop creativity were also held, using various sources for inspiration and analysis of factors affecting the creation of choreography. Can one ever learn enough about choreography?
Martin’s module looked at the participants’ knowledge of anatomy, introduced the Klein Technique to them, worked on composition and choreography and introduced Yoga practices. The technique practice built on the knowledge gained of anatomy and focused on the various parts of the body (shoulder girdle, leg- pelvis connections and so on) and how they worked and moved when dancing. The choreography exercises then built on the techniques learned thus unifying the anatomical and technical knowledge.
Texts, podcasts and online lectures about recognition and perception theories were used to build the foundations on which the trainees worked on, namely the topics of perception, intention, reflection, interpretation and identity, all of which were developed by means of improvisational and choreographic exercises.
Short video clips of the choreographic work of Antonia Baehr, Meg Stuart, Jonathan Burrows, Phillip Gehmacher, Xavier Leroy and others were viewed and analysed by the participants in order to examine their conceptual basis and working methods. With the aid of these analyses the participants obtained examples of methods on the basis of which they could draft movement studies which they could pass on to others. The process aimed to lead to the creation of short choreographic sketches to show each other and to have them rewritten through a process of mutual interpretation, with the participants also adding their feedback.
The questions Martin directed towards the trainees included:
• What types of physicality have become marked as a result of specific cultural norms?
• What types of physicality and movements are “inherited” autobiographically?
• How do these “cultural” bodies compare with our own autobiographical bodies?
• How is each single, individual identity integrated into the plurality of the group?
Martin also got the trainees to examine the expectations of an audience towards a performer.
Dance Technique – August and September 2013
Eva Maria SCHALLER
We continued to deepen and broaden our trainees’ technical ability with classes designed to help them observe and understand the movement process – how to create movement in every part of the body, how to initiate movement, how to release tension, how to breathe. In addition, Eva’s training covered warm-up exercises for the entire body, moving from inspiration to choreographic composition and covering a good number exercises focusing on partner work and group dynamics. Team-building is making good progress …
After the summer break, Eva Maria Schaller returned to conduct an intensive series of classes designed to create movement in every part of the body, to observe, become aware of and understand the creative process; how movement is initiated; what to do with it. In the previous semester (Semester III) Eva had focused on technical exercises and Yoga in order to create awareness of the body and its potentialities for self-expression and went on to explore these potentialities by means of improvisation. Now the students learned how to release tensions, to trust each other, to work together in partner exercises. Further work on warming up and breathing exercises also featured.
The classes continued to build on the technical principles learned in Semester III, working with the trainees on breathing, releasing tension, warming up the spine, head and tail connection and initiation, plies, tendus, head rolls, arm-swings, turns and other exercises involving the whole body. The choreographic focus now moved from improvisation to composition, working from and creating images and rhythms, using the techniques learned to develop the improvisations further. Partner work featured exercises such as: exchange between active and passive with remaining in physical contact with a focus on transition between the states; soft quality, getting away from form-orientation and letting the body listen and follow its own impulses. In this semester Eva Maria Schaller also paid particular attention to floor-work. The comprehensive exercises included starting from the starfish to child-pose and moving on through diagonal pulls through the arms and legs, leaning and falling, moving into handstands and cartwheels with the focus on spatial awareness, eye contact and group dynamics.
“Good concentration in the whole group. Especially Adnan’s focus changes drastically when he is leading and following, doing the exercise.”
“Asef can improve by working on precision and acting from the point of where his body is in the moment without too much thinking.”
“Jehad is sensitive and a lot of movement comes out of her body, concentrated, also able to recreate the movements.”
Intensive Module XIV – Technical Theatre Arts Training – September 2013
What goes on during a theatre performance? Who are the other people we need – apart from the dancers or artists? What makes a theatre? These questions and many others were asked and answered by Peter Ayres in this intensive module with a good mix of theory and practice. For many, it was an eye-opener to learn just how many people and skills are involved in theatre production and performance. Light, set, sound, production design, stage-management … the list is long.
The module consisted of both theoretical and practical sessions as a general introduction to technical theatre arts. The theoretical sessions provided an overview of theatre hierarchy, examining the key personnel intrinsic to the conception, creation, realisation and delivery of a theatrical production, and outlining the responsibilities within and around each department.
The trainees together with the instructor Pete Ayres explored the various design aspects of a theatrical production, considering the priorities for each part of the overall design, within the parameters and constraints of the production, company, and venue, examining the relationship between the different areas of design, and the artistic opportunities presented.
These sessions also outlined the responsibilities of theatre technicians, analysing the roles and functions within each department and the specific duties of the stage management team.
Pete also gave the trainees a detailed look at lighting, spread over two theoretical sessions – the various types of lanterns available, the different lenses and the visual effects they could produce, the range of angles of the source of illumination and their physical effects, for example limiting or extending the area of the stage in use by means of lighting effects. He also covered lighting design, light effects on skin tones and costumes, and rigging and de-rigging procedures including routing of cables and information to controls, consoles etc.
A look at backdrops was also covered – with the various options available and the lighting options and effects one could use on them for conveying moods, focusing audience attention or creating settings of time, action and space, for example rosy light for dawn intensifying to broad daylight represented by bright white light thus demonstrating the passage of time.
Practical sessions followed, making use of a variety of light sources, lenses, positioning, focus and intensity to create different results, which were then analysed. Technical rehearsal paperwork was also studied and the trainees learned how to create plot sheets. An overview of technical terms used in design concepts was also covered. Finally, a practical exercise in designing for a chosen piece followed, preparing a cue sheet with cue points, desired states and times, and presenting the physical realisation of that design. This included an examination of students’ proficiency in communication of requirements and achievement and a final peer review session. A master class for professionals was also held in the course of the module where some of the trainees who had a special interest in the field attended.
Intensive Module XV – Awareness Perception Presence – October 2013
Each of us is a thinking, moving, feeling subject, constantly interacting with our environment. By improving our movement we can improve all aspects of our lives and this can be done by means of somatics, which deals with how our bodies work. Through experiential anatomy and the Feldenkrais method we learned to make full use of our bodies’ capabilities. Explanation and analysis were an integral part of the classes. Is Malcolm’s motto ‘I move, therefore I am?’
Malcolm focused on somatics, mainly experiential anatomy and the Feldenkrais Method, supported by exercises from a range of other somatic practices. The Feldenkrais method is a somatic educational system which not only offers to improve the quality, range and comfort with which one moves, but, since we are moving every moment of our lives, through improving movement it aims to improve all that one does. The method is taught in two forms: in group Awareness Through Movement (ATM) classes and one-to-one Functional Integration (FI) lessons. In both cases one is invited to engage in a pleasurable and playful process through which, simply by paying attention to physical sensations that attend movement, we develop a fuller knowledge of ourselves in action.
“If you know how to walk you know how to dance… From a somatic viewpoint, the human being is a unified system and how we move is thus a reflection of the state of the whole system. In practice this means the quality of our movement is bound up with the quality of our perception of our environment, thought processes and emotions. It is this nexus that my dance technique class first attempts to uncover and then give tools and create experiences to at least improve and possibly even transform the quality of the participants’ dancing.”
Through the somatic educational system of the Feldenkrais Method and by means of the principles of experiential anatomy, Malcolm sought to instill in the trainees the importance of the way we experience ourselves in movement and in life. Each session would begin by scanning the body in walking and then in standing and then move on to anatomical or somatical or Feldenkrais exercises.
Experiential anatomy focuses on locating anatomical structures within one’s body by noticing and examining our inner sensations. Often this is done through movement or through the touch and guided movement of another. The process involves examining pictures in anatomy books and three-dimensional models and seeking to locate the structures within one’s own body. One can therefore develop a clearer self-image and thus improve the way one moves.
Malcolm linked the somatics of dance with a regular daily routine which involved taking alignment and the sensation of alignment in walking and standing as a reference, then exploring through small gentle movements some specific reference movements particular to the theme of the day. Discussion and explanation rounded off the classes.
Dance Technique October – December 2013
More anatomical work followed in the Dance Technique classes, where Lina looked at the structure of the skeleton as a base and as a moving force, at the use of head, shoulders and arms in movement, the generation of movement from the fingers through the hand and wrist to the arm and creating momentum. She also took the trainees through the process of teaching a class and further worked on choreography. Half way there …
The first three weeks of classes were technically focused on the use of shoulders and arms in movement. Lina was looking at this region of the body through anatomy, BMC Connections and use in floor-work. Her main followed ideas were the supportive use in connection to the structure of the skeleton as a base and as a moving force into jumping, rolling and spirals, while using momentum through swing. Improvisation was used as a tool to explore the area as well as set phrases.
In general Lina tried to generate release in the system of the body. In the sense of improvisation, she worked a lot on freeing the mind, freeing the movement and referring to a state of freedom inside the frame of time and space of her classes.
The practical topics covered included: focus – finding clearness between mind and body; lifting technique – building trust; commitment to learning a difficult phrase; floor work technique –release inside the body; hand-arm- shoulder connections – generating movement from the fingers; constructive rest; arm power and momentum; breathing – feeling it in different areas of the body; shaking – following the ow, the momentum into swing; contact improvisation.
Lina’s comment: “I was very touched by their freedom of the mind and the artistic level of thought and work with the body. I saw the students as great personalities, very individual on their way into dancing.”
After a two-week break for Jurij Konjar’s Intensive Module (section 4.4.6), a new group from the Drama Academy in Ramallah joined and Lina worked with them on the basics of contemporary technique.
With the first group Lina continued with the technique classes (Spirals, Head &Tail Connection, the involvement of the head into movement; how to work in the cold, how to use the body in the winter; Yoga Exercises on the mats and shaking/ running/jumping and turning to stay warm and soft). She also moved on to training the group in Teaching Skills:
– dance for children
– movement analysis
– build-up of a class – how to plan a lesson and how to put movement into words
– how to build a phrase
– how to use music.
Each of the students planned a technique lesson and taught it to the rest of the group. Afterwards feedback was given and a discussion followed.
More work was also done on choreography: beginning with a single danced comment which was added to and developed throughout the rest of the semester, with the trainees becoming ‘directors’ of the phrases they themselves created and developed.
Lina could look positively at the result, as she put it: “For the material I took inspiration from the space, the winter and the feeling of the group. This material was given to them. In other exercises I asked them to work on their own ideas in Solos and Duets with each other.
Even though nothing was showed to the public in the end, there was a rich creative process happening that from my observation opened their perception to express deeper meaning through movement.”
The trainees also had one-on-one sessions in preparation for their classes with the community groups in Jenin, Budros, Qibya and at the Ramallah Municipality.
Intensive Module XVI – Learning to Learn – November 2013
Together with the trainees Jurij took a hard look at the teaching/learning process. This consisted of each of our trainees creating ‘something to teach’ and then teaching it under strict time constraints, followed by analysis and discussion in order to bring about improvement. Various aspects of movement and how to teach it were examined, giving our trainees valuable lessons to take with them and thus increasing their confidence with the knowledge gained. Learning is the foundation of teaching …
Jurij’s aim was to de-mystify the teaching/learning process, to break it down into its component parts, to make it accessible, to remove its aura of complexity. Essentially, we are teaching and learning all the time.The focus of the module was on the constructive process and how it is observed, communicated, understood and repeated. Every day the trainees would have to create something in a short space of time and teach it to each other or Jurij. This hands-on, intensive ‘attack’ on the teaching process gave the trainees a new perspective on their work in the I CAN MOVE programme and increased their con dence in their abilities.
Day 1: Dancing, training, instant composition, performance
Day 2: Dancing and music, perceiving dance in others, constructing and being constructed
Day 3: Splitting the focus, performing, inverse walking, the idea of expanding the dance/exercising outside of space and time allocated for it, teaching strengthening and exercising
Day 4: Constructing the body, extending to full size, reaching, working with higher muscle tone
Day 5: Sensing, tracking instant composition, conversing about where we are, stimulating interest
Day 6: Dynamic centre, perception of movement through a retrospect of the choices made by the body, clarity in proposing and in reading, co-existence of dancer-observer, instant composition in duets
Day 7: Creating meeting points by various materials that are being proposed, teaching-learning similarities, invention and choreography
Day 8: Repetition as a learning tool, learning a xed set of movements, facing dif culty, precision in sequencing movement
Day 9: Tai Chi Father Form, training, clarity and working together in real time
Day 10: An overview of what was done.
Kamel – A very good dancer. He has a natural ability to learn and be curious.
Hala – Works intelligently and very hard, has a good presence in class. She has made great progress in the ten days.
Abed – Abed is a beautiful dancer and clearly has a rich emotional life inside.
Asef – I nd that to discover new things in dance he would do well to work on versatility, challenging himself.
Rafat – He has an ability to access the inner dance with ease. He is clearly interested in learning.