IDOCs » why compromise. mind the dance. CHAPTER 1
A personal way of documentation in several chapters by Márta Ladjánszki (H) Proofreading by Zsolt Varga Connected to: not about thing: what am I/we/it doing? by Shannon Stewart (US)
2017.11.06

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why compromise. mind the dance. – 2017
5th IDOCDE Symposium on Contemporary Dance Education
A personal way of documentation in several chapters by Márta Ladjánszki (H)
Proofreading by Zsolt Varga

CHAPTER 1
As I got to know that I could be one of the official “IDOCDEista” this year I made a research on the web-site and read about the members’ notes, added informations. Romain Bige’s words were echoing in my head:
“(1) There's no wrong way of listening. Sitting, looking at my face or at the screen is good, but lying on the floor, moving, stretching are also very good way to attend to yourself as well as to what I am saying.
(2) At any moment, you may leave the conversation if you feel uncomfortable. Hopefully, you won't, but this “lecture” format is strongly authoritative, and I want to make sure that I am not taking any prisoners.” (Romain Bige’s lecture; "The Artist's Privilege to Displace the Borders Between What Should be Noticed and What Should Not" that took place as the closing lecture of the 4th IDOCDE Symposium. http://www.idocde.net/idocs/1624)
This was exactly what I remembered the most from the first symposium and what I got as a deep experience also now. This free way of listening and participating made the symposium unique (could be also weird – on a good way – for a newcomer) :-)

I arrived to Vienna’s Arsenal in the morning after a 2,5 hours long car trip. I was hungry so I missed the Food for the Day as I had to have my breakfast, so that became a real food for my day:-)
The venue seemed to be a great hosting venue for such a symposium as it was in one block, but separated and there was space enough for the sometimes huge group of people/participants. I immediately met lots of unknown but also a lot of familiar faces. I knew the venue as well, which gave me selfconfidence to move in and out of the studios and between the participants.
Although I just arrived I felt I was energized by the fact to be there – again. I visited the first idocde symposium as well and before I was also part of the HU team of dance teachers at Stolzenhagen. Adding to that I took trips to ImPulsTanz to take classes as a  regular participant and as a danceWebber earlier, so I felt myself a bit home…
I was eager to witness, to learn, to find new forms in the different or similar teaching practices.

I felt ready to be part of the “online and offline network of contemporary dance teachers to make their work visible and to create a shared legacy”.

This time I chose to type directly into my computer (saving time and as I was typing fast even without watching the monitor, I could witness and write at the same time). My fingers were “dancing” on the keyboard (like in one of my first video documentations I uploaded onto idocde web-site).

not about thing: what am I/we/it doing? by Shannon Stewart (US)
As a first action I was entering the space of Shannon who prepared some electronic music (with deep tone and instruments) as a welcoming for the participants. In the studio there were around 10-15 people (some of them still having their last pieces of breakfast). The studio with white dance floor was closed – without natural light. (I was wondering how long I could keep my attention focused in such a studio as I stayed here for almost the whole day.)

BEGINNING

Shannon asked her partners in work (I tend not to use students as here all participants were active dance teachers who were having the chance for sharing) to come to a circle (a very well-used form for the somatic works and sharing processes) and introduced her work shortly.
Some key words of Shannon: “physical – open – also welcome to sit on the outside and come back – exercises that are part of my practice – little lecture – talk about how these were working = theory class and a performance as well!”
Then a NAME CIRCLE took place (which is also a usual way for a new group to start with). Although Shannon gave the chance to ask as well, it seemed the partners were more excited to start working so Shannon offered a somatic way of WARM UP with EYES CLOSED. She used a direct hiphop like music to inspire the participants who were slowly rocking themselves into the movement, a way of their dance. “Say yes, as much as it is possible” and “use your gestures” – were the focus points of Shannon.
Luckily the venue gave enough space for each mover to discover their own way of expressions and Shannon inspired them for a free dance while she was also participating and moving mostly in the middle of the space. Possibly she wanted to be close to the participants to let herself heard while the music was changed to a more disco-feeling.

[But what are the lyrics in the music and why did she choose such a rythmical one?]

As next (still in the movement) she introduced a Deborah Hay exercise which is based on detachment and dis-attachment. “The practice of dis-attachment. Deborah Hay differentiates dis-attachment from detachment.  It’s not that you need to disregard or disconnect what is going on or what is around you, just don’t get stuck on it.”
Oleg grabbed a paper roll of the dance floor and Detti played hopscotch by using the occasionally “painted” (black lines on the white) floor. In general the participants were playing with the possibilities but some of them seemed to wait for a more direct instruction, maybe less philosophical and/or more simple guide. As the music was pretty loud it was hard to hear Shannon’s speech. It looked like the participants were existing with different intensity, some moved and danced freely, even smiled.

[I started to pay attention on some of them who seemed to focus deeply into an action they were involved in and because of this I started witnessing how their attention turned more inside, sometimes even watching themselves while moving – in these cases a special way of paying attention appeared which just by watching them gave me as a viewer the vision to feel their deep concentration (of course the eyes were slowly opening up).]

Oleg was walking on the edge of the space, just found a lila plastic ball to witness it for a while. As the second music stopped the movers also stopped their “trip” although Shannon tried to keep them in movement. I guess the energy level just felt down. It was a kind of long exercise which still continued (new music came, some electronic one again and some distorted singing).

[What can be the reason of using such a long section for jumping, shaking, moving? Was it Shannon’s purpose to make the participants tired, to get them into another quality? How much did the three kind of musics changed the natural movement, the composition and the acceptation?]

During the last track Shannon asked the participants to get closer, into the corner where they were “disco-dancing” until the end of the music. In general I witnessed less floor work but most of the cases swinging arms, bouncing with different intensities. As she stopped the last music, we could hear Shannon’s instructions more clearly and the participants’ breathing and drumming.

[What is the function of the music? Is it a kind of doping? How can one keep the intensity even without the music? How does the attention change in the case of instrumental or music based on vocals?]

“Find your conversation” – said Shannon and while still moving she split the group into two and described the next step as there were people who stayed in dancing and others who left the space. This last group could witness the space itself beside their dancing partners – “Just observe your person”.
“I want you to focus on perceptions – how your eyes see and look…”
There was no must on watching the dances but the space and the connections/orientations in it. Shannon was in the first group and she seemed to put lots of energy to inspire her partners with/through her dance as well. After a longer period danced by the first group the people on the outside could join their partners and the two groups spent appr. 5’ together. In this a new instruction appeared: “Pick up the deeper habits of the person you maybe don’t know”. After leaving the second group to continue dancing, Shannon seemed to calm down and her attention became more clear – as she was not moving around. It seemed that she gave a bit less time for the second group and asked the first group to take over. (The instruction was a bit confusing for the partners, who should dance and what exactly, but the experienced partners followed Shannon quickly.)

[Can we say that the attention to be watched/witnessed and to witness the other creates a new way of performativity and perspective of watching? Who are we dancing for and who are we watching?]

I felt that the selfish movement research disappeared.

The above mentioned exercise (which seemed to be a warming up but took 45’ long) ended with a last duet (the couples who were witnessing each others’ dances). They started to take inspiration from the partners’ movement and Shannon asked them to reduce the intensities to 50% (which meant a radical slowing down) and slowly the moving around died, the group intensity calmed down by watching each other. This was the moment I realized clearly that 5 couples and 1 trio was working all way long.

After a short break Shannon offered the exercise called SOLO REPLAY where someone did a solo, we watched, took the seed of whatever just happened with the one + whoever decided just went in and worked with it. The original soloist called end. Shannon proposed to finish with a kind of picture, not to run out from the space.
We were waiting not too long for this first self selected soloist. A male participant with glasses walked straight into/through the space, slipped on the floor which gave him a fast way of leaving the dance floor and decided to finish the action (with a statement of sitting on the plastic ball facing the other side of the space where the “audience” was watching him).
The next soloist was Oleg. He chose the space and the witnessing of space-person as a main focus of his solo. He seemed to be in one spot, moved his arms up and down, working in silence and created dance. Each of us had to pay attention to him, on a way he became a container of our attention. The reaction/echo of his solo was also very clear, five dancers immediately (without any hesitation) took the floor and recreated his solo in a group version. Oleg gave them clear rules to play with and they enjoyed playing. Oleg called “hold” and then “end”.
As the third soloist Detti entered the space by drawing a clear diagonal in the space with a waggled way of walking. From the very first moment I imagined her need to dance, to perform something which was underlined by her composed way of looking at us. As she left the space people just hardly took the “stage” to echo her solo. First Shannon entered, than a man, no more witness became replay-dancers.

[What made such a difference to enter and replay? In Oleg’s case the need of entering was very clear and more people joined, now it were less emerging needs to give an echo.]

The fourth soloist, a blond girl (after a short walk) decided to use spinning as a movement and with this she floated into the space after a half circle. She stopped and accompanied with some micro-movements and sound she fell down on the floor. Her last clear action was a long crawling out from the space. I witnessed a certain calm attention inside of her as she – with her profile to us – exited. The re-players (again more) decided to enter immediately, four women and a man (Oleg) were moving as a group. Oleg was standing in one spot and combed his hair, while whimpering softly. The four female dancers were dancing around him and echoing some movements of the soloist. It was just a nice way of witnessing the similarities in their movements – which was obvious as all of them were using the soloist’s movement vocabulary.

Shannon made some conclusion instead of an open sharing experience. I felt it gave less chance to share and involve the participants as professionals in this.

Surprisingly Shannon offered a SECOND BEGINNING and she asked the participants to stand in a circle and to hold hands. They were standing with closed eyes again as a way of “arrival” and they took few steps in, later few steps away. “Keep the connection, maximum extension and take a moment here to feel little suspension”. The circle stretched out softly into a kind of holding-each-other-moment. As they got back to their balance they lost hold of hands and just stood in the circle. Shannon was talking about inspiration and quoted Jonathan Burrows: “What we need in dance is not necessarily what we want to see in dance”. And with a kind of melting down she was leading the participants to lie down on the floor (which took some moments as not everyone seemed to want to go down on the floor).
Shannon asked the partners to stay on the floor (most of them with closed eyes) and while they were lying she unfolded a piece of paper with her personal thoughts and read it aloud.
“(…) What about that?
What about being far away?
What about being too close?
And who listens
or sees
or knows what it is doing?“
(The text was adapted by her to this symposium.)

ENDING
The class ended with this philosophical text and in the last 10’ she opened the circle for questions.
– “Body based theory practice = feminist-gender-queer-somatic practices = encounter knowledge”
– “Teaching is always sharing your work.” = reading theory and making practice
– New Orleans is where she is based but travels a lot to teach at universities.
– gender and sociology studies beside dance
– TUNING SCORES (Lisa Nelson) = editing live in time and space, need of the composition (being out and in)

The time has come to leave the space, stepping out from the circle and continue somewhere else…

(… to be continued :-) )


Attachments:
IDOCDE 5th Becs2017 3 ShannonStewart USA k
IDOCDE 5th Becs2017 5 ShannonStewart USA k
IDOCDE 5th Becs2017 10 ShannonStewart USA k
IDOCDE 5th Becs2017 9 ShannonStewart USA k
 
 
 

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