Professional Empowerment Strategy
The purpose of the Dancer’s Training Professional Empowerment Strategy was to allow practitioners (dancers/teachers/choreographers/creators) to increase their body awareness and perceptual consciousness through a method designed to combine the body principles on which dance techniques are based and to use them as creative tools in a dance performance. By letting to collide classic and contemporary dance means to lead a dancer to perceive how a position or a movement is engaged in the understanding of the body feeling, in its awareness, supporting like that the development of new forms of movement expression and the evolution of the discipline. According to that, Professors Vito Di Bernardi and Letizia Gioia Monda – as members of the Sapienza University of Rome, team responsible for the articulation of working languages and operational modes of exchange between the partners to put into play within the Clash! project – recognized two topics as a base for the National Seminars on the Dancer’s Training Professional Empowerment Strategy. First, imagination and creativity as critical aspects, an amateur or a professional dancer should get in touch since the very early stage of their education in the discipline, to cultivate the culture of the body. Second, the role of a pedagogue – who might be a dance teacher, a trainer, or a maître de ballet – giving to him/her the responsibility to apply the methodology proposed and to develop a training program for the participants attending at the National Seminars. By following the method, each partner was able to choose a pedagogue for leading the dancers through their own training strategy with the purpose to increase practitioners’ feeling, attention, and perception, by transforming the way in which imagination and creativity are applied within the dance practices.
The methodology proposed by Sapienza University Team was divided into 3 phases, and the pedagogue of each dance company had the chance to decide how to apply it according to the need of his/her own organization.
In the first phase, participants had to investigate ballet models through the application of somatic principles. In this term, the pedagogue’s role was meant to develop a dancer’s training strategy where ballet work was contaminated by somatic practice with the aim of leading the participants to explore the whole body, its psycho-physical skills, as an expressive tool. He/she had to decide which technique to apply and implement in the ballet training among Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, Yoga, Floor Barre (Zena Rommet Technique), Pilates, Body-Mind Centering. The cross-pollination between ballet technique and somatic practices aimed at pushing the practitioners to research on the performer’s perceptive qualities as a channel of understanding dance as movement language. This section of the seminar had the purpose to focus on the negotiation between body and mind starting from the dancer’s proprioceptive mechanisms to allow participants to experience space and time as active fields of the movement. Practically, this part of the training aimed at leading the body, in its wholeness, to discover a new somatic awareness, in order to explore physical conditions of coordination, balance, orientation, and creativity.
In the second phase, the practitioners had to study another physical training. The pedagogue could choose between Martial Arts (Aikidō, Butō, Capoeira, Fencing, Jiu-Jitsu, Tai Chi, etc.) or National Folk Dances with the purpose of increasing and supporting dancers in the development of other types of physical skills different from the linearity of Ballet. The aim was to lead the participants to explore other patterns of movement shifting their understanding of the body perception. This session of the training was planned by Sapienza Team to guide the partners to research on the possible ways to put in dialogue body principles from different dance techniques, to build and articulate, deconstruct and re-direct the choreographic action in the creative process. This approach had the purpose also to drive dancers to think and choose what makes feel them more comfortable during dance training.
In the third phase, attendees had to focus on improvisation and choreographic creative processes to increase a dancer’s work during the production of a new performance or the replacement of a repertoire piece. It aimed at leading the participants at the seminar to obtain a critical and analytical eye on their art-making work. According to that, improvisation seemed to be a crucial technique to allow a dancer to understand how to realize the organic transition between materials of movement (also when the steps are fixed by passing through stable body positions as in ballet). Furthermore, it helps to feel the body presence and its connection with one of the others. The work on improvisation was meant as a tool for avoiding automatisms coming from the close training in one dance technique, and to increase the dancer’s attitude for physical research. The purpose of this session was also to teach through improvisation the relevance of carrying a collective work, leading practitioners to increase the trust and the sense of group. In these terms, the rule of the pedagogue was recognized as fundamental to communicate to dancers the capacity to be author and co-author of a choreographic making process.
Sapienza Team advised the partners to schedule the Dancer’s Training Professional Empowerment Strategy: for the Internal Seminar in 20 hours divided in 5 days (4 hours each day); and the External Seminar in 1 full day of 8 hours with a balanced selection of the three phases. According to this method, both for the Internal and the External National Seminar the training had to end every day with 30 minutes of conversation between the pedagogue and the participants at the seminar. During this time, all together, they had to reflect and discuss the work done. In order to support this dialogue, Sapienza Team suggested to propose at the attendees a book, a sentence, a key question on which the practitioners should work on in order to develop the capacity to talk about the practice giving value to their dance tacit knowledge.
Click down on a picture and discover how each
dance company developed its own Dancer’s Training Strategy