In my last few days in Paris I was treated to another amazing class. Sherwood Chen, from San Francisco, taught a contemporary class at Menagerie de Verre filled with somatic based movement and interesting coordination games and phrases. The class began in partners. One at a time we were to manipulate the weight of our partner’s head. The cue was to, “essayez de faire des mouvement qui ne peuvent pas être faire sans partenaires.” I loved this and I loved that we had enough time to really engage in the activity and that it was not an afterthought from the teacher but rather we were encouraged to investigate the movement both when we were the manipulator and the manipulatee. We the repeated this exercise with new partners. Afterwards we then stood to begin simply walking and trying to recreate the movement our partners made with our heads. The cue while we were being manipulated was, “registrer ce que votre partenaire fait” and then the cue when waking was, “re-registrer ce que votre partenaire à fait mais maintenant seul.” I loved this concept to register to take note without actually analyzing or overthinking and then to attempt to recreate the movement your partner had instilled upon you. Really incredible work! We the did a series of some basic and some quite complex phrase work that really attacked coordination either unilateral or epsilateral. We all had a good laugh and it reminded us how we could certainly play like children and attempt the movements that may or may not come once a layer was added on top. Another exercise that I really enjoyed was the hip warm up. It was African dance based and my hips have never felt more accessible and open. We partnered again for a pseudo game of Twister but without the dial. Instead we had a partner asking us to move the limbs that we had named. I loved this game because some of the American students mixed with the Parisian and although there was an obvious language barrier I could tell that the task could be accomplished by merely listening and developing an ear for the foreign words. It was really beautiful to witness. We then manipulated this material with our partners and were asked to tell a story with our eight words. The words were completely unconnected but somehow out of:Boucle d’oreille
We were able to creat a story that worked with the movements we chose. So basic and simple but as we intertwined our limbs we created something valuable and interesting. Since I’ll be teaching Improvisation for Majors at the University of Arizona in the Fall I am looking forward to using a lot of the material I learned in this class. Here’s a photo of the beautiful skylights we danced under!
I was so excited that the grad portion of this Study Abroad required a creative project as well. I was able to showcase my work at Le Regard du Cynge which was a 12th century Barn turned into a dance studio! The place was brilliant! I’ve never seen anything like it and I also glad I was able to showcase some of my choreography there. It was also nice to see what others at different universities are showing. Most were from Florida State University, but one was from Temple and I was from University of Arizona. I saw some common choreography tools throughout and I really enjoyed being is such a historic place. Needless to say I think I’ll be heading back there to rent space so I can take some footage for another future project. I’ll post something once I figure it all out.
The piece I choreographed was titled ____________. The reason I chose to do this was because throughout my time visiting Paris I have been enthralled with the language’s ability to really describe the meaning of a word and to evoke emotion. From taking dance classes to continually hearing, “enchanté” when you meet someone, I have never really intellectualize the French language until this trip. The piece of music I used was Jaques Brel’s (although I used a cover by Jesse Cook) Ne me quite pas. I chose the above title because in the French language, there are several reflective verbs such as quitter, manquer etc. these really tell a much deeper story than what we regularly hear in the English language. When we say, “I miss you” we say “Tu me manques.” When we say, “don’t leave me” we say, “ne me quitte pas.” Therefore I chose to leave the title as a blank line. If you research the song you’ll come to understand why it was written, for whom, and perhaps understand the use of a brief solo followed by a duet.
And why wouldn’t I go see a 7th show in Paris before leaving? Yes that’s right 7 shows, 8 of you count the invited dress rehearsal. So yeah that’s 8 shows in 26 days! Not half bad huh??? Oh and yes I do have at least two more shows to see before I leave Europe on August 15th!
I went to see Chunky Move, Complexity of Belonging at the Theatre Nationale de Chaillot. You’ve already heard me rave about the theater itself! Amazing! Although I don’t think I talked about the bookstore! HELLO!!!! So I’m a big dance nerd and I love dance books.read them for fun on my time off and will be reading three while I’m here! Anyway… There are tons of books on dance and architecture, to dance verbs, and even a book called, Couturier de la Danse, Alex you have to read the book! If I can find it in French I’m buying it for you! It stared with what Anne was telling us with Coco Channel and Le Train Bleu and concluded with Merce Cunningham and Rei Kawakubo. I literally could have purchased every book in the place of my suitcase wasn’t already 7.5 pounds over weight. I noticed many of the books were published by the Centre Nationale de la Danse and once again I was overcome with the fact that dance in Paris is indeed a noble profession and something worthy of study. You’d think no #*&! Being that a king developed ballet but it still catches me off guard every time I see such reverence for movement.
Complexity of Belonging was a mixed media piece with a large backdrop, front screen, cameras on stage, as well as chairs strewn about the stage with choreographer Anouk van Dijk and Falk Richter as dramaturge. The dancing was UNREAL! I wanted to learn everything, I mean everything that the company was doing and attempt it myself. The women were strong and captivating and the men were of course strong but had an elegance about them. The movement phrases were so mesmerizing I wanted more! The dialogue was incredibly intense and I found myself desiring more movement. Although the stories were interesting, and did remind me of both myself and some of my friends, I wanted more dance. I had never seen a live Chunky Move performance but I was delighted by their movement and once again the humanity on stage. They were people, like you or I, despite the physicality, they were human beings telling their stories. This is what sets apart shows with so much technical bravura that you forget undoubtedly that they are also humans. Complexity of Being didn’t do that. It had equal parts bravura and human movement that allowed me to be taken away by their movement phrases.
And some more Wayne Byers wisdom was what I received in Friday. “Oui, c’est bien d’aller à l’école et les académies pour apprendre les lessons mais après tu dois les cassés, tu dois danser.” This was what nearly brought tears to my eyes in the small studios of Studio Harmonique. “Yes, it’s good to go to school and academies to learn the lessons, but after you have to break, you have to dance.” The reason that I was so emotional hearing this is because I have a student who this year thought she didn’t want to dance any more. I’m not an overbearing teacher because I strongly believe that dance is something you have to want. So if there’s any inclination otherwise I’m of the opinion that they need to sit themselves down and figure out why they are feeling the way they are. Analyze what it is that is making them feel this way. I’m always available with a leading ear but in the end the decision has to come from their being. My student realized that she does what to dance that she does want to keep learning that she wants to learn the rules so she can break them and slowly… She’s learning that on stage you have to trust. Trust that what you have is enough, is good enough and will continue to be enough. All the way from Paris I’m still thinking of you!
Our last official task was a photo project. I decided to look at the architecture in Paris because it has always intrigued me. I learned that the affinity towards architecture started when Paris created the Academie of Architecture in 1671 followed by the Prix de Rome in 1720. I also learned that French architecture boasts many different styles including: Gallo Roman,
Pre-roman, Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neo-classical, Second Empire, Beaux Arts, and Modern. I was glad I chose this subject because I’ve always been intrigued by the different styles of architecture that Paris has to offer and had really no idea that the Marais was to be leveled by Haussmann and Napoleon but because of the war the Marais stays very similar to the way Paris looked before the revolution. Loving the learning!
Le Musée de l’Histoire de Paris
Église de Giverny
Une Maison en Giverny