Well, this past few months teaching dance technique has been my main practice. My concept of technique has expanded so much in the last years, and particularly now. It is not an intelectual pretense. It just is. it just has. I’ve realized how much my body and my mind, the how’s and the why’s of my approach to movement have been shaped by so many different embodied practices, some of them have transform my moving self in much more deeper ways than conventional dance technique/training has, which if I’m honest, during the years where that was all I was doing and I was spending a lot of energy trying to make my body fit into predetermined modes, more often than not derived into a lot of frustration and feelings of inadequacy. The practices and experiences that have really shaped me include yoga, improvisation, contemplative dance, the Feldenkrais Method, meditation, pregnancy and motherhood. Also, even chronic injuries and just getting older.
I stillI love and refer to several aspects of modern dance technique in my teaching, but when I wear them, after a while I find myself getting incredibly bored. Even if its just a medium towards something “greater”, my body no longer enjoys moving in just one plane, in just one front, in just one direction.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to set my body and specially my mind free from all the beliefs that were inflicted upon me during my early training years. Some of these beliefs I’ve found are almost imposible to deconstruct. I’ve accepted that. They are part of my dancing history.
For most of the students though, particularly the younger ones, technique is about doing more, being faster and stronger, pushing yourself, going to your maximum range, succeed and excel. To achieve all of this, they also want to be told exactly how it is, they want to be told exactly what to do; they are eager to reach that unattainable place that in essence is a different place of where they’re at right now. Even though they are already skillful movers. So when I suggest pausing, listening, feeling, sensing, and basically, when I suggest doing less, they look at me like I’m insane. I understand it is a life long process, but if I can just help them enter the dance world with a wider perspective I would feel I have done my job.
I’ve thought a lot, through this immersive pedagogical practice, about what technique and virtuosity mean to me. I’ve come up with a few things, but the best part is that this notion is continuously shifting and changing:
A body that shows up. A body that within its own possibilities is strong, is flexible and can achieve balance. Therefore a mind that is flexible, is strong and can achieve balance (most days). A body that is aware, (of itself, of others, of time, context and place), a body that understands relationship, a body that can establish connections, a body that breathes, a body that breathes, a body that breathes it’s way into presence. A body that knows itself, that investigates itself, a body that challenges preconceived notions. A body that understands it’s operating systems, a body that cultivates curiosity, a body that improvises, a body that explores, that searches, a body that takes risks. A body that asks questions and is at peace with not finding straight answers, a body that makes choices, a body that accepts and honors its own limitations. A body that commits to practice, rigor, devotion and accountability. A body that offers, a body that receives, a body that translates, a body that follows, a body that leads. A body that continuously learns how to take care of itself. A body that acknowledges, a body that messes up, a body that surrenders to the bigger picture. A body that refers, a body that differs. A body that knows when to stop, a body that remembers, a body that forgets. A body that practices holding on and letting go; even of itself. A thinking body. A body that knows is not just a body.
An available, present and fleeting body
If I live more, I expect this list to grow