MORNING MOVEMENT PRACTICE
PERMISSION TO DANCE
AKA QUEER TECHNIQUE
WITH SHANNON STEWART
You like conceptual work. Most of your performances require no ability to do codified dance technique. You would rather call yourself a visual artist than a dancer. Or you would rather call yourself a dancer even though you are a writer or filmmaker or visual artist that incorporates movement in your work. You love to dance and don’t know anything about anatomy.
You grew up dancing before it wasn’t cool to dance. You learned phrases to pop songs. Your could remember complex choreography. You believed in the company model and thought one day you would land a job. BUT you hated the gender roles in the dance studio. You had to make hetero images and narratives that you didn’t relate to. You felt isolated because you weren’t rich/white/straight. You started to see dancing as a training ground to reinforce things you would rather tear down. You lost faith in dance. Maybe you stopped. Maybe you started to make work but would never step foot in a dance class because it’s not your practice/it can be cheesy/you don’t feel comfortable/ you think you’re too old or out of shape or that it’s easier to do yoga and go to the gym.
At it’s core, PERMISSION TO DANCE/REAL DANCE CLASS FOR FAKE DANCERS/QUEERNIQUE is just a dance class-- with a warm up, some exercises and even a little bit of choreography. It celebrates the ritual of coming together to be in our bodies learning things. It takes inspiration from queer theory and feminism to make sense of the practices we do or can do. It’s meant to challenge you physically and engage you intellectually, while keeping it light so that you are prepared to face the rest of the day’s work and research. More concretely, PTD classes entail combining fundamental and familiar technical exercises (floor work, standing exercises in center, and phrase work) with other physical practices (improvisation, breath and energy work, etc) that support the development of performance presence, a fuller range of movement, and the ability to fluidly move
through dynamic qualities. I have trained in various contemporary practices in the US, Canada and Europe from ballet to breakdancing to Gaga and Gyrokinesis®.
SHANNON STEWART BIO
Shannon Stewart is a choreographic artist who splits her time between New Orleans and Europe. Her company Screaming Traps explores the intersection of dance practices, embodied identities and social choreographies. For Shannon, the body’s participation in everyday life, social systems, and how we know ourselves is an opportunity for choreographic research. Simultaneously, the practice of dance rituals is a potential for untraining, retraining, making and unmaking.
Shannon has interpreted the work of Joan Jonas, Deborah Hay and performed with tEEth, zoe | juniper, Kathleen Hermesdorf and many others. Shannon has trained, taught, and performed internationally.
Along with years of ballet, yoga, and somatic forms, she has studied gaga, Forsythe improvisation, Skinner Releasing and CounterTechnique intensively. Shannon is certified in four formats of Gyrokinesis® and is a Gyrotonic® Instructor and as a Teaching Artist with Dance for People with Parkinson’s Disease. She has taught in universities, festivals and contemporary dance centers in the United States, Canada and Europe. She has a BA in Urban Design from the University of Washington and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Dance Performance from Tulane University.
AFTERNOON THEMATIC WORKSHOP
WITH Anna Nowicka
In his latest book: “24/7 Late capitalism and the end of sleep”, Jonathan Crary points to sleeping and dreaming being the last resorts of humans independence, spheres that resist capitalism. By the marketed reality they are pronounced obsolete, while they actually allow us to make sense of things, understand what we need, and to re-orientate.
The creative work I propose will specifically focus on the practice of dreaming aware, and on becoming awake to the ongoing dreaming process that is accompanying our conscious existence, allowing this continuous flow of sensations, feelings and images to in-form the body, influence its presence and become the source of actions. We will work on participants’ night dreams, closely observing the way they are composed, using their structure as a kaleidoscopic map for creativity. The aim of the process is to combine intuitive ways of creating with conscious choreographic decisions, and to empower performers to connect with their dreaming as a legible source of knowledge and foundation for creativity. The work will begin with an awareness and sensitivity practice that I name ‘attending’. The aim is to prepare the body to be open for creating from ‘here and now’, for noticing the continuous flow impulses and becoming aware of different possibilities - present in every moment of the process - to create movement. By ‘shifting the eye’ to different places within the body and outside of it, allowing them to in-form the movement, one will learn to remain engaged while performing, and to follow the constantly changing stage situation. This practice will be explored in solo research and through partner/touch work, already introducing the presence of an observer.
During the two weeks we will be collecting night dreams, starting a dialogue with them, and systematically ‘opening’ dream material through the body with the help of tools from “The School of Images”. The school, which was founded in 1982 in New York by Dr Catherine Shainberg, teaches the language of imagination for instantaneous insight and transformation. ‘To open a dream’ means to distinguish basic levels on which the dream simultaneously unfolds: to catch and precise its storyline, and its relations with reality; to discover repeatable patterns; to find a question, which forms its compositional axis and leads to a secret, revealing the way in which a dream can support a shift into a new reality. By immersing into this layering process one receives multidimensional access to the night’s material.
We will learn to apply this procedure to choreographic work, diving into the practice of opening any image, situation and form, responding to it from a place of rested, attentive awareness. We will embody singular images, practice entering them and exiting, developing their specific qualities, states they induce and movement patterns. We will follow the way in which they expand into narrations, using storylines as prompts to move between qualities and find freedom of shape shifting. Working with questions will allow for the introduction of tools of metaphor, condensation and displacement, composing movements in non-linear, associative ways that foster making connections between seemingly irrelevant materials. In the process of ‘dream opening’, a new level of interconnectedness will be revealed. A text of a dream will be shared within a group, expanded through different embodiments, encouraging versatile perspectives on a singular material, and returned to the original dreamer in the form of an experiential, communal event.
The second orientation of the workshop is the practice of ‘shifting perspectives’, so characteristics for the dreams’ construction. While dreaming, a person can experience a specific situation from multiple points of view, constantly changing the perspective of looking. One can take a position of a doer - directly engaged in an action, a witness – closely observing the situation while mediating it to an observer, or the observer themselves – similarly to an audience member obtaining an overview of the whole event, while not being directly involved. With the movement between these three perspectives, we will expand the space between sensing, feeling and taking an action, inviting embodied ways of responding to performative tasks. The practice will be enhanced by an exploration of different ‘ways of seeing’, and questioning how gaze affects bodily presence, movement quality and the meaning of an action. We will explore the notions of looking and being seen, and taking this basic stage condition as a creative tool for expanding a singular event into multilayered experience.
In the “Dreamstates” workshop, I aim at teaching ways in which one can become an expanded, alert and active agent, letting go into the dreaming process as the source supporting creative decisions.
ANNA NOWICKA BIO
Anna Nowicka is a choreographer and performer, MA Psychology graduate at the Warsaw University, Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance, and MA Choreography at the HfS Ernst-Busch/HZT in Berlin. In recent years, expanding on her long-term interest in the work on dreams, imagination and physical actions, she started developing tools to be applied to artistic creation. Her focus lies on questions of imagination, gaze and creativity, and the potential of images to expand the body into a state of constant becoming. Since 2011 Anna's research has been recognized: she was rewarded the DAAD Prize, followed by the choreographic scholarship from the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes and Tanzstipendium from the city of Berlin. Her performance: “fire is raging in your hair” (with Weronika Pelczyńska) won the 100GRAD Festival in HAU, Berlin, and her solo: “the truth is just a plain picture. said bob.” was selected for the Polish Dance Platform, Fringe Festival in Edinburgh and Polish-Israeli Dance Platform in Tel Aviv. Since 2010 her individual choreographic practice is connected with the Art Stations Foundation by Grażyna Kulczyk in Poznań.
Since 2013 Anna is working extensively with Ivona Šijaković, developing a shared practice that bridges dreaming, choreography and theater directing. In 2015 their third piece: “Hers” premiered in Ballhaus Ost in Berlin. Anna’s interest in vision, visuality and the gaze manifests in a long-term collaboration with Aleksandra Osowicz in the field of film and photography. Currently, Anna is doing her PhD at the Polish Film School / Acting Department in Łódź, and is a practitioner at the School of Images of Dr. Catherine Shainberg, expanding her research through intense dream-work with Bonnie Buckner. She divides her life between Berlin and Poland.
Photography: Kuba Wittchen, Sarrah Danziger