Inspired by the talk with French dancer Diane Auriol in Central Park on a very hot day in New York City
Yesterday I had a wonderful time strolling around Central Park and chatting with dancer Diane Auriol. Diane studies Graham-technique and has a strong foundation in Ballet, which she highlights to be the work of her teacher back home in France. Due to her efficient ballet training, dancing experience in the US has technically been easy. What has she found in the NY dance scene that has rocked her world? It is something that I myself hold dear as well, the love for the moments in dance improvisation
As dancers our training is very different and our bodies in fact are the opposites. Diana having flexible ligaments she is cautious about over extending. Where as my ligaments are stiff, I have to work more on my flexibility to meet Diane in the middle where she has arrived from the other extreme. When we improvise we both enjoy the opportunity to let our bodies lead the movement. Diane can let her arms explore the pathways otherwise unvisited and I like to play with my strength and balance. And we both love the unexpected in improvisation when we work with our reaction speed, catching ourselves, finding new, being movement explorers is exciting. Our dances look different but come from the same source of movement philosophy, celebrating of what makes us and finding new.
I have stated before that understanding this freedom of motion is a valuable skill for a dancer. Choreographers look for dancers who can search for new movement. This type of improvisation is the opposite for pre-learned movement. It is not about building combos from moves that have names. It is about going outside the familiar neural connections, it is about dancing through the awkwardness. But, by no means is improvisation unskilled practice or abandoning of technique. In fact it is finding your personal technique, experimenting the unique built of your body. It is raising awareness of the infinite possibilities that lie within us, shifting of mindset to allow the experience of flow to actualize in our movement. That is the skill that businesses hire consults for in order to foster creative problem solving. Improvisational leadership is in a curriculum of prestigious Universities. These valuable skills can be part of dance and as well as public education.
From our discussion with Diane, I also noticed something heart felt. There still seems to be choreographers out there who keep up the often unhealthy demand for dancers to look a certain way. When dancer is healthy and strong, there is still talk about too much muscle, too little something or not enough something. While fashion industry is working towards positive body image, dance needs to have the same collective change in how we approach about our bodies. I believe with improvised movement we can do exactly this. We can teach young dancers and people new to dance right from the beginning to understand both worlds, the technique class and improvisation. By raising the importance of celebrating our differences and finding common experiences we can connect with each other, create together, share and increase the positive vibes in the dance culture. Most of us do not become professional dancers, however the skills learned at the dance studio can make us better professionals.
Diane will be collaborating with the Dancing Cards by organizing a Dancing Cards shoot in South of France in December 2017. Sign up for our newsletter to find out more...
The city of Oulu Finland is called the northern dance capital of Finland for a reason. Local dancers have tirelessly worked together to create one of the versatile dance scenes in the Scandinavia. Experimental dance from the US has been performed at the Central Park of Oulu the Ainolan Puisto, the woods of the city gather audiences for multi-sensory dance performances, it is not uncommon to see people blindfolded holding each other's hands on the streets of Oulu while participating in a performance art piece. Dance events in the city have been the destination of street dance pilgrims for over a decade and the city has notable amount of dance studios compared to its population. The dance phenomena in Oulu is something worth learning from. Strong dance communities like Oulu that make dance inclusive and accessible to everyone, are build from the collaboration across dance styles. The city officials as well as people of Oulu love dance and appreciate the sight of it in the beautiful scenery of Oulu. It is as if the dancers and city officials one day decided "Together we can!".
The Dancing Cards concept aims to spread the Oulu dance atmosphere world wide by offering exciting opportunities for dancers to connect across boarders. Check out our CollectiveDAnce and join the fun!
#dance #Oulu #dancer #improvised #valve #dancingcards #inclusive
Improvisational dance connects me to my most abstract and distant desires. It fuses the intention of mind and body in a way that I haven’t yet found an equal for. The specialness of improvisational dance lies in its closeness to play. Through the act of listening to and acting on the impulses of the body and mind, we can connect deeply to our inner child and all of the other parts of us that spend their lives mostly in the shadows. We can give voice to the dark parts, the small parts, and the
parts that find it hard to verbalize. Improvisation is a skill that dancers always end up utilizing. It may be the most important skill a dancer can have. No matter how long a dancer spends rehearsing a choreographed dance in a studio where
conditions are controlled, that dancer ultimately performs their dance on a stage, outside, in a museum, or in any other number of spaces where the elements that could affect them are out of their control. Being familiar with improvisational dance practices gives dancers the freedom to navigate spaces or situations that they may not have had a lot of time
to prepare for. And yet, improvisational dance is not the focus of most dance curriculums, even for young children for whom it comes most naturally. Any improvising that does occur in creative dance programs for children isn't named as such, and seen as a stepping stone to the more important task of learning ‘real’ dance moves with names. This glossing over of improvisational dance in mainstream dance curriculums does a huge disservice to the dance community as a whole
and to individual dancers most acutely. If dance teachers and practitioners gave the rigor and attention to the study and practice of improvisational dance that it deserves, we’d have a cultural gem with as rich and varied a history as improvisational jazz has accumulated since its outset. Fortunately, more and more resources are beginning to amass for
dancers who are interested in learning to improvise or to push their improvisational practice to the next level. Dancing Cards and Collective Dance are great examples of concrete contributions to the improvisational dance community that allow practitioners to develop a regular practice and to dialogue with others who are experimenting similarly.
I recently spent some time using the collective dance submissions on dancingcards.com to fuel my own improvisational dance practice. The suggestions that I used got me out of the studio and interacting with the world around me. They allowed me to expose strangers on the street to my improvisational practice in an organic way, and they spurred me to try things I wouldn’t have otherwise. I highly encourage anyone who is interested in improvisational dance to find some spaces
in your community where you can experiment with the tasks below:
Dancing Cards ™ task "Dancing in Water"
Imagine you are standing in a puddle of water about 2 inches deep. Shift your weight on one leg. With your free-floating leg, begin to draw shapes on the surface of the water. When you lose your balance, switch legs and repeat the task. Eventually include your arms to draw three-dimensional shapes with the leg. Continue to draw your way through space.
Dancing with a Wall
Make the wall your dancing partner. Use the surface of the wall to play
with pressure, gravity, tension and release. You can use the support
and stability of the wall to practice pushing against and catching
yourself. Explore the differences between being close to and far from
the wall and allow this to influence the choices you make.
Practicing improvisation with these tasks pushed me to open my mind and think of a task that I could contribute to the project. There are so many different ways to improvise and settling on one task to submit was challenging. I played around with a few different ideas before settling on the task below:
Slow Motion Ascent or Descent
Moving slowly is extremely difficult and often helps us to recognize
patterns of movement that we may not have been aware of at a faster
pace. Adding the task of ascending from or descending to the ground
adds another layer of difficulty, as it forces us to choose pathways that
allow us to continue moving as slowly as possible.
For this task, take as much time as you possibly can to either ascend
from a supine position to a standing position or descend from a standing
position to the ground. Try not to allow any parts of the body to become
"dead&" or stop moving, but instead see if you can allow the slowness to
be activated in every cell of the body so that your full intention is in
moving slowly in one direction and then the other.
You may find thoughts and feelings arising about your ability to execute
this task "effectively" Allow them to come and go without judgment,
feeling confident that your body will find a way to accomplish the task
and that practice will make the process smoother each time. My
descent below has been sped up for brevity, but the original task took
around five full minutes to complete. Ascending can often take much
longer than that.
I encourage you to use the improvisational practices above in your own
practice, whether you've been dancing for decades or are just beginning
to explore improvisational dance. If you are interested in submitting
your own improvisational dance task to Dancing Cards and their
Collective Dance project, you can do so here.
Get to know the writer Colleen McNeary at her website colleenliberty.com
Graham technique based dancers Megan Curet (US) and Diane Auriol (FR) performed Dancing Cards curated importation piece in the west village in NYC. The performance "Cause and Effect" worked as a metaphor for immigrants living in the US who's lives are intertwined with two cultures, the balancing act in our hearts of loving and living two or more nations.
Megan Curet is featured in one of the Dancing Cards photographed by Vesa Loikas on the island of Suomenlinna in Helsinki Finland. Suomenlinna is a UNESCO heritage site and enjoys thousands of visitors each year. In 2015 Dancing Cards had a grant from the Suomenlinna to organize an event for music and dance in one of the historic buildings Tenaille Von Fersen.
The Suomenlinna collection is sold through Dancing Cards store Starting October 2017.
Choreographers Megan Curet, Heidi Alasuvanto
Dancers Megan Curet, Diane Auriol
Concept/Photos Heidi Alasuvanto
#modern #performer #Finland100 #NYC #dance#experimental #dancingcards
Dancing card various authors