river work

river work

As a technique, it develops the understanding that “all the information is in the body.”

Raina von Waldenburg

Raina von Waldenburg (Center for Embodied Performance) trained in the river work pioneered by Jerzy Grotowski. Info  on Raina’s May 24, 25 Vancouver Workshop  at Studio 45 West appears at the end of this post.
Susan:   I wonder about the distinctions between acting and dance  in using river work for research and training.

Jennifer:  River work  is performance and improvisational training, not a muscular skeletal training, not part of technique class.

Training in performance involves learning to recognize impulses.  By not recognizing the impulse, you leave the audience confused or bereft – they are not satisfied, they fall asleep, they are denied that which they crave.   So you learn to recognize and partner impulses.

Susan      RAINA von Waldenburg (Centre for Embodied Performance)  is teaching a workshop here in Vancouver this weekend.   She trained in the  Grotowski  river work and  describes it as

a series of improvised river-like movements that connect the actor to his/her body as a continuum of organic gesture, and elicit from the actor extended aliveness and a deep sense of truth.  As a technique, it develops the understanding that “all the information is in the body”. 

Jennifer     In some respects dance and acting diverge, but it’s the same principle –  that all the information you need is harboured in the body.     The river is the living of the life of an impulse, from it not being there, to its arrival, to where it takes you, to the demise of the impulse and the absence, until it comes again.  The cycle of it.

Linda (Putnam)  taught us plastiques.  Done as mechanical exercises, at some point they cease to be mechanical.   The dancer is overtaken by an image or impulse, and follows it, living it.

The actual training is first to recognize the nature of the impulse. Is it  a movement impulse or the world of an image?  And we learn to discern the difference between image and trance.  When is there impulse? Did you see it?   When did it cease?  How do you recognize when it is gone, and how do you  pick up again?


Workshop with Raina Von Waldenburg:

Participants will be exposed to “River Work” based on the physical acting training of Jerzy Grotowski and engage in presence work that releases creative and emotional energy. In this dynamic ensemble-based workshop participants learn to tap into physical impulses that are organic and surprisingly truthful.
Performers of all genres and levels are welcome.
45 West Hastings

May 24 (1- 5)
May 25 (2 – 6)
Sliding Scale:
$30 – $50 for one workshop
$50 – $80 for both
RAINA VON WALDENBURG has recently moved to Vancouver after having been full-time faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she taught a physical approach to acting based on the work of Jerzy Grotowski at the Experimental Theatre Wing for the past 17 years. Raïna received her MFA in creative writing from Goddard College, and her BFA in acting from New York University where she trained under Stephen Wangh and Ryszard Cieslak, Jerzy Grotowski’s principal actor and protégée. Raïna served as research assistant and editor for Stephen Wangh’s book An Acrobat of the Heart: A physical approach to acting based on the work of Jerzy Grotowski, published by Vintage Press.
In 2000 Raïna founded the Center for Embodied Performance, and has taught workshops in the U.S., Europe, and Southeast Asia.Raïna has been an actor in NYC for the past 15 years. She recently produced her one-woman show Oysters Orgasms Obituaries at La MaMa E.T.C., and has worked closely with director Zishan Ugurlu as principal actor in other productions at La MaMa E.T.C., including TheFather, Request Programme, and The Last Supper, as well as Enescu and Youth (WFMT Live Radio Network/Romanian Culture Institute).  She is also a published poet, visual artist and mother.