What’s on our minds about training right now?

What’s on our minds about training right now?

There should be some foundation underneath the dancing.

Justine Chambers: What is in my mind right now about training? What is in our mind to prepare for a dance? How do we prepare our bodies for a given choreography outside the mechanics of our body?

The day we worked on the voice for White Spider and the xiphoid process and that sort of hands on work made me understand the choreography. Alternatively I took a class with Matija Ferlin and I had so much fun but I went to a rehearsal afterwards and I couldn’t dance; it didn’t get me into the place to enter emotionally or physically into the choreography

Jennifer Mascall: I have two responses— I totally know in my own dances that I have to work personally and individually with dancers as well as generally for them to understand what I’m talking about, but the project nature of our company doesn’t allow to pay dancers to train so I often feel like an empty talker because I say these words and I know the dancers aren’t there but we can’t afford to get them there. So I’m trying to change this by starting to train people or make openings for dancers who are interested in the same ideas that I am to learn together but it’s an emotionally wrenching this for me

JC: This makes me think, if there is not warm up time when I take classes and I don’t expect them to pay for it, I guess I wonder if it’s not unethical to train them in the work we are supposed to do. If you think like [Marshall] McLuhanthe medium is the message— if we don’t have the tools to give the message, is it purely representational that we don’t have to know the how to get it across? As a dancer I want those skills—I want the ability to embody—if I can’t then I am delivering myself as an object not inside the vision.

JWM: I feel like there can be away to do the form and that will lead both the dancer & the audience in. I also feel that not all work is about embodiment. I think the emotional wrench I feel is that I agree it is unethical to say one thing and not be doing it and I now feel that it is unethical to make a piece without the dancers living what I believe in also; however, the dancers have to be then committed to the long haul.

JC: I agree that not all work is about embodiment but how do you prepare the mind? I feel that the choreographer in my ideal world would talk about the work in a democratic way so there would be an opportunity for discussion and share the lens for me to ask as a dancer what are the themes so that we together can prepare concepts.

There should be some foundation underneath the dancing.

JWM: I have often wanted this too. I think it is about setting a situation where the dancers would be able to feel comfortable even if they didn’t understand. In studying the experiential work the room becomes a research lab and every one‘s research has a place because it could be their insight that changes everything.

JC: This is about agency, that dancers feel they don’t have agency to speak, to have opinions, to contradict; that a discussion with differing opinions is not a conflict is not antagonistic.  It’s looking at all the facets of a jewel—maybe this is why we get on.

JWM: I think the training for agency begun in the postmodern world through the Judson and contact improvisation training where there are circles for dance artists to begin to express how they feel. From there the basis for critical discourse can begin. I remember when Steve and Lisa came to EDAM they sat and had conversations to understand more things about dancing, and they talked in a way I had never heard anyone before or since. It was as though they lived the importance of knowing that their understanding could actually help the field.

It’s about history. If you managed to grow up in dance and bypass the postmodern world and the gifts it gave the form, and you’re running a dance school now, the students that you are training won’t have those ideas: the beginning of agency, expressing who you are and critical discourse – because you won’t have studied the conceptual work that it was based on. Now that the postmodern revolution is almost gone and we are into a synthetic age, where people are gathering ideas, it’s possible that it might not come unless there is some kind of new training or new feeling of necessity for empowering yourself to be able to have an opinion. You don’t have to have an opinion out of defiance, you should have one out of wisdom.

JC: You want to have an opinion no? Dance needs to have our opinions because we care about dance and how it’s shaped and how it’s forming.

JWM: Dance needs to be fed our beliefs and our understanding. We feed it through our dancing and our pieces. Pieces are often inspired from the individuals that are in the piece, they shape the piece, and when that happens the piece becomes intermingled with that dancers physical understanding. In an ideal world their understanding corresponds to the ideas the choreographer is working on. The ethics are: when is the piece separate from the dancers it is with. I think for us to develop our craft the dance has to wean itself from the original voices and become a treatise in and of itself.

As a choreographer, the work begins with the physical/verbal conversations I have with the collaborators. I can’t see the work at the onset; I have to trust the collaborators and that they are giving into it. It’s like a handful of chefs in a kitchen with no recipe making a meal, the number of courses, the ingredients are all fixed but not much else.  (Why remounts are amazing, because the chefs step back and see what it could be – as a language separate from people – a language of ideas)

When forming the expression of the ideas I never know how exactly the articulation will be understood. It takes the repetition of the dance for the creator to see. In the moment of making I am too busy collaborating (in the soup) to really see the work. I love remounts – they are test of expression and communication.

Continue this discussion at Way Out West, our summer intensive.