TEACHING STATEMENT and PHILOSOPHY

Overview:

My teaching focuses in the understanding of the INNER STRUCTURE of the body and the complex interplay between all systems (nervous, vascular, digestive, endocrine, emotional and psychological) of the body/mind. This training supports the entire internal developmental process—from an initial concept, intuition or vision through the desire to find a performative language.

Teaching Experience and background:

I have developed this unique training for dancers and performers over years of making my own works as a dancer, choreographer and improvisational artist. The practice of Chi Kung (cultivating energy) that has been the most influential to my teaching is the system taught by Mantak Chia . I've done this work with developmentally disabled, mentally ill and deaf-blind individuals as well with professional performers and specialists in somatic practices, psychology and neuroscience.

My research of the body and movement has brought me to the study of architecture, neuroscience, linguistics and psychology. It has compelled me to travel form Europe to India, and ultimately to the United States. It has led me to Chi Kung and the Martial Arts. My work is the result of a deep exploration of the dynamic between three cultures: European / Asian / American.

My approach to teaching has three major levels. These levels are essential to each other. They comprise a system that students can gradually integrate for their own purposes and visions. I aim to provide dancers with 1- the essential principles in which the body can generate and store energy for sustaining and nourishing the developing individual; 2- A framework that supports an intuitive exploration of the dynamic between internal and external kinesthesia; 3- A broad cultural context that can feed critical and analytical reflection.

 

LEVEL 1 (STRUCTURAL ALIGNMENT)

This part of my training focuses on the structure (skeleton and tendons) of the body. The foundation of the structural focus is the alignment of the body and its relation to gravity. These principles are put into practice by means of a system of exercises. These excises include deep release of the abdominal and visceral area with breathing and a simple succession of postures that allow the practitioner to progressively let go of extra tensions and activate the energy centers.

As a result of this practice:

- The tendons and psoas muscle soften and strengthen, enhancing an ease of connection between head, neck, back and limbs.

- The nervous system relaxes and the individual can access the core of the body as well as the energy centers, gradually generating a sense of buoyancy.

Once the student has understood the structural principles of these exercise, they can be easily applied to any kind of movement or situation.

 

LEVEL 2 (INTUITIVE EXPLORATION BETWEEN INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL) 

I have developed a framework for forming an intuitive and individual understanding of the correlation between the organs, senses, emotions, and our orientation in the space that surrounds us. This framework provides a powerful tool for improvisation and composition.

This part of the training takes the student into a deep exploration of the links between one’s most intimate perception of self, others, and the environment. It is an efficient tool for helping performers understand impetus and initiation of movement. I believe that the understanding of this initiation of movement is key for avoiding patterns that can, in the long run, create injuries or "stylization-versus-artistic-intention" conflicts. For me, developing the freedom to initiate movement from a great range of possibilities allows a performer to boundlessly expand her/his artistic vision. Students will learn to discern how movement is initiated from kinesthesia, energetics, and emotions; and how to navigate these discernments in order to create a language of their own that serves their vision.

 

LEVEL 3 (CROSS-DISCIPLINARY AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY)

The third level focuses on contextualizing the creation of work within a cultural awareness. For me, the act of dancing is a form of thinking that has its own logic. Within this logic the attuned dancer becomes a vector for the embodiment of our time. To create relevant work it is essential to understand how it takes place in a historical continuum, not only within one’s native culture but also in relation to the history of other cultures. In order to create choreography I find it necessary to draw upon developments, events and disciplines outside the restrictive frame of dance. I believe it is vital for young artists to be curious and to cultivate their curiosities by being exposed to diversity. Discussion is an important part of my teaching. I believe that the externalization of an experience begins by searching for its articulation. I encourage a cross-disciplinary fluency. This is crucial for ‘internal alchemy’ as I practice it. I find it helpful to cast the most internal experience into a contrastive context or culture in a way that reveals the experience in a new light. For instance, activating T-cells with Chi Kung, linking emotion, movement and phonation to hormonal secretion, considering the "livingness" of a performance in relation to the cognitive science of Francisco Varela, finding what it means to be before an audience on stage by reading the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty, or deepening one’s sense of orientation in space by spending time in an architectural work by Le Corbusier, Renzo Piano, Steven Holl or Samuel Mockbee.

While living in Europe, I taught in universities where we were engaged students from the architecture, visual arts and performance departments at once. I would love to call together this form of exchange once again, as it always proved to be extremely fruitful. As a choreographer I am a deeply committed collaborator. This collaborative aspect is essential to my work. For the past fifteen years I have collaborated the American poet-architect Robert Kocik. Together we have generated texts, expositions, installations, buildings, sets, performance series, conferences, choreographies (of course), and new aesthetic science called The Prosodic Body.

 

SUMMARY

The combination of these three approaches creates a structural and intuitive approach for making choreographic and performance works. This approach focuses in on the way in which one inhabits one’s body, as it constantly zooms out to view one’s situation in the total cultural landscape. It is a reflection on the ways we inhabit our bodies through movement and voice. It provides an awareness of the dynamic between energy that is stored and energy that is spent (crucial for survival), whether the energy is physical, intellectual, emotional or spiritual. With this approach the students learn how to develop their connection to the core body and to trust their choices. My training is integrative-- involving research in a panoply of disciplines and cultures, stressing the importance of reading, writing and speaking in understanding oneself as a vector of our times, fusing past and future in one’s very works.

As a teacher I am deeply committed to the creation of a Space of Possibilities for the people I work with.