When drawing near to the end of my degree at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance one of my big worries was not doing class everyday. Since graduating I miss doing a daily class, and I also get frustrated that I can't go to more classes, but I have also learn to appreciate the benefits of not doing class as regularly as I'd like. That being that when I do go I am more focussed and excited to be there. And I walk away reminded of why I do what I do.
Living in London is also awesome in the fact there are just so many good teachers about, who live here or who are visiting/invited to teach. I feel very lucky to have done class with some extremely knowledgeable and experienced dance artists/teachers.
This week I took Malcom Mannings class at the Siobhan Davies Studio. He teaches most of the time in Finland, but for about four months a year he travels around, teaching in various places in Europe. His classes are a mixture of what he calls 'APP' (awareness,perception, presence), Feldenkrais Method, somatics and anatomy, with a dose of improvisation.
After class yesterday Malcolm said he had an hour to talk about the class/his teaching/answer any questions. I didn't really have any questions personally, but I was interested to hear what he/other class memebers had to say.
I'm glad I stayed, it was really inspiring to hear Malcolm talk about his experiences as a dancer and a teacher, and also supported a lot of feelings I have about dance/being a dance artist. At a time when new graduates, like myself, are trying to find their identity, it feels reassuring to find people with a similar point of view. And it always excites me when I hear people talking about their experiences of dance, and continual learning process, over long spans of time. It reminds me that (hopefully) I will never stop learning and my understanding of my body and dance will grow and grow.
Two things that stuck out for me from the number of topics Malcolm disussed was, firstly, that the teacher is far more important than the technique, something I can completely relate to. Dance is very much about connections, and finding the right connection can open up new worlds.
Secondly was what it takes (or what helps) to make successful dancers. After having experienced what his students think they need to be successful dancers and watching his students who had 'made it' in the European dance scene Malcolm thinks the following portfolio of skills will get you far;
- adequate technique (doesn't have to be amazing)
- a creative mind (due to the fact that more and more choreographers work in a collaborative/non hierarchical manner)
- the ability to translate an idea/concept in to movement.
- being a nice person/easy to work with.
I whole heartedly agree.
To view Malcolm Manning's website click here