My time at the School was a transformative human and artistic journey. The encounters condensed into these three years make us grow much more than the time spent there physically, since we’re exposed to many lives. Two of my most memorable encounters were in the creative research course. There was Linda Rabin in first year and Andrew Harwood in third year. Coupled with the genuine closeness of my cohort, the lessons from this course created havens of humanity in my body. I acquired basic skills in this course, as it bridges movement and the dancer while making essential links with technique classes, somatic approaches, partner work and composition. It was a laboratory of new experiences that revealed discoveries. I was able to explore unchartered territory, feel empowered and witness vulnerability, while making connections with others and the living world.
Although it’s definitely not a therapeutic setting, the course helps you to get to know yourself intimately. With Linda Rabin, I learned about internal receptiveness or how to be present and attentive by connecting with your essential being. Through this moving and introspective process, I encountered many blockages and freedoms. During these moments, my cohort was very supportive and loving. This gave rise to great moments of vulnerability among us. Many felt intense emotions, both laughter and tears. Fortunately, we were going through the same experiences. While we were all developing relationships with our inner selves, we were sharing moments of infinite possibilities through movement, voice, drawing and writing. This allowed for interesting parallels between our personal process and the group’s development.
In first year, the workshops combined several approaches related to somatics, improvisation, breathing and creativity. They included movement analysis, voice exercises, body manipulations and breathing exercises. The goal of all these workshops is to raise our awareness and feelings about what we are experiencing. Sessions often included discussion, thematic workshops, “empty out” relaxation and a long exploration at the end. Through these improvisatory moments, we could move, write and draw. There were also entire sessions devoted to a specific topic, such as a body system, breathing, sight, touch, cycles or the essence of things. I remember several times we were invited to awaken our senses in an attempt to internalize our perceptions of the outside world. We could then re-express them using our personal movement.
While I was taking in a great deal of information to speed up my dance development during training, this stress-free time allowed me to absorb the learning. Concepts were conveyed in a space with freedom, creativity and letting go. I could let the work and all the ideas accumulated during the week melt in order to take a new look at dance practice. It revealed aspects of the profession, such as imagination, that I didn’t always have time to experience in technique classes.
In third year, the sessions focused more on partner work, improvisation and spontaneous composition. We did exercises in pairs and groups in order to apply physical principles and contact dance aspects. We also did extensive, structured improvisations. Andrew proposed a composition structure and procedures to be used, but it was up to us to decide the other choices. This type of work encouraged us to develop greater autonomy and listening skills, as it’s essential to propose clear, physical concepts and to consider the overall impression. It’s a delicate balance between action and listening. Fortunately, Andrew’s spontaneous composition toolkit is full of ideas. When needed, we can draw on certain principles such as accumulation, immobility, etc. This facilitates rapid decision-making during performance. Unlike the first two courses, which were inward looking, the third research course exposes us to the world. It focuses on awareness of an outward perspective. During improvisation exercises, which vary from one to forty minutes, we are often observed by our colleagues or a student audience. This allows us to become familiar with our vulnerability in front of others.
Finally, the creative research courses revived me. In both teachers’ approaches, great attention is given to the present moment and listening to feelings. The concept of an inner and outer dialogue left a strong impression. I learned to receive and reach out to others. Sharing allowed me to understand how to be humble and brave with myself and with the group. Being immersed in the world of these complex and accomplished artists is definitely a stimulating learning environment.
– Philippe Dépelteau, 3rd year EDCM student
/// In the Student Life section, EDCM contemporary dance students put pen to paper: an opportunity to explore different viewpoints and topics related to professional training, the daily life of young artists and life in Montreal. ///
Photo: Maxime Côté | Dancers: Philippe Dépelteau and Lauranne Heulot(foreground), Molly Siboulet-Ryan et Julianne Decerf (background)
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