DanceLab-ing and Digesting

This past week, I’ve been hauling myself up through traffic and public transit to San Francisco for FACT/SF’s DanceLab workshop. It felt great to be back dancing all day, working in a playful and experimental environment, and feeling like I was part of a dance community, something I’ve been missing lately. I also got my mind and body blown working with new techniques, material, and ideas, which I definitely need to take back into the studio with me to really digest.

A few big takeaways in terms of approach that might be worth sharing:

I wrote this bit in my journal after an afternoon working with the basics of Forsythe Improvisation Technologies. The framework is based on manipulating points and lines in space–stuff which make sense in theory but also can make your head explode when you start putting them in your body and realizing how much there is to keep track of:

I think what’s so hard/great/valuable/frustrating about improv is that you have to constantly make the translation between thought and action, theory and practice. Managing the awkward gap between the two is a challenge in a lot of areas (dance technique, academia, my life in general) but I think improv is unique in how much it forces me to make that connection in real time.

I also was introduced to (and kind of got hooked on) Countertechnique. The approach to class involves drawing from a “toolbox” of potentially useful ideas based on principles of direction and counterdirection.

But with all that information, there’s also this available mantra of “fuck it.” As in if a tool doesn’t work for you today, fuck it and try something else. And if nothing works, fuck it and just dance. Or if you have fears or hangups or judgements about what you’re doing, fuck that and just do the task at hand.

I needed to hear this, as a person who sometimes cares about things way more than is useful. Not that this approach means not caring about anything, but it does give you the freedom to not care about everything at the same time. The freedom to let go of the habitual and static kind of caring and muscling and focusing–the kind you hold on to because it fits your perception of “working hard” and “being productive”–which is actually holding you back from moving in the directions you actually want to go.

I think this might be the mindset I need to let myself pursue dance.


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