New York City stroll with French dancer Diane Auriol

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.

Heidi Alasuvanto

iane 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...