The Regional Dance Centre of Eastern Finland (ITAK) hosted a 3-day ‘Beyond Technique – searching for authenticity’ workshop series at the Särkiniemen toimintakeskus / Activity Centre of Särkiniemi in Kuopio.
Dance Integrated Australia’s Creative Director, Philip Channells worked alongside ITAK’s Artistic Director, Tomi Paasonen who assisted him as a translator throughout the project which was attended by 34 participants, some who had never taken a dance workshop before. Participants gained an understanding of disability-inclusive dance practice while practicing methods for generating self-devised authentic starting points for choreographic practice.
People with all different physicalities, (many wheelchair users and people with disability), non-trained & hobby dancers, student & professional dancers, arts workers and staff at the Särkiniemi attended this course which predominantly provided people an opportunity to have fun while learning new skills and experiences in dance. There were no formal outcomes expected – no studio showing with lights, costumes and audience, which allowed the creative process to be open and fluid and for the dancers to shift the direction of the work throughout each day.
Throughout all three days many opportunities were provided the group to show each other small montages which derived from simple exercises, improvisations and structured creative tasks including developing duet and group work based on all the participant’s sign language names. For the dancers that were not used to physical touch, many of the activities provided a new experience which helped develop trust, confidence and focus throughout the day.
Across the three days, there were several brief discussions about the expectations of some of the participants and how this work had had such an impact It created a space for people to open up and be bold to try out new things. Many of the staff of the Särkiniemi were at first a little shy, embarrassed or unsure of what to do as were some of the dancers, and when you looked around the room there was often a person moved to tears at the sheer joy of having been touched by something totally unexpected – something they witnessed in someone that had changed or developed. By the third day they all commented that they had had a lot of fun and learned news ways to work with each other.
In my experience, there are fundamental similarities in teaching dance to anyone, whether they have experience or not. What I try to do is to learn how to listen to people, to understand their different body language, but always challenge people to step over their personal comfort zone and most importantly… have lots of fun. Philip Channells
Here’s what Tomi had to say about the workshops…
Mr Channells worked with simple task-based instructions relating to touch, gravity, composition, rhythm and space, through which he was able to open the participant’s minds and bodies to let their individuality shine through. Due to the simplicity the group energy took us through several strong emotions, ranging from ecstatic fun to sensitive tears. For many this workshop opened new thoughts about the possibilities of physical expression. Tomi Paasonen (Regional dance centre of Finland, Artistic Director)
To learn more about ITAK (in English) click here.
This project was supported by DansiT – Senter for Dansekunst i Sør-Trøndelag.
Photo: Tomi Paasonen