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!



  1. ‘…the ability to learn something new is based on the general state of mind of a human being… (in which) there is an undivided and total interest in what one is doing… Only this kind of wholehearted interest will give the mind the energy needed to see what is new and different…’

    Helen thanks for this article. The above quote from it really resonated with me as a student recently voiced that he felt he had been cruising through his ballet classes for about 6 months, and it was not until we were working in a different way – in fact taking jumps apart to improve height and so on – that he realised that he could actually enjoy ballet class and feel he could meet the challenge. I realise that working differently (i.e. outside of the normal structure of a ballet class) may not work for everyone, but I was aware that for some of my students ballet is a technique that is so far out of their physical comfort zone (for example the student in question is not turned out, or in possession of great flexibility; he is however a great commercial dancer and emerging choreographer) that they cannot always commit to it with determination and focus as they cannot see a potential positive outcome for themselves within the subject. When this student suddenly jumped higher than he ever had before I could see that he was pleased and felt that he had achieved something.

    The food for thought for me in all this is that I must do my utmost to give the students a real interest in my classes – something tangible that they can relate to. I do show them wonderful images of amazing classical dancers, but I realise too that the students are on the whole disconnected from the images and gasp in admiration of them rather than aiming to be like them, as, realistically, they never will. I try to relate the work we do in my classes to all other dance subjects so they have a tool kit for everything they dance and on reflection I think this may be the best stance. My students are always very attentive and interactive in my classes, but I also know that some of them despair at their poor ability in pointe work. I try and encourage them to persevere, reassuring them that they will get stronger all over if they develop their pointe work skills, and that it is not about the feet so much as about everything technical they can imagine. But the notion of the student having to be totally interested in what they are doing in order to see anew is a strong one, and something of a cautionary tale. It is up to me to provide stimulating and helpful advice, feedback, information – call it what you will – and up to the student to try and relate to what I put forward. It is also up to me to make sure that my classes are not just a treadmill on which the student has to step on a regular basis…. it should be more of an adventure, a journey that moves them forward rather than the same steps over and over again. It is all too easy to get set into teaching habits, just as the students have their technical habits and it is better for all to break them and try to approach the work from different standpoints. Maybe this is why I chose to study!

  2. Absolutely Janet..I agree learning (for all) ought to be an adventure, a journey of discovery (of self and other) and that as teachers/educators we have a responsibility to facilitate and guide this journey, acknowledging too that students have an active role to play too in igniting and shaping their journey with us..
    Gill Clarke was one of the first artists I had the honour of working with in the studio and learning huge amounts from as an undergraduate dance student, and who's writing and reflections on creativity and learning always inspire me..
    Look forward to catching up more on Thursday : )

  3. Thanks for reminding me of this Helen. I have read this article before and know I am in the midst of reflecting on my own practice it makes perfect sense to me. Gill played a very important role in the setting up of the Dance4 CAT programme and everyday I try to remember and value her words of wisdom. As I sit planning and deliberating activity for the programme I often find myself thinking....what would Gill think?