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WHAT WERE THE DIFFERENT EXPECTATIONS OF THE PARTICIPANTS ?:

This is hard for me to say and in truth I am not sure how usefull a question it is. The invitation letter was written in a very specific manner and was clear  about my intentions and desires. Most of the people invited to Vienna were very used to self directing and working with groups. They did not need so much structure in order to create and propose their own.  And in fact this group was, generally speaking, a large group of authority resisters who would have transformed any situation to meet their interests. I will include more details on my perception of other’s experiences in the description of the workshop.

WHAT DID THE GROUP WANT TO FIND OUT ?

This question does not apply to either my initial conception or to the Vienna group. As this was an art project rather than a science or academic project there were no goals of specific achievment. It is important for me to provide a process defined by very specific underpinnings of behavior and means and then to observe what is produced. I am highly suspicious of pre-determined knowladge production. If we can already define the goal than we already know.

 
HOW DID YOU STRUCTURE THE WORKSHOP ? WHAT DID WE DO ?

Again, for me the main structure of this experience was the existing phenomenon if Impulstanz (ie the class schedule and presence of students at the Arsenal, the character of the space given to us to work in and the individual experience of each participant with the festival) and my letter of invitation which clearly states the project. Of course this variety of  openess  requires some handling. I tried to be clear about the permission and possibility that I had organized for us by being available in a particular « hostess » sort of way. I tried to be available, encouraging and affirming. This was a sort of performance in order to provide a frame. We started on the first day with a very warm and somewhat confused meeting. It was important for me to be visable and responsible as the leader of the project but to also refuse to define the goals of the experience for others. I do recall the Sri Louise in particular really wanted to know what our purpose there was.This is a very valid and important question that I was unable to answer. I was unable to answer because I purposely had undone our « Useful » postion of teacher. We had no specific purpose and this to me was extremely important to maintain. Sri’s questions though were very important and useful to the group. Her enthusiasm to clarify things (an important element, in my perception, of sri’s identity as a teacher and an artist) played an important part in how we learned to talk and listen and work with each other. I will speak about his more latter. First of all let me back track and discuss who was there.

When I initially imagined this project there was a very specific list of artists associated with Impulstanz with whom I was intersted in working. Some of these artists were available for the project but a few were not. This really changed things and was a very happy accident. The somewhat homogenous college that I had imagined was not possible and my imagination of who should be there, who would benifit etc , utterly changed. With Rio I went through the list of teachers who woud be there trying to put a group together who did not have a similar profile. We ended with a very intiguing mix. DD Dorvilier, choreographer, performer, teacher of Skinner releasing technique and creative process workshop giver, New Yorker living out of a suitcase, and former DanceWeb coach( imulstanz teacher for about 5 years) ;  Loic Touzé Choreographer, dancer,former Paris Opera star, current force for the experimental on the french scene, defender of dance in contemporary aristic practice, teacher in dance and drama conservatories, workshop leader about 3 years with impulstanz ; Jennifer Monson legendary imroviser and choreographer from NY, currently pursuing a long term project in collaboration with scientists on dance and animal migratory patterns, children’s dance teacher for over 20 years and currently holding a tenured position at the university of illinois in the dance department ; Karine Label, dancer and teacher of haitian dance, nomad currently based in vienna, leader of Haitian Ritual for Austrians, doing much personal research on the relation of spiritual practice to artistic practice specifically linked to her practice of the Snake dance, impulstanz teacher for 7 or 8 years; Sri Louise Vedantic yogi, dancer, Choreographer, scholar and devoted class-taker, Yoga teacher and Yoga teacher Trainer, citizen of the world currently based in Vienna, Keith Hennessy performance artist, dance artist, community activist, choreographer, sometimes contact improvistion teacher, lately shamanic Workshop giver, professor at LLLLL . Frans Poelstra  global improvisor, theater artist, dancer, late in life father, choreographer, teacher for many years at the SNDO, workshop giver, currently beginning his career in disco, Christina Gaigg choreographer, dancer, investigator of systems, inventor of a program of critical practice at the BLAH BLAH university in vienna, Janet Panetta FINISH LATER

 

So what did we do ?

 
Transcription of poster

 

DAY 1 :

12 :30- Group Info Meeting

this is where the confusion began, I could not- would not define a global plan of action. I just continued to insist on the investigation of the class as art-object, on the possibility of observing and taking classes and on the propostion of « teach-back » as a possible critical dialogue . I tried to define my imagination of teach-back. « Teach-back » was not simply to  teach each other or to give each other class but rather the spontaneous  inventions of  class forms outside of the normative standards generally present when we give class. I suggested that this practice be our critical and theoretical discussion. As this was my imagination it was necessary for the others to have a bit of time to formulate what they thought of this and how they wanted to deal with it. I was also very clear that anyone could propose another course of action, that we were all responsible for creating a satisfying model of the meeting, of creating an experience for ourselves. I also re-enforced the concept of auto-ethnography. In this meeting we also began to talk about « what we do when we teach » , a language formula suggested by DD.  This began to bring up the desire to interview each other on a one to one basis. This possibility was enforced and encouraged by the salon program organised by Sri Louise . She was keen to continue her research in this area and the rest of us also realized the converstaions we wanted to have with one another were more intimate than circle style group conversation. People began dicuss what classes thay wanted to observe. Keith decided that it was really important for him to attend the dramaturgy workshop given by jeroon peeters and martin nachbar. He proposed to meet us in the end of the day to do whatever we were doing with us and to give us a report of his activity at the end. I mentioned that I was very curious to do an opening at the end of our time together- to offer a sort of class marathon. We could open our space to the community and offer « Class » all day. These classes could be absolutely experimental in form- we would not have to revert to tradional student teacher contracts for this event. I also said we would not be obliged to do this- we could decide later.

We decided to create a global schedule chart where we would all write down what we planned to do each day and modify it as things actually happened. This allowed us to have a common reference point that was not necessarily an agreement of group activity. Each of us could decide our day scedule in relation to what was happening in the room. The room was the constant. It was our reference space, always available, where we could find eachother and participate in the proposed activity of the room. We could be there or we could be elsewhere- taking, observing or giving class, meeting for interviews elsewhere etc

 
4 :15  DD,JL,JP,FP,JM  Moving with eyes closed ( the others off to various classes)
moving with eyes closed was proposed as a daily practice for those who wanted.  (describemore.....)

6 :00 JL to Bollywood class

6 :20 discussion re : schedule format

not sure what went on as I was in class- when i came back the wall poster had been started and partially filled in with different people proposing class forms they wanted to experiment.

 

TUESDAY :J

9 :45 JL, DD, JM Janet’s barre and roaming observing,, Loic observing Janet’s class

one of the things that I knew that I wanted to do was to fromalize a certain kind of personal impulstanz behavior. Often during gaps between classes I would drift into a ramdom studio to rest or read or plan class- the form and information of the class would filter in indirectly and then I would sometimes have some very clear and surprising thoughts about transmission, social contracts, techique etc.

 so i tried every day to « drift » officially.

10- 5- Keith Dramaturgy

Morning : Janet/ Karine Interview

Noon : bodywork and writing with JM (shelley Center joined) KL,SL,FP,DD, JM, JL CG, LY

(jennifer proposed class that consisted of intuitive touch followed by a period of writing. The class was followed by a discusion about the change effected in the body, the perception of the body, the terrain opened by this kind of simple form. We also had to admit that we are all very versed in this kind of touch and that led to a discussion of how to transmit, share or encourage this skill or awareness in others. What i remember ifs that we agrees on the imortance of creating a way for people to value and observe the truth and information of their own experience- that this is how we have learnt what we know. We also were really grateful for the revitilizing effect and it’s appartent ease and simplicity- about the value of creating these kind of situations within class)

2pm : Discussion

(see above I think that this was when shelly and jennifer M began to discuss their experiences teaching with in universities . Jennifer is just into her secind year and Shelly had just quit her university Job- I would prefer that they write more about their own experience- but it was clearly important for the two of them to evalute their experience and try to figure out some strategies to resist the some aspects of the enviroment in order to to give what they have to give. As with alot of our discussion- i dont believe that any conclusions were drawn.these conversations existed in order to feed our own needs- so that within our role as teachers we can change the way we practice- I feel strongly that this type of work happens on it’s own schedule and the conclusions drawn exist in the diseminated practice rather that thesis statements. The vienna group is out and about in the world now- using this time and these discussions to stay awake in our role as teacher. The experience can provide a reference point as we continue to insist on our own right to a contiued artistic practice when we arrive somewhere to be a teaching artist)

 

3pm Jennifer towel technique class

Janet 15 minute ballet class KL,SL,FP,DD, JM, JL CG, LY

THESE THINGS NEED DESCRIPTIONS

4 :30 Authentic movement  DD, JM,LT

( Written on chart : Possibilities : Talk, move , rest ,write- this was a form suggested by DD- she said that if she reduced the specificities of any creative workshop she had ever given they became these four things. She wanted to see what there was when there was no content adresses- only these bass note activities.- whether we did it on this day or not I cant remember)

5pm : Telepathic dances DD, JL,JM, LT

DESCRIPTION NEEDED

WEDNESDAY :

9 :45 JL janet’s Barre

11-12 : JL  drifting studio B

12 Jennifer Interview with Karine (see separate text)- scheduled : talking about what we do

1pm loics pillow class

Karine’s snake dance

DD reading of Skinner script

5PM mind reading schedules but postponed until thursday

Moving with eyes closed LT, JM, DD

JL driting

CG KL felderkreis

Sri and shelley interview

 
THURSDAY :

Post it : Religion Class discussion :

Now this was a desire that came up thankfully because we had tao participants who deal overtly with spiritual pracice in their classes and in their lives. I think on the previous day there had been a discussion when sri really challenged our definition of knowladge. After some debate it became clear that yes indeed they were different as we had different needs from the word. I think that I was mostly using it to refer quite simply to what one might « know » at any given moment. For Sri this word is a question, a part of her vedantic practice and it was clear that to use it in other more casual ways was unpleasant and sensless. Once we realized that our language conflict was infact just a diversity of experience- the conversation became more possible. I asked Sri for some one on one time the next day to learn more. This whole shebang brought up a discussion of sprirtual practice in relation to art practice, something that was a big area of question and curiosity for Karine. Karine gives classes in a dance for that is strongly tied to transe and divine communication .when she finds herself working with a group in vienna she is the sole representative of the culture that produced this practice.if the students « go far » she is solely reponsible for their state and their well being. Generally this kind of dance is done within a community that knows from experience how to take care of those who « go far ». karine spoke of how she had begun experimenting with the form of her own spritual practice being as isolated as she is from Haiti- she has begun to allow protocol to change in relation to her new surroundings and new needs. I was very intersted in how she spoke of these changes and the permission she gave herself to discover how she could alow her practice to evolve- it seemed like a very similar conversation to the one I have with my dance practice. Her non-rigid relation to religious practice seemes pertianat to all of us- we decided to discuss art class as religion class the next day.

Prelude : talking about what we do

11 :30 cleansing ritual with Karine

this seems imodest to discuss.

2 : Mind reading class
1)             Janet’s telephone exercise- verbal and physical
2)             Loic’s Telepathic dances
3)             Karines transmision

This continued the kind of conversation peculiar to this group and this situation that began the day before. Class forms were deveolpoed around certain intersts, topics with the participants spontaneausly proposing a part of the class, a part of the discussion. Somehting to do, not to talk about. This class, the Mind Reading Class – loic s quote- not intuition, not..... where is this ?

Group experience- improv

NOTES : As contepmory practice changes the needs of education change- the role of the practicing artist as teacher has become more of the norm so questions of GOOd teacher etc are important but, outside of ethical questions , the goodness of the teaching is linked to the practice and activity of the artists acting as teacher- the goodness also resides in the student how they are able to engage or equally fruitful- disengege from the class. These discussions are ones that continue- with other collegues and also within our work- teaching is a creative form as learning is a creative form.this is especially true when dealing with art.– it isnt seperate from our art practice- we are less teaching what we know and more sharing the capacity to not-know- an experience of feeling comfortable feeling a bit unstable- to experience change etc. specific knowladge-technique for example or tricks to approach composition for example- become pertinant with in the practivce of the younger artist- they are simply uninteresting without an awareness of personal and societal context. The one good thing i think we all agreed upon was the necessity of transparency of context for any given discipline or class- to make clear what aesthetic beliefs or dogma  or spiritual practice underlies the form being approached- to undo the absolutist quality surrounding ANY art practice.To encourage the awareness that our engagement in anyone form is a choice and that we can change our minds.  Any good teacher is also a student- someone who is still learning and who questions what they think they know. Practice- this is a form that remains constant and lets us observe our change around the form.

Post its

The spirit of the room, dance institutions

The situation of the class, that is ; the social contract implied or directly communicated, the use of time and space resources, the performative postion assumed by the teacher, the politics implied in the form of the exercise are intrisicly bound with the information shared. The best classes are aware of this and and create a cohearent realtionship between relational form and the information being shared. The best classes assume that the internal terrain of the student is larger than the class. This is of course my opinion. If we look at things this way then no forms or techniques are necessarily excluded or obsolete, only tryranical, unaware or simply unimaginitive teachers. One of the most important things I think that we elderly artists can share with younger ones is a capacity to think critically about our position in class and the class itself. Critacally does not mean being judgemental or dismissive it means/////// : There are some peculularities about being a dance artist- one of them is the likely hood that you will take class for most of your life. Class is terrain of practice and contemplation as well as skill building.  Outside of the context of an institution, dance class is a unique social form that has the possibility to be ( and often is already) much, much more than a neurotic maintaining of skills.The typical contempory dancer will encounter many techniques in her lifetime- this encounter which takes place in the intamacy of the body is in fact the perfect place to begin to build a habit of critical thought. The investment necessary to really approach a dance technique or method is generally a whole hearted, whole bodied one- if we can encourage ourselves and others to understand this as a quality of our investment, of our thought in fact, rather than as a an absolute quality of the technique or activity we may perhaps become kess bound to a tyranny of aesthetics and be able to think, dance and create more freely and in unimagined ways. If we can understand that we can invest ourselves fully and then chage our mind- even better((((( flexability..))))) If young learning dancers are encouraged to experience their learning not just as skill mastery but in fact an important part of the continuing discussion and development of their form, then dance has a fighting chance to remove itself further from the incidental and the decorative. I t has a chance to realize itself as a more mature art form, it has a chance to shake itself free of the theater and even occasionally from the specifically  performative. The more secure the artist, the less assumtions are made about the form- we can be free to not know yet. We can keep thinking.

When we speak about being dance teachers- whatever we « know » only exists through the experience of others- this is important to remember, it brings an immediate respect to the student person. In a sense we know nothing. we can just provide experiences for others so that they can know something.

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