Emma is a professional dancer and choreographer currently living and working in Scotland or Edinburgh to be more precise.
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Returning from the closing festival for Fresh Tracks Europe in Vienna I am faced with many thoughts, great excitement and a multitude of research questions of both a practical and theoretical nature: a major question being that as an artist should the practice and the theory be separated? Leading to the further question, is our lack of succinct dialogue causing this separation?
The trip has consisted of attending around three performances daily, post show discussions and several symposiums: addressing questions of audience perception, artists development and dance mediation. Attending the events were artists from a wide variety of cultures and countries.
Firstly, as a native English speaker what is always fascinating is the way in which serious discussion is navigated by those who do not speak English fluently or as a second language. More interesting, perhaps, is the observation that generally any areas showing evidence of miscommunication did not come out of the crossing of cultures but from the broad terminology used to address our beliefs and encounters.
The clearest example of this was during a symposium concerned with developmental stages of young audiences, where psychologist Virginie Roy-Nigl was asked to make an opening statement as a trigger for further discussion. The discussion that followed initially managed to address very little (in contrast, the body language of some of the invited choreographers panel spoke volumes).
In question was the use of dance as education. Roy-Nigl, informed us that at a particular development stage dance performance as education is futile and that dance as experience is far more relevant. Fairly, following this statement a choreographer asked for a definition of the term 'education'. This question, as begged by many attendees, I feel was already loaded with defence of dance as valid practice. In effect what had been stated by Roy-Nigl was a far cry from what had been heard with the both parties somewhat to blame for the misunderstanding.
Roy-Nigl defined her use of the term in this respect as quantifiable knowledge however this definition was lost in translation and so ensued a loaded discussion in which two parties argued similar points repeatedly in differing vocabulary. Until, the moderator rightly stepped in to highlight that the speakers were in fact in agreement.
The consequence of this was a stagnant atmosphere that, to an extent, stifled further discussion. Interesting points were made and lost as the ability to listen was blocked by an innate defensive sensation that is all too easily achieved in passionate discussions.
Having been very fortunate to participate in a workshop fortnight with David Gordon and Liz Lerman as part of Scotland's Choreographic Futures Programme in November, I was very aware that I had already been awakened to the observing how we communicate and the lack of communication that actually happens in our daily lives. The most ironic element of this new learning being that more often than not communication is stunted by attempts to avoid alienating those we wish to communicate with.
For example as mentioned above, clarity and reinforcement are often confused practices where by a speaker simply restates their initial argument in multiple ways as opposed to reducing their statement to the clearest form of existence, thus reducing ambiguity to a minimum. Clarity and word selection is key as the notion of reinforcement instigates a defensive reaction in the person we are speaking with, in turn causing them to stop listening or worse to selectively listen to the statements made.
Time to Listen
The manner in which we listen is also a huge responsibility as if we ourselves form a heightened sense of defensiveness we cannot hear what is being said. In the example above, had the listener reserved judgement until clarity of definition was given they would have supported the speaker and discussions may have been formidable, resulting in deeper discussion throughout.
Of course, to perceive and follow multiple interpretations of a proposal until the opportunity to seek clarity is given is both complex and not easy; potentially more so in this case as both the speaker and listener were conversing in a second language.
It is as a result of this I question if a succinctly defined glossary of terms is required to discuss dance. This of course would take time to establish and those entering any debate would need to be familiar with the terms generated but this is reasonably achievable. After all as a psychologist Roy-Nigl presumably works from a glossary of terms. Had these been shared by us all prior to her statement the following discussion may have reached far deeper levels and the innovative thought the symposium intended to achieve.
To establish such a glossary may still be beneficial and reduce the need for us all to clarify our intentions repeatedly throughout our daily lives. Either this or we could all endeavour to reduce our statements until our intentions are precisely framed. However, during passionate conversation a skill such as this must be excellently practiced to remain achievable at all times.
Another example of miscommunication over the trip was during a post show discussion in which I asked if duration had been a considered by choreographers in the creation of a work in process that was shared. The choreographers then asked for a more specific question and incorrectly I offered an alternative question along the lines of 'how did you decide upon the length of each section?'.
This was followed by a closed statement which neither offered the audience or the choreographers greater insight into their practice.
In fact, what I was initially trying to do was observe the work structurally with duration as a focus. I purposefully held back my opinion of how duration had affected my viewing of the work to see if the choreographers comments would influence my opinion.
Instead, I ended up proposing a question that could be interpreted as either naive or judgemental. Both of these interpretations create a power imbalance in a conversation where there should simply be an open forum for discussion. In my opinion it is this power shift that encourages defensive responses from those participating.
I genuinely was supposing an open ended question to stimulate thought.
More Interactions More Problems
At another interaction one choreographer informed the group that she does not like to propose statements, only questions. I believe many of the individuals in the room had a similar notion however this statement was followed by a series of loaded questions which, in effect, were statements. This is turn alienated a majority of the group and again limited conversation.
I highly doubt that this was her intention but if we are not careful about how we say what we say, we all run this risk.
Liz Lerman's critical response process is brilliant if all involved are aware of it. I feel very lucky to have lived through two weeks with her and to have experienced how she opens deep debate in a room but I do understand that it is difficult without practice.
Understanding how we communicate is, in my opinion, the key to being able to discuss issues in detail and without limiting what we can learn. At the absence of being able to introduce everyone to Liz's process I would suggest that we all learn to listen,clarifying ambiguous statements before we let it interrupt our judgement. Furthermore we perhaps all need to learn to explain and reinforce our statements less in the hope of giving time for more to be said.
In order to make this happen a glossary of clearly defined terms, particularly regarding funding bodies, education and practice would assist in simplifying the way we speak. In modern society it would also be easy to distribute and practice.
This leads to two questions. Firstly, who would be entrusted to make this glossary? Secondly, do public bodies truly want to define their aims and practice?
I sadly feel that neither question would result in a succinct answer
I have been an appalling blogger. Hands up. Apologies.
The past year has flown past and although I have not forgotten about Article 19 I will admit that I have been in a period of hibernation. Sometimes you feel that you have nothing worth saying either creatively or in text format (this may even be the same thing!).
I feel very fortunate in the fact that I have resurfaced filled with questions, energy and focus. I am also aware that many dancers and creators hibernate and never return to the profession; I now understand why. Afterall, to find a way forward in this industry you must not only have passion and energy but a remarkable thick skin. Either this, or the gift of the gab, a willingness to believe your own hype and someone daft enough to throw money at you.
Admittedly I have still been teaching and developing over the past year, in spite of injury, but essentially my drive to learn has dominated everything. I feel recharged. This has led me to question why we always feel the need to drive forward publically even when we need refuelled.
Of course the answer is a combination of not wanting to drop out of focus, for both audiences and funders: this would be bad business, and a balance of convincing yourself you are still acheiving success in an increasingly difficult profession.
I wonder if this is also the reason people jump on the band wagon with choreographic fads and movement trends. Afterall, you have to keep up with the competition.
My hibernation has made me realise that this need to 'keep up' and 'save face' is the reason many artists do not maintain longevity in the profession. Your integrity is everything, even if it is not cool.
How many people work in a job they do not believe in and let it weigh them down to the point of simply for the weekend? Why would you choose to do this in an industry with an unrealiable income that is physically and emotionally so demanding?
Therefore, although I am rejuvenated and full of energy I refuse to try to do everything. I maintain that this year I will focus this energy very specifically and invest in the things I beleive have integrity. In doing so I hope that in fifteen years time I will still be driving the art I have faith in and will have succeeded in perfecting my niche in the dance sector.
Wish me luck!
Where have I been? Why is it almost April? Who has any spare time these days?
Apologies Article 19ers, I have been AWOL from almost everything in my life for the past few months that does not require me to physically be there. Every minute has been amazing from learning in New York with Archie Burnett and Benny Ninja for almost six weeks to working with Gary Clarke in Liverpool in one of the most intense experiences of my life!
I'm not needlessly name dropping but in fact the period of learning I have just completed has brought me to the absolute realisation that you are only as strong as your sources.
Since spending time with some real pioneers I have been confronted by many artists with varying stances on techniques, the evolution of dance and some of the arts policies that everyone is eager to discuss; just generally would rather discuss off the record.
These discussions have led me to reaffirm my belief that there are always multiple sides to every story and especially in the arts world everything is just opinion. The validity of this opinion is unfortunately based completely on the strength of your sources and sadly very few sources in the sector are without personal bias.
The UK dance sector is tiny and mildly incestuous because it is so small. This brings many benefits but also brings the dreaded truth that any misinterpreted information can become 'fact' in a very short time period.
It is as a result of these 'facts' that the general atmosphere of our sector is formed and our international reputation can be built or impaired. I'm not at all accusing that we are all navel gazing because we do have a nation with many innovative, inspiring and exciting artists who even though they appear to have 'made it' always question their beliefs and systems in a humble manner that leads those they mentor to do their own research and form their own opinions.
However, we do need to begin to self regulate on a more advanced scale. If not, art forms will be lost forever amongst strange mutations. I'm not against evolution but am for acknowledging the evolution of the art in order that pioneers aren't discredited or forgotten for their contributions over the years.
Education work, for an artist, is somewhat a commission in my mind. Unless you are devising an education programme to support your own professional work you have to meet the remit of your employer and more importantly the remit of those attending your class. Even at that if you are devising your own education programme you must meet the requirements of those you are selling the programme to.
Therefore, how do you address a situation in which all expectations are different yet all equally ''correct''?
I have been in situations previously where I know the expectation compromises my professional integrity and as a result have been told by corporations that they no longer require my services.
Apologies if I refuse to perform services that are out with the role of a tutor, are actually extremely serious and more so that I am not trained to do: for example feeding an individual at a high risk of choking or restraining a powerful young man who has extremely challenging behaviour.
Further apologies to the establishments who feel cramming forty under tens in a small carpeted space with only myself and a volunteer from a local dance school is perfectly acceptable. I simply won't do it as it would be no fun for anyone, let alone be productive or creatively stimulating.
These situations are easy to negate as they are arguably wrong on the grounds of (I hate to say it) health and safety which means I don't ever have to venture into the grey area of artistic code or unwritten social expectation to terminate a contract.
However, what happens when something is 'wrong' on the grounds of artistic code and expectation. How far should you be willing to bend or should you bend at all? Is it a case of stating that some elements of practice are more beneficial than others? Or is it a case of letting this be led by the commissioning body?
It is extremely difficult to answer in general terms as each case is so specific.
For example, with new learners in science we lie. Certain physical equations are over simplified to the extent that they don't actually reflect the science of the matter at all BUT if we did not over simplify in this manner it would be impossible to introduce the subject matter to a new learner in the first place.
Therefore, can we over simplify in participatory settings without compromising the art form we deliver?
Personally I feel that yes we can depending on the expectation of the client, however I don't think that other artists agree. In certain situations the client does not agree which makes the matter even more complex.
If working with a group of aspiring professional dancers then yes, I believe a professional company ethos totally mirroring the professional practice of the company should be used. No argument from me, BUT the majority of dance enthusiasts do so at a recreational level.
When dealing with young children I revel in the balance of creative and 'technical' work however many parents and employers criticise this creative play in spite of my thorough explanation and reasoning behind it (which can be backed up by screeds of research FYI!!!!). This brings in to question, who is the client? The parent or the young dancer? In my experience more often than not the parent which is very sad considering that some of the strongest structured improvisations I have ever seen have been performed by five year olds who grasps the concept of an improvisational score as naturally as they play with Lego!
In additional support needs work I have often received feedback from the support workers of non verbal dancers who claim to 'know' the individual they care for but when this support worker changes the feedback changes. GREAT!
Furthermore, in a team teaching environment I have received feedback from peers. This, I feel is extremely vital and a great experience to learn. However, this is not always a bed of roses and can create a platform which questions everybody's expectations (and as ego becomes involved can become an underhand slanging match about artistic integrity) in spite of detailed planning.
Finally, what if the entire group are satisfied with the exception of one individual. How far do you change your approach and faith in your approach to suit that individual? At what point do you simply let the client know that their expectations were wrong and point them in another direction?
In many commercial settings NEVER but surely this is detrimental to the art form as well as the other dancers in the room? Of course contemporary dance can be taught to motown music and if it creates a greater response from the dancers in the space (although in the eyes of some this is horrifying) then fine. But, at what point does the art form become neglected and misunderstood to the point that the expectations built over years of its; evolution become lost?
At a recent meeting of the artists in Dumfries and Galloway, where there has recently been another atrocity in the mismanagement of the arts, a gentleman used this apparently well known proverb and I genuinely had to stifle my inappropriate laughter! Yet, a truer word has never been spoken.
In my short artistic career I have seen many situations in which arts organisations have been closed or individuals have been removed from key positions in what can only be described as a haphazard manner with potentially devastating effects.
I don't wish to dwell on the politics of any individual circumstance but recent events in Dumfries and Galloway have brought the complete misunderstanding of the management of the arts to light once again.
D&G Arts Association was in many respects the key link in Dumfries and Galloway between artists, the council and funders. I do not wish to comment on their successes or failures at this time because the decision has been made to liquidate the company as stated on their website:
The directors have decided to cease all trading activities of dgArts from 30th September 2011, due to the company's financial position. They are taking advice and are in the process of commencing the procedure to wind up the company.
You will be contacted by the company over the next few weeks with details of a meeting to appoint a liquidator.
Patricia J Smith on behalf of the Directors.
My great concern, having spoken with artists and various representatives in the area is the manner in which an arts association has so quickly been liquidated, in turn not only leaving staff jobless at short notice but leaving all of the projects they had been working on and towards in turmoil. Therefore, directly impacting on the artists in the region and those who would have been visiting the region to support these projects.
Dumfries and Galloway is a creative region, in spite of not truly advertising this at present, it is a cultural hub especially in terms of Visual Art and Craft. DGAA played a fundamental role in building some of the great things that contribute to developing the creativity and creative reputation of the region. As we all know, as artists, it is from prior investments that new projects evolve through weeks - if not months - of painstaking discussions.
We often rely on the promise of our investors until things are tied into a contract, usually not far in advance of the project start date by which point much of the research and development for the project has already taken place. Or, has indeed occupied our minds and usually marked out a chunk of our diary (the money maker) in order to ensure that when funding decisions are made we are available to complete our side of the deal.
Business minds don't get this, or if they do their procedures do not reflect this. When losing an individual or an association such as DGAA you do not only lose the knowledge these associations have built of their sector and region. You vitally lose contact with the artists of the area and more importantly you lose the hooks upon which many of these artists had already hung their future plans.
It takes years to become a recognised and valued competitor in the arts sector. I use the word competitor as sadly we all have to be to earn our crust and, although I do agree that we each as artists are responsible for finding our niche in the commercial sector from where we can support ourselves, we have to compete on a regular basis for limited funding.
However, the years we spend building a reputation are quite blatantly thrown away when liquidators or committees overturn the networks that have taken so long to forge by simply deciding something/ someone is no longer viable in their eyes.
How many people are from an arts background who make these decisions? And by background I mean, who has honestly struggled to achieve what they are intrinsically inspired to create whilst paying the bills? Current systems do not assure me greatly that any of these people are.
What I find more alarming, and what is possibly at the root cause of these atrocities still taking place, is that we as artists are also reflective of 'committee decisions' lacking effect.
Especially in regions such as D&G, but inclusive of even inner city arts, we are so secluded in our work through scheduling, location, inspiration and trying to fit a life in occasionally. This in itself gives the business minded a distinct advantage as by the time we organise ourselves enough to meet to discuss lobbying for what we know is artistically best we have missed the boat.
However, even if we do manage to get together (such as a truly impressive number of artists did in D&G on Monday of this week - sincerely hats off to such a spread out population of artists getting together in one room and more so applause to the individuals who got us all there: you know who you are!) we are not particularly good at getting anything done! Sorry, but it's kind of true.
We talk a good game, we are likeminded in many respects but without the administration to carry our thoughts forward in a succinct manner to our ''superiors'' we may as well not meet at all.
A committee of artists is equally as difficult as any committee, more so in fact because we are all trying so hard to balance our general career that lobbying is just another thing on the to do list.
How do we overcome this?
In an ideal world there would be a dedicated arts enthusiast who would take the administrative strain allowing us all to input our feelings but who would then have the passion, time and business acumen to create strategy and impact. However, if these individuals existed would we not all have voluntary managers who, often as we do, were involved and worked with us without the promise of a pay cheque?
Perhaps a union? A union that understands us BUT as freelance artists would we really strike?
Firstly, as a performer, choreographer or tutor I can list twenty names off the top of my head who would jump right into my shoes leaving me on a picket line skint, soaked (I'm in Scotland) and in doubt of my future.
Secondly, I hate to have to say it but would anyone really care if we all stopped creating? Many of our 'audiences' don't miss our work per se but only notice the obviousness of its distinct effects after the event; in a parallel to the Black Swan Theory (hence, the name of my company, so named BEFORE that bizarre movie).
As per usual I don't have an answer. However, I openly call out to anybody with one because if we don't find one soon this kind of thing is going to continue leaving too many casualties to count including lost projects, lost artists and lost development of our arts sector.
I am not a martyr to the cause and would never make out that I am hard done by in terms of support but of late I have been snowed under filling out funding grants for next year and am sick of feeling inadequate.
This inadequacy does not come from not having answers; ever since I was a child I've always had an answer! But in terms of the said forms I do not have an answer yet....
Opportunities and artists, from my experience, tend to work in three monthly blocks however the latest application wait is 12 weeks. Therefore I find out on the day I'm supposed to fly if I receive the funding or not. It's an opportunity I cannot turn down but come December I may be getting on a plane (flights will have to be booked now or will cost the entirety of my grant) without a penny to my name. Eeeek!
I know many artists feel the same and although I do not have a definitive answer surely there must be a simpler way of letting us know if we stand a chance.
It takes five minutes to read an application and put it in the 'no-hope', 'maybe' or 'looks like a winner' pile. Could this work systematically? It would make life easier for the artist anyway and surely we are the people being served.
It's either that or I start planning years down the line by which point both passion and capacity to learn become confused by over planning and logisitics.
The other issue comes in that the arts is a gamble and I feel that many of these forms ask you to predict an outcome before the project has started. Research and development is just that, you don't know where you're going until you've been on the journey. i'm not saying you should give out money willy nilly but really, surely funders a scent for a winner!
Maybe we could give presentations and find out on the day.....eeeeek!! Express it through dance, ha! Obviously for large amounts it needs to be more official but for development could someone just turn up with a cheque book???? Imagine!
Apologies once again for the lack of contact but August has been a whirlwind. Not only does Edinburgh erupt with every form of art and some forms less arty but I have also had the joy of sporting two cracked ribs, visiting the Impulstanz festival, performing with two wonderful projects and entering a bboy competition (YES, I believe I may be going insane but it was an epic moment in my life).
IMPULSTANZ is a must visit and when in Vienna I had the joy of meeting many people from all over the world who had turned our for the festival. Literally from all over the world (Australia, New Zealand, Uganda, Mexico, Turkey, France, Hungary.... the list goes on). It offers too many opportunities to discuss, please check their website, and last year truly changed my life.
It cost me very little to get there, live there and dance there (considering what I got out of it all) however what is most concerning is that I was the only Scottish bred dancer who is still fully based in Scotland to be there. Aside from the wonderful Norman Douglas and Penny Chivas Scotland was long forgotten and there were few and far between English, Irish or Welsh reps either.
This is very worrying in my mind. I don't believe we should move directly along the same artistic route as Europe or the rest of the world but surely to feed ourselves we must develop on a parallel with them? Why are more artist not leaving there bubble to fuel themselves?
Just a thought.
Speaking of fuel, I will be visiting the cracking Dance City in Newcastle next week to begin work on a new project. I am extremely excited as for once I a wiling to admit this may be a year in the researching and that there is no rush to complete the work, only an urgency to ensure we don't miss anything during the development of the piece.
As such I would like to ask what you see when you dance? Literally, spiritually and in any other form. Answers on a postcard..... or just private message Black Swan Dance Theatre on facebook (under products and services). Many Thanks!
I have been off the radar for so long it's quite remarkable yet I am quite pleased as the entire time has been spent dancing amongst one of the most diverse casts I have ever experienced. Talk about learning from people... it's been so much I could do with a week to recover.
Sadly amongst all the joy there is the terrible reality of realising what dance has become. The enthusiasm of people concerning dance is growing immensely and this is exciting however the lack of knowledge being bred by so called 'dance reality shows' is making my life a misery.
Since when, as a contemporary dancer, is it customary to use pop music and bust out the odd back flip? Whatever happened to R&D and an art? So it is, the definition of my trade lies somewhere between this and my mum telling people I pretend to be a tree. Oh dear!
What is worse is this growing belief that all dancers (who are remarkably similar in slight frame) are represented by a small minority which is strangely 50% male? Last time I checked my personal statistics I spend half my life throwing females around for the lack of men in the trade. Although I do, heaven forbid, lift men in works where the lady plays a greater role than a simple weak woman in a short dress possibly looking for love and being manhandled by a topless, oiled up hunk.
Not to mention the fact they can turn their hand to any dance style...... what do you mean you don't tap Emma? Ehhhh, does a joiner fix cars?
Promotion is great but are audiences coming in to theatres? If they are, are they leaving disappointed because their television coaching leads them to believe three minutes is an ideal length for a work and everything should either be funny or about love whilst playing on traditional gender roles?
There has to be a better way of getting people involved in the nitty gritty of the artform?
Oh and finally, I may as well say what most of us think, since when did having one particularly flexible hip make you a dancer qualified to judge all styles like you know what you're talking about?
Entertainment 1 - 0 Art
I love this notion, all great innovators (not necessarily consciously) have taken this on board. However, when consciously trying to tackle an existing reality it is not always that easy. If logic steps into the process you can find yourself beaten before you have began.
All of the areas you procrastinate over replacing exist because they serve a purpose. To replace these you must identify what their purpose is and then fulfill it in a new, more successful manner. The real catch 22 with the arts is that everything is so dependant on subsystems and counterparts there sometimes seems to be no way to break the cycle.
Therefore, maybe the innovators are those who are bold enough to take their first steps blind? For example, the emerging choreographer who just goes ahead without any financial support but then evokes interest and creates opportunities for themselves; the first individual (she's a lady and great lady) to stand up and demands that they undertake a PhD in Hip Hop because people are interested in the research; the aspiring dancer who, without sufficient funds, jets off to New York to discover more about training and themselves as a dancer yet they find a way to survive and return a stronger person.
Due to the dreaded CV update, flurry of current audition notices and short contract applications I have completed in the month, I have been reflecting upon how naive I must have appeared to do many of the things that have became the foundation of my developing career but also the headway I made through this naivety (not to mention through a hard slog of work!). Now, I find myself questioning taking on tasks as I am aware of how much work will be involved and I sometimes wish I could be that naive again.
My favourite artists are those who are no longer naive but crazy enough to do it anyway (of which there are still many they are just less commercially known!). In a way I wonder of they are the REAL artists as their compulsion overrides their logic?
If anyone can point me in the direction of more of these artists please do as these as the next round of people I want to hunt down and learn from.
Having a discussion with a dear physicist friend last night the topic of conversation arrived at a conference she had been to where a Harvard lecturer had stumbled upon a fantastic new means of teaching. Instead of using lectures to regurgitate a text book at students using power point (or other similar available presentation software) he suggested that the students actively engage in their learning, firstly as a whole , then in pairs and finally through a discussion with their lecturer.
My friend was shocked that this was nothing new to dancers.
This in turn shocked me.
To watch each other, discuss with each and to use a million different forms of repetition is the basis of all good dance training. If I was left to read a ballet manual I would in no way ever be a prima!
This led us to discuss the way in which we both learned physics at school. In short, everything you are told you discover is a lie when you reach a more advanced level. For example at Standard Grade Speed equates to Distance divided by Time. In Higher you are told that Speed does not exist as Velocity is a more accurate representation of what we believe to be speed as it takes in to consideration rate and direction of change. It turns out that as you go on to learn even more physics that everything you have ever been taught was a variation of the factual truth.
I suppose this is life all over (and definitely choreographic academia, but that is another discussion). It is only natural that we oversimplify things to ensure novices are not overwhelmed by the knowledge we give them.
Therefore, does it take a very special type of teacher to teach a novice?
I know, as I'm sure we all do, many wonderful dancer who are rubbish teachers for many reasons. I utterly disagree with the phrase 'If you can't, TEACH' and think more 'If you can't teach, don't teach' as for some it is sharing of knowledge that drives them.
The more we discussed the more it appeared to me that the most difficult teaching can be at novice level and not because there is so much to be taught - this widens out the playing field. Hell, everyone can leave learning something new if they knew nothing to begin with! BUT it is more difficult as you have to be selective of your knowledge. You must be so knowledgeable that you know what knowledge is superior to other knowledge, even when all of the knowledge relies upon the other knowledge that you have to miss out. You know?!!
That does not even get in to the fact you must be able to communicate this knowledge well with your students.
So, my question, how do you teach a plie?
It's such a simple yet fundamental move.
Do you being in posture? This is a nightmare to correct once bad practice begins?
Do you bend the knees past demi plie before you discuss weight placement on the feet? This will lead to weak ankles.
Do you use the arms or just forget they're there?
Parallel or turned out? Do you then go into detail about rotation?
I could go on.....
The more we discussed it the more we came to the conclusion that without the ability to simplify things we would never do anything but just discuss doing things and novices would never get to dance! Therefore, as hard as it is, until some students have a grasp of one thing you must relax about other details. It is not turning a blind eye but giving them time to digest before overloading them.
This, I know, seems obvious but for at least three hours last night fascinated us as the more you simplify the world the less there is to worry about.
With that in mind I am off to simplify the new Creative Scotland funding system for myself... wish me luck!