Archive of ‘Move’ category

Tertiary Dance Week

WORK_1Steph Hutchison in “Work”

Happy Monday Movers!

Just in case you didn’t know, this week is Tertiary Dance Week at Dancehouse. A new better-than-awesome initiative for postgraduates from dance universities around Australia to gather, share and laugh over some good-fun dance work/ideas.

This program is a site for sharing and discussion around the research explored in these tertiary institutions.

There are classes every morning of the week, workshops during the day and performances in the evening.

It’s well worth the information overload, and wonderful that we can bring nationwide explorations into one neat location package.

Have a look here for further details. You’ll find the programme below:

Tertiary Dance WeekDon’t miss out! I’ll see you there

Rachel x

#nowmoveit

I’ve done it! I’ve pledged as part of the new Lorna Jane campaign to get my butt moving and make me a healthier me. Check it out:

nowmoveit

And…

As part of this nifty campaign, I’ve also been into the store to get this:

Active Nation Day braceletGreat, huh?

Lorna Jane has declared September 29th Active Nation Day. It’s an initiative I support fully: I think it’s so important (and exciting!) to promote more movement, more mindfulness and a healthier you.

Physically, mentally, we need to value who we are, understand our individual needs and act with respect toward ourselves. A little bit pinker than a tie around my finger, this bracelet is a lovely reminder, every day, to keep forging ahead with enthusiasm.

Off to the gym tonight…and guess what I’m wearing…?!

If you want to join in the fun, head to this website: Move Nourish Believe Movement

Class with Kerry Nicholls

When: 9th-13th July 2012

Where: Greenwich Dance Academy

The teacher:

Kerry Nicholls has taught and performed extensively for numerous dance companies and institutions throughout Europe and worldwide, and her experience spans a diverse dance practice spectrum.

Regularly teaching for Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, DV8 and New Adventures companies to name a few, she is widely regarded as one of Britain’s leading contemporary technique teachers. k|n|d|c (kerry nicholls dance company) was founded in 1999 as a vehicle to promote her own choreographic research. Since its inception, Kerry has created numerous works for the company as well as receiving independent commissions from institutions, organisations and companies within Europe, China and the USA and has directed various productions at the National Theatre, the Royal Opera house and the Royal Festival Hall.

She was appointed Co-Director of Creative Learning for Wayne McGregor | Random Dance in 2007, in addition to becoming the artistic adviser for the English National Ballet School in 2008. Currently, she is also the external assessor for the Royal Ballet School and choreographic mentor for the Royal Opera House and Youth Dance England.

The class: Kerry’s fast paced class fuses Limon and release based techniques, creating a thorough, athletic and energetic approach. Her work incorporates challenge in co-ordination skills, spacial architectonics and kinetics, with an emphasis on stamina, momentum and musical sensibility.

My verdict: Dancers were lining up, fighting to get into Nicholls’s class. Ijust made it…and I was there half an hour early. When there is this much determination to get in, the expectations of such a class rise exponentially. This was the first time I’ve had the privilege of Nicholls’s class, and it didn’t disappoint.

Full of energy and positive feedback, Nicholls offers a dynamic and engaging class where you don’t stop moving. Directions are given in a clear and precise manner, each person encouraged to fly into the movement with a (certain degree of) abandon. Complex sequences are created using curves, deep plie, lunges and off-balance moments where focus and the relationship between skull and pelvis aide the dynamic moment. There was a short warm up, followed by phrases that built on one another, developing static sequences into locomotive ones.

Nicholls’s energy was infectious and I left this class feeling thoroughly worked – mentally and physically. A really enjoyable class – go if you can!!

(image via Greenwich Dance Academy)

For further reading, click here for a lovely short interview with Nicholls…

Auditioning: We’ve All Got to Do It

Audition experiences are as unique as they are many.

Preparation, though key, is relatively self explanatory. There are many articles out there explaining about what to take in your bag, to arrive early and be informed about the company, place, time and attire. For me, this is not the real issue.

No, the real magic begins when you walk through the door to the studio, connecting with yourself, and projecting who you are outward. There’s a skill to that, it takes time, and perhaps may never be mastered. According to this article, “at best, auditions are a flawed process”, and it’s true. Auditioning 400+ dancers a day, 40 at a time, for half hour is not an optimal situation… still, we must make the best of it, because it’s all we’ve got. Auditions give us valuable information about ourselves, and this is not dependent upon our success in the audition itself.

I learned a long time ago that it’s useless comparing yourself to others. In a class context, you can learn a lot by observing a peer, but when it comes to an audition room, I find it can psyche you out. From entering you are setting yourself on a trajectory or your own making, there’s no use in letting someone spin you off course.

The Warm Up

From my experience, there seems to be four different approaches to warming up for an audition: the strong, the bendy, the energetic and (my personal favourite) the progressive.

The Strong – those who use strengthening exercises to connect to their centre, or to increase their sensation of muscular activation. You’ll see these dancers performing sit-ups and leg raises.

The Bendy – the girls (and the occasional boy) launch into stretches yogi’s would be proud of. Virtual gymnasts at heart, these people seem to love the feel of their muscles being lengthened out – almost the opposite to the “strong” type.

The Energetic – few and far between, these dancers love to get their heart rate going, their energy level high and you’ll often see them running around the room or throwing themselves to the floor.

The Progressive – I’m unsure whether my preference for this style stems from my personality or my training. At one time or other, I think I’ve found myself trying all of the above tactics, but the “progressive” seems to be the one that grounds me the most. I would define it as the gradual build through the body, more focused on articulation and connection than through flexibility and strength, beginning at the feet and finishing at the top of the spine (head).

I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to warm up. My advice would be to work to your strengths and balance out your weaknesses. For me, my tendency is to be light on my feet when I’m nervous, neglecting my plié and often loosing my balance. Maybe that’s why the progressive approach works for me; it begins by warming up and massaging the feet, developing the connection with the floor through muscle release and sense stimulation. It keeps me grounded and on balance.

The Exercises

Expect Anything. My best advice. You may be learning phrases, you may be improvising (as a group, or by yourself). Sometimes you may be asked to even act, or speak.

Embrace the tasks. Focus on the central motivations of the company’s movement – the teacher will usually tell you, or give you an indication of this, i.e. Hofesh Shechter’s company focuses on the idea of a contained body; Quicksilver on a lively and energetic one.

Expect the unexpected and trust yourself. I was once asked to improvise movement and simultaneously speak the important aspects of my CV, focusing on my personality rather than my credentials. It was one of the most confronting and exciting tasks I’ve been asked to do – and certainly unpredictable.

The Aftermath

It’s always an emotional roller-coaster, one way or the other. For me anyway. All that bottled up tension, nerves…it must be some sort of emotional combustion when it comes into contact with lactic acid. If you can, take it easy, stretch, do whatever it is you need to do to refocus. For me, today, it seems to be 1) wander the city (see photo – my little discovered oasis!), 2) blog, and 3) eat cupcakes… (and it seems I’ll always be the type to choose salted caramel over vanilla any day). – What does that say about my personality?

What sort of auditions have you attended? Do you have a particular warm up style? Any tips you know to make this process easier?

Class with Laura Harvey

When: every Thursday with Quicksilver

Where: Rambert Dance Studios

The teacher: Laura graduated from Chester University with a BA Honours in Dance and Arts and Cultural Management and the following year completed an MA in European Dance Theatre Practice at the Laban Centre.

Laura joined Rambert Dance Company in 2005 as the Education Administrator and was project manager for Rambert from April 2006 -September 2008. She has worked as an animateur for Rambert Dance Company since 2006 delivering educational workshops across the country and teaching on their community class programme for young dancers. She runs the Rambert Youth Company, Quicksilver and has choreographed work on them for the opening of the Eurostar from St Pancras International, Big Dance and Leap into Dance at the Royal Ballet School. She has worked as a performance director for a project engaging 170 young dancers and musicians at Ripon Cathedral and most recently produced a site specific performance at the British Film Institute working with 150 young performers from Lambeth.

Laura currently works as the Touring Dance Officer (National and International) for English National Ballet delivering repertoire based workshops around the country. Alongside this role, Laura is undertaking a project entitled Swanning Around, acting as Artistic Director working with schools in the U.K to produce a performance at The Royal Albert Hall and teaching in China to produce a performance for Shanghai Expo 2010.

Working on a freelance basis for the past eight years, Laura has taught for companies such as Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, George Piper Dances, Richard Alston Dance Company and Sadlers Wells Theatre. Laura continues to work nationwide as a choreographer, teacher and performer (Iratik Dance Theatre) and is continually developing her own dance in education company, HarveyCo Dance.

The class/My verdict: I take Laura’s class each week as part of Quicksilver’s training. Though this means I know her style very well by now, I wanted to give her a special mention for last night. I’ve enjoyed Laura’s style since I was first witness to it at the Quicksilver auditions, back when I first moved to London. She has a very free-flowing style about her, but her movements are also very quick and powerful, surging through her petite frame.

Something I really appreciate about Laura’s classes, that I wish to keep in mind for my own classes, is that she is great at creating a varied class. There are elements that are repeated each week for improvement sake, but the structure and focus of the class changes week to week, depending on her mood, and that of the dancers.

Last night, we did nearly an hour of cardio work (and I think it nearly winded us all…). I’ve upped my cardio training anyway, trying to prepare for my visit back to Australia (and the unfortunate situation of a bikini body coming out a London winter…hmmm), and having this class was a really energy booster I appreciated. Dancers are quick to forget cardio – we’re much stronger on the anaerobic front, meaning if we stop and start activity constantly, we can usually go all day. Aerobically however, many of us are sorely lacking. It’s not for want of trying, but cardio has never been my forte.

After keeping the heart rate up for so long, Laura moved us into more traveling and repetition of a phrase. After so many rehearsal for Prokofiev, it feels amazing to move without restraint again, taking class to popular music and laughing with exhaustion. It can take time to get your body to move quickly again, but I’m recalling the commands it responds best to. I’m finding my relationship with the floor again – the fundamental relationship that has improved my dance technique tremendously over the years. That, and moving into and out of your core – simple images that have allowed me a greater capacity for dynamics and strength (flexibility requires a different focus, but that’s for another time…).

Thanks for a great class Laura!