Monday, November 4, 2013

Breathing Feet: An Intensive with Tara Brandel

Tara Brandel, a talented choreographer and performer did a two week intensive with Propeller Dance. Tara Brandel co-founded Croi Glan, an integrated dance company from Ireland. The experience was really fun and challenging and it helped me push myself as a dancer. We did some really interesting contact improv exercises. Contact improv is a kind of dance improvisation where dancers explore movement starting with the points where their bodies touch. It’s the sensing of the skin with another person. In contact improv, you feel the other person’s skin and you move through the sense of that skin. 

In the first exercise, we did some floor work. We did a rolling exercise where we had two people—one person does the rolling and the other person tries to stop the person who’s rolling with their hands.  When I was doing this exercise I could feel the weight of the other person stopping me. In Propeller I am used to giving weight to another dancer, but this felt different because of the new ways I was moving and because I was focusing on the sensation.  I could really feel the persons touch. I think it helped the company, and it also helped me a lot. For me, it actually made me feel like there are new ways of moving and it made me realize that these other ways of moving can help make my movement vocabulary much larger.

Tara also asked us to do an exercise that worked with memory. In this exercise we were in a circle and we did a movement and we did that movement until we were frozen. Then when we were unfrozen we repeated that motion and then added to that movement phrase, forming a chain of movements.  The accumulation exercise helps your brain and your movement become one, because you remember the movement and then you do that movement with your body.

I left the intensive feeling a lot of warmth. Sometimes the space in the dance studio is cold but as you warm up you find that when you move you become warm. In the intensive with Tara, we warmed each other through physical connection. We also connected emotionally. I felt happy and overjoyed that I made new friends who share the same passion as I do, as I really got to bond with other dancers outside of the company. I also got to deepen my relationships with the other dancers in the company.