Back Teachers Online Conference
Dance Well and Moving Communities – Teachers Online Conference
In February 2021, we gathered together teachers and volunteers of Dance Well (Italy) and Moving Communities (Israel), to discuss and reflect our challenges, thoughts and experiences in teaching movement for people with Parkinson’s disease, during times of COVID-19.
The meeting structure:
- Introduction by Yasmeen Godder and Roberto Casarotto.
- Physical Practice with Sigal Bergman.
- Introduction to separating into discussion rooms by Monica Gillette.
- Five discussion rooms were led by: Yasmeen Godder, Sigal Bergman, Shiri Sabah Teicher, Eynav Rosolio, Anat Bar, and Nir Vidan.
- Group Leaders present the points discussed in the room.
- Conclusion and discussion with Monica Gillette.
Each group dealt with one common question regarding skills, and one specific subject (described below):
- What are the skills that we’ve accumulated over this year as teachers?
- Did we bring new or other practices into teaching during this past year? How does one prepare oneself for teaching what are the things that people had to do to navigate inside this new medium? How did you add new components to your practice? Not only in the context of the zoom classes.
Group 1 Healing – Yasmeen Godder
The word “healing”. How does this connect to what we’re doing? (for a year all of us and humanity are traumatized. There’s a need to deal with the word from the perspective of well-being and from the perspective of healing physically, and spiritually.) How do we bring this idea of healing back into the space?
- Ana: Met lots of loss this year
- Ari: Communication trouble, obstacles in communication.
- Kim: Chaotic times, what’s real, what’s not real?, reduced communication skills.
- Marcella: Frantic involvement, developing a different relationship.
- Vera: Language.
- Laura: Trust, new way to observe.
- Yasmeen: Revolutionary.
- Zohar: Creative chaos.
Yasmeen: The use of the voice, less form. Using the skills from dance in relation to the use of space (usually a neutral space), and transferring them to the homes that we live in.
Ari: Independence of the students, sending them on a personal journey and less as a group. Giving the students tools. The lesson could be a platform for sharing discoveries and findings rather than where the actual creative improvisation experience happens. Putting the emphasis on sharing in the zoom meetings.
Laura: Uses contact and touch in classes. She needed to use the nervous system. Usually the skin is another way to observe, and something about the zoom limits the sense of awareness. Worked from inside to outside, making an emphasis on these transitions. At first the space around people was a prison and then it became a support system.
Marcella: Healing meant being creative. Easier to teach a Dance Well class versus a technique class. Took something from the Dance Well classes into the technique class she teaches for younger people who had a hard time with these tasks. She invited the participants from Dance Well to give ideas for the theme of class. Sharing something they participants had been connected to.”The healing happens in the moment when I like something, I give it to someone and then I get it back. I don’t just participate, but I become the leader of the encounter.”
Kim: On zoom it hasn’t been easy. I find myself saying Hold On, Carry On. Keeps our community together, coming home to a little family each time we meet. I never saw myself talking up to the zoom era, now that I see myself on screen I tell myself not to be critical. So the concentration goes in and then to others. In the zoom the concentration is weird for me. Jumping from one another. I’m really glad we’re carrying on. The commitment to the project with Nava has helped.
Marcella: Once I was able to teach on stage (in an empty theatre), it made a difference. When I was feeling better as a teacher, teaching in an open beautiful space, I saw that the other students online were also in a better state of mind.
Ari: The healing is when we manage to bridge between our situation and others. I have a teenager group, we were building a summer camp that was cancelled. Eventually I did 2 zoom sessions that had to do with scores, what is notation? What does it mean to write a performance? Each wrote a score in their own medium, and in the middle of the period I send them to share it with other people. This way, they did a co-production with strangers.
Group 2 Cultural context – Nir Vidan and Anat Bar
How do we contextualize the social/cultural reality?How does each of our social/cultural realities inform the kind of challenges, needs, successes of this past year?
- Giving more time to group spirit, social interaction, and communication around the classes.
- For a non-touch class: using the wall as much as possible, to stand on the feets and still have support without group touch. for zoom – using the squares of the screen as a compositional element.
- Using the distance from the camera, to come closer, to touch.
- Change the perspective of the camera between the exercises – only feets, only hands, to illustrate the physical attention.
- Using music the participants already know, so they complete the rhythm even if they have a bad connection.
- Co-teaching from 2 devices as a way to have feedback about the connection.
- Group teaching – share responsibility, feeling of togetherness as opposition to isolation.
- There is technical help from the theatre at the time of the class.
- Having a continuation of the theme from different places, both homes and public places.
Adapting cultural / social reality> another layer of vulnerability and insecurity.
- In Italy – using the power of monumental commun art spaces, teaching from the theatre, museum, colosseum – having beautiful familiar views, bringing the context of art, giving the sensation of leaving the house and revisiting familiar places that connect people together. *or even teaching the zoom class from the regular studio instead of the teacher’s home. What is the value of that?
- In general – the problem of missing touch as a non verbal social agent. bringing the theme of touch to the zoom, through the camera. touching our own body, imagining touch through the screen, or touching through the air.
- Adding movement to the theoretical class to compensate for the zoom.
Group 3 Setting – Eynav Rosolio
How can we create a setting in the zoom class? What does it mean to be seen in your home environment as teachers and as dancers? (What is the meaning of taking time out for a dance class in the context of isolation?
Orly: Being friendly and engage socially – how can it happen when we don’t share a common space? construct a circle though not sharing the same space.
technology solved by creativity (flipping my Image)
using the background as information rather than distraction.
staying close, by eye contact, by voice. guided imagination sessions. I see you, I hear you.
Skills: articulation and development of new language for dance classes. Approaching the digital as a space, where we can apply choreographic principles to connect to the body and humanity. Activate processes of co-imagination, finding more participative ways to develop and share ideas. Improved knowledge about digital platforms, how they work and how we can use them creatively. The concept of time changed, we had more time to invest in deep conversations, research and investigations, and therefore pay more attention to how we use time.
Michela: Being in touch. What does it mean? I’m sharing the moment with the dancers, so by that I’m in touch with them. Many bodies create a big body which is moving together in reality.
the dancers are moving towards me through the screen, through their eyes.
Roberto: Using the language. Audio lessons. rephrasing a task with an anatomical image. working in couples to keep the teachers in working relations
the digital as a space – as a choreographic space.
Time – deeper process of choosing the words and the music.
orly: Arrive at my own space before the lesson. Project the preparation I do as a suggestion for the dancers. Expand myself in a smaller space and shorter time.
Michela: Audio classes: my voice as the background of their imagination, of their physical space. My voice is the room, and only after my image and the video.
Lee: I was afraid people could be carried away and not be careful with their body.
Simone: I found a big passion during this year. handle people with care much more than in classes in the studio.
Ilaria: Dealing with new frustrations. working in new methods.
Group 4 Inspirations – Sigal Bergman
Where do we find new inspirations for our current artistic practices and the work with communities in time of covid?
- When we are in front of a computer we forget our body – this is a good opportunity to remind ourselves of the body while using the computer.
- Coming back to the basics – what is enough for staying together? going back to basic – breathing together.
- Elena: expending the trust for the participants – they are more independent. Giving encouragement using the language. giving up being right. Irony is a good way to connect.
- Ilaria: using imaginary thought to be wherever we want to be. How to transform a piece of art to a movement score? first as an imagination and then while seeing the art.
- Luisella: How to create the feeling of togetherness when we are not in the same space?
missing many of the toll. Coming back to the basics to create contact. Staying in contact with myself in order to be open to receiving from other people. Preparing myself ahead of time. Online timing is different – you need a perfect score!
- Basics: breath, weight, ask a question ,laughter, rhythmic or nostalgic music, fun, memories – what do they miss? getting back to very precise contact. Being simple Shifting from complexity to essential.
- Less judgment, I was able to try creating within new art forms.
- Everyday life as inspiration. Learning new skills like singing.
- Noticing focus usually on what I see, not what I say. Working on the computer revealed it.
- Inspired by feeling the distance from close ones and closeness.
- Nature became a strong inspiration.
- Reading and hearing lectures online, getting specific info.
- Playing with scale – very close and very far.
- Senses, connecting to what they bring in a new way.
Group 5 Fears and challenges – Shiri Sabah Teicher
What were/are your biggest fears, concerns, challenges, doubts about leading classes in these times?
- I felt angry and depressed. Found myself reading psychology books about positive thinking. I felt that I needed to take care of myself for my students.
- This period has been very strange. When we had several classes face to face I was worried that using our voice would mean spreading germs.
- In Italy we started recording audio classes. It made me become more clear about what I’m teaching and more aware of my voice.
- I had more time at home and I learned how to take more time for myself, to read books and look at art, things which inspired my teaching.
- Our students had technological difficulties. We lost some of them in the classes because of that.
- I found out what an amazing community I have around me.
- The recording of the classes made me more clear in my communication. They were shorter so I had to be more focused.
- Because of the way the zoom is shaped, I became more aware of how I spread my attention between the participants, on what “squares” I spend more time on and why.
- I used the short classes on zoom to work on things I felt were important “Parkinson wise”, because I was concerned about how the situation of staying at home was challenging for them. I found myself taking one theme each class and working within this theme in different ranges.
- One of the biggest challenges was to accept the situation. For example to accept that some people cannot do the classes. That we don’t know how long the situation is going to last.
Conclusion with Monica Gillette:
What thoughts and ideas do you have about future possibilities for teaching dance for people living with Parkinson’s disease? Ideas that were suggested by the participants as concepts and approaches for teaching:
- Range (slow-fast. Happy-sad. Loud quite big-small)
- kinesphere – Laban notion of the personal space around us.
- Change the density and the temperature of the body.
- Distance- proximity.
- Using the objects in the room – the memories around them, the relationship to them.
- Observation and imitation of the given environment.
- A class inspired by connecting the sense of stability – balance through the space between our ears.
- Visible/invisible (what is private and what is public).
- Space – three-dimensional space like a cube or kinesphere.
- Translating concrete skills from outside the class (cooking, planting etc…) to movement research.
- To sink (in the touch, with the gaze, in the proposal….)
- Togetherness and unison: how to be in an asynchronous unison.
- Proportion in the relationship between details and distance.
- Deep listening to music- staying on beat, then keeping the beat in the heart and playing on it with the body.
- To relate to the sense of touch as if we are blind – seeing from inside, like x-ray vision.
- Imaginative world in relation to artwork.
- Be something different, go in a different space.
- Share sensations about artworks.
- Activating awareness about the sense, beyond the 5 more known senses, for example the sense of balance, temperature…
- Take care of a good group spirit through communication between the participants during the lessons and between them.
- Facial movement inspired by beat.
- Unison as a possibility to feel and define the image.
- Anatomy of internal organs as inspiration for movement.
- Play with space, inside and outside the body.
- Everyday life is the greatest inspiration. how I used to use the body in daily life, how to transfer it to dance. I build dances starting from pragmatic elements. How can I sit, stand up or walk around?
- The middle line of the body – dividing the body, in anatomy, in common art/paintings/spiritual concepts of the body, in movement techniques, and finally – in free movement exploration. challenge of coordination, change of body perception.
- Use of images sent in advance to foster imagination.
- The illusion of borders or the possibility of borders.
- Using score work in order to create an opportunity for collaboration: start with a short overview of what is a score, what is a notation of performance etc. Then the participants each write a score (in any medium they like) and send it to me. I give them out randomly to other participants, so it’s like a present – a letter in a bottle from someone else. They work on their interpretation of the score and in the next lesson they share them. So the score itself is a creative “product”, and the interpretation is a sort of collaboration between two strangers.
- Imagination as a background of the class.
- Body image and imagination (what is the size of different parts of the body, how they change when we move and try to dance with an imaginary tail, wings etc..)
- Balancing the relationship between inside and outside through the use of the eyes.
- Reduce the uncertainty of reality by introducing certainty to body and movement.
- How to play with the entanglement of matter and meaning.
- Appear and disappear. Find different ways using your bodies in relation to the screen – find stimulations from choreography tools.
- Physical memories and longings through stories/ pictures/ songs.
- “Live company” – be with the participants in their mental/emotional state.
- Using the relationship between the body’s midline and the room in order to discover a new map.
- Listening session – connect participants to their own space and create a connection from far away. Gives support and presence, as well as connection to the others.
- Working on connection – camera on, focus on the eyes, connect to someone’s eyes. Say hello with your eyes. Using an art piece about a spider web, imagine that from your arms you can create a web that connects you to the room or to someone, someone who is really far, then to everyone that is in class.. we are all connected.
- Animating the space around you.
- Using different qualities of movement in order to “re-map” the space. It is possible to observe the other and discover how different qualities change the space.
- Creating a very specific setting/journey through scores, stick to it until the end and explore it deeply.
- Collecting words from the participants to generate a choreographic score, where the meaning of words can be amplified and expanded.
- Creating scores to do with the family.
- Using two emotions one positive one negative to create movement in relation to a body part.
- Alternating sharing online moments/activities and self-reflective moments/activities outside the digital space and abilitate one-to-one moments for the participants.
- Start with two photos: what I see inside my room and what I see outside my room and use the two photos as the first traces of a choreographic map.
- Rethinking TOUCH
- Concept of independence connected to sharing.
- The presence of the voice.
- Thinking more about the effect of space – theatrical space, outdoors, monuments, known spaces – how that affects the participants.
- Dig into the use of the voice as a tool of proximity.
- You are your own teacher – something to be said, not only thought.
- What is the impact of space in the “digital space” ? How can we take this further in planning classes?
- Rethinking space.
- We are not alone. slow down. basics. inspiration from photos. 5 senses. embracing the daily activity into the class. asking participants to bring their own music.
- Expanding the Range – of ability, of presence.
- Rethinking COMMON space.
- Getting closer to nature even from indoors.
- Not to think about the zoom class as more “simplified” but rather more independent, advanced, shared. All the participants are their own teachers.
- Dancer’s home / studio identities.
- How to integrate the invisible knowledge – what gives us joy or passion in our normal lives and how that can generate energy.
- Understanding the possibility of using the mind to enter other zones.
- Going back to the basics.
- Considering the room’s mind.
- The voice.
- “I’m here”.
- Collective culture.
- The relationship between the brain and sound / sound of the voice as a possibility to re-explore the meaning of touch.
- The use of humor in order to deal with new challenges, Scale, think about the micro and macro. Time is not just now in this moment but also what happened before that can inform the class and what can be after (ex. create a task that can be done with the family). I am here.
- Audio guide – imagination and body- as something you can take on a walk.