Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Sharing an article I have just been re-reading, from Gill Clarke (former Siobhan Davies Dance Company founder member, Independent Dance Artist, performer, teacher, educator and advocate for dance who sadly passed away in 2011).  Lots in there that I think would be useful for you to consider in reference to the development of 'self', understanding, acceptance, appreciation of yourselves within your learning, and some good practical references to themes of embodiment, dualism, dance/science.


keep warm..enjoy your week!


Friday, 15 March 2013

Teaching Dance...

Just some thoughts to share with you (via CandoCo Dance Company) as you look at how you approach and develop your teaching practice...


DSC_1432'One of the questions I have always had about teaching ‘inclusive’ dance is how different it is from just teaching dance. What I keep asking myself is: Have I ever met anyone who is exactly like me? Anyone with exactly the same big toe as mine? Or with the same nose?
The answer is NO and this is the starting point of my teaching no matter who the ‘students’ are.
I think that a traditional approach to dance has tricked us to believe that everyone must move in the same way and, if they do not, then the dance is read as unsuccessful. The illusion of perfection has confused us and forced us to fight against our own bodies – underlining what is not there rather than exploring what could be there.  In the last century, thanks to some brave artists, the dance world has opened up to a different approach to movement: enquiring bodies and minds have led many artists to look beyond old and – in my opinion – limiting traditions. Many what ‘ifs’ have been posed since the beginning of the 20th Century and many more what ‘ifs’ need to be asked to allow dance to be more accessible at a professional level.
What if we start considering that not ONE human being is the same as any other?  We are unique in the physical, mental, emotional puzzle that makes each of us one of the many creatures who inhabit planet earth. Not one vertebra is built as any other one.
Teaching inclusive/integrative dance is nothing more than acknowledging this fact. Diversity is the base of humanity, perfection does not exist and dance has the potential to celebrate the possibility of coexisting without merging. When I teach I hope to stimulate each individual’s curiosity for their own physicality: what is one’s relation to gravity, how joints fold and unfold, how we create flow in our own body and how we feel as part of a group.
In the Teaching Training Intensive organised by Candoco in November 2012 one of the things that seemed very important to share with the participants was that there is no formula that one should follow in order to then declare: I am teaching an integrated dance class. What is essential is the HOW not the WHAT. How language is used, how intention behind actions is communicated, how clarity and virtuosity can be embraced by everyone. We experienced that even ballet can be taught to anyone who is INTERESTED in finding personal solutions or so called adaptations. The secret ingredient of inclusive practice is an insatiable curiosity for movement. A valuable skill for anyone who is interested in dance is to have the capacity to try, fail, try again, succeed then try again: this is human and goes beyond abilities.
Curiosity first and then a good dose of open-mindedness.
candoco lab 415Few days ago, during my lunch break I spent some time outside the studio with Vicky. We were talking about a task that she then taught in her class at Greenwich Dance Agency. It is the ‘this is enough’ game. It is done with a partner: one person lies down to receive touch, the other offers touch. The latter places a hand somewhere on the other person’s body and slowly applies an increasing amount of weight/pressure. The person receiving the touch can say at any point ‘this is enough’. It is a brilliant exercise that can break presumptions of what we think a person is able or willing to take at any point.  What can be visually perceived as a frail hand might take much more weight than one can imagine, a strong thigh may take much less than one would expect.
Each person’s potentials and limits in relation to their physicality are unknown to each other. We don’t know, so we need to ask, try, share, experience, be with, in order to find out. A first look might often create misconceived ideas about what is possible and what is not. And the beauty of dancing everyday is that each single day is different… a good lesson I am learning since I joined Candoco. Break preconceived ideas about oneself first and then open one’s mind towards others.
So the invitation when speaking about inclusive practice in dance is to have the curiosity to find out about the amazing potential of the human body and the infinite possibilities that dance can lead us towards.
So keep curious, keep trying, keep finding out, keep dancing!'
Susanna Recchia is a dancer with Candoco

I look forward to more on your blogs and linked-in this week, Module Ones, let's talk on your first AOL drafts this week..

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Plans and Drafts...

The before bit.
Before you jump head first into your research (module twos) or the writing of Areas of Learning (module ones) take a look at what you're proposing to do.  Gain an understanding from your handbooks, conversations with your advisor, as to the context of what is expected of your actions in relation to the MAPP programme, and try out what's in your mind.  For module two, that does mean quite literally 'try it out'!  Create a pilot study of your planned research, an area of it.  A pilot study on a smaller scale than your intended research inquiry will allow you to navigate your way on a trial run, identify potential areas of concern, flag up some unexpected surprises which you won't have been able to see before putting thought into action.  Pilot Studies are a learning tool, a way of testing the water, but only if you then take the time to learn from (through reflection and further research) what they have shown.  To be particularly alert to, and this pertaining also to the linked-in discussions this week, is ethical considerations.  As some of you are working with young people, or intending to use young people within your research inquiry, you must consider the ethical implications of your proposed research on those involved.  Please do use the Ethics Form under your Module page on LibGuides, and of course ask your advisor if there is anything you are unclear about with regards to this.
Module One asks you to identify your possible Area of Learning titles and to draft your first one this week.  Begin to put in writing what that area or your learning is to you.  How do you define this area? How does it define you/your practice? What does it entail? Which hat(s) does it require you to wear? Who does it affect?  Drafts...Put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and begin to play with the words which may enable you to communicate to others an area of your learning.  Email your draft to your advisor, arrange a skype call, so that you can discuss this draft, we can offer feedback in order for you to re-draft, and in so doing broaden/deepen your thoughts and your demonstration of them in writing.

So, I'll leave you to plan, to discuss...to draft, to discuss... to continue with your journeys for the week...


Saturday, 2 March 2013


From blogs and emails with you this week, I am pleased to see I am not alone in having had a rather busy (with the word busy seeming a complete understatement!) week.  But I am pleased to see that the busy has been coupled with reflection on your journeys also.  

I am quite pre-occupied with notions of time, how we manage it on a day to day basis, what it is philosophically, scientifically, in reality, if it is actually anything more than an opportunity for things to happen?  If the latter is the case, I wonder how some periods of time (days, weeks..) seem to offer no opportunities for anything to happen as so much is happening, or is it just that we find ourselves with little time to absorb and reflect on what has happened as we are so busy making things happen?

WE are responsible, I believe, for shaping what we do, the opportunities we allow to arise, those we take and develop, those we choose not to follow.  WE have the ability to affect the world around us and to shape it by our actions, not knowing precisely what effect our actions will have in the future as we can never be in tomorrow today, but having ownership over our actions in the present.  Actively interacting with each day, with the opportunities that time affords, with the people we share that time with I believe is vital in continuing to grow and to learn.  Being open to what each day may bring, to what the class we're with offer in/of themselves, learning from what they are offering how we may best respond in guiding, challenging and supporting them in their learning, and in turn what this time has offered us in terms of opportunities (in reflection) is a key tool to learning and understanding learning and knowledge.

Notions of who we are (module one) and how we interact with the world around us (module two) resulting in what affect our actions/interactions may have on others (module three) is in essence what the MAPP programme is interested in.  Whilst our point of reference is dance, and specifically the teaching of/pedagogical practice of dance, we are only really able to identify and attribute value to impact/interaction/affects by understanding our place within them.

Where do YOU stand within all of this?  Have you been shaped/shaped yourself and your practice through training and experiencing dance as dance alone or through your experiences of you in a far broader picture?