Conditioning

I’m humbled to see how deep so much of my conditioning runs.

I’ve been learning about and experimenting with inclusive dance techniques for almost a decade now. I’m continually looking for ways to make the ways I perform, think about, create and teach dance/theater inclusive of people with diverse mobilities.

And still my conditioning asserts itself over and over. I fall back on how I learned to dance. Sometimes this is wonderful and provides a storehouse of movement approaches and remembered choreographies. But sometimes this keeps me blind to who is actually with me in the room and what is actually presenting itself to be investigated.

A few rehearsals ago four of us created what I am calling the “Head-Wall Phrase.” We took turns teaching the group movements, stacked on top of each other in an accumulating sequence. It was unplanned creation and I loved the energy that it brought along with it.

The next rehearsal had me wanting to teach this material to a larger section of our ensemble. I gave the instructions and we began. And right away Mickey remarked on how it can be so frustrating to learn movement material created by people without physical disabilities and then to have to take on the responsibility of adapting it to his body every time. Cristina agreed and I saw once again how much I was letting old habits dictate my rehearsal process.

While I do find that creating movement on my body with its particular mobility needs is a way for me to circumvent too much thinking and access my intuition, I would like to remember that I don’t have to teach that movement to others just by showing it and having them imitate me.

There are so many ways to share movement in more inclusive ways. I’ve discovered some, and plan to keep discovering more as long as I am involved in this kind of work. What I find over and over again is that exploring ways to relay material in as inclusive a way as possible is not only important so that more people can be included, but it is also always more interesting aesthetically to me in what it produces.

Once we figured out that we should teach the “Head-Wall Phrase” through words that each person could interpret through the filter of her/his kinetic intuition, we created dance that sung beautifully, rather than just accomplished a successful sequence.

Here is our before and after versions:

(The video can also be found here if the embedding doesn’t work for some reason: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHauNhnxWdw )

I look forward to watching this phrase evolve further as we include it within our larger structure, and as more ensemble members create their individual versions.

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