What’s most interesting to me is how Philip used really precise methods to address what we thought as our shortcomings or strengths and include them as part of the performance. We realised that the most captivating performances often comes from the things that are the most private to us, things which we see as imperfect and avoid to confront or in Philip’s words, if you can perform with ‘integrity’ that’s already a very good show. Asahi Bruce Lui (Hong Kong)

I really enjoyed to be in a group of artists that’s really diverse because normally I sort of work by myself or I’m the only person with a disability or in a wheelchair. For me it was really great to be in an environment where there’s so many different sorts of people all coming together and working really well together. I really enjoyed the dynamics and how it all molded together. Lauren Watson (Gold Coast)

What worked well was getting people to be themselves and tell their story. No Actions considered silly. Philip makes you feel very relaxed but energises you. Thank you. What I liked most about the workshop was the lack of pretentions. I was put at ease very quickly. Gail Stebbings (Bundanon Local – 60+ Performance project)

I realised that as a ‘retired’ dancer, there can be no such thing. Dance continues to illuminate my life on a richer level now than from my performing days. Dance has the power to communicate with the inner Divine, and also to integrate and express past hurts that can be released in an art form, sharing a life experience with others. Only remnant is a strange waft of beauty. Kevin English (Cairns)

For me The Corner Dance Lab (TCDL) was a reminder that as dancers we have the capacity to reach out and connect with each other in these fantastically weird and wonderfully abstracted ways. It was great to be fantastically weird and wonderfully abstracted in a highly creative and inclusively jam filled week of explosive and quiet dance. As a facilitator it was really nice to stretch myself out and share my growing practice with others, both participators and facilitators. TCDL provided a safe platform for me to articulate elements of my practice that would otherwise have remained internal directives only. This sharing allowed me to receive feedback and insight into what I do in a way that can’t really be done when you’re standing alone in the studio. Phil Blackman (Independent artist)

“First can I say that just arriving there last night I felt privileged that this was happening in our little church. I really tuned in on how special it was and I am so grateful that you have given so much of your energy to make it happen. The show was very inspiring. Daniel’s authenticity and courage were humbling and the narrative was very powerful… and is still sinking in. There was no reserve, no sense of holding back, rather the sense that he gave all he had to give… and I really felt like I “got it”. Bravo Daniel and well done Philip. A mention also to the musician – beautifully present and sensitive to the moments they unfolded.” Darren Gallant (Federal resident)

I was mesmerised by the performance. It was intriguing, arresting, thought provoking and incredibly moving. And a privilege to hear some of Daniel’s secrets. To know someone’s deepest, darkest thoughts – particularly ones that were so life changing for him – creates an incredible intimacy. Like you actually connected with the performer as opposed to simply watching him. Veda Dante, Journalist

“I appreciated the detailed structures of both the whole workshop and created performances. Some integrated dance is done in North Carelia. Still I see a clear need for more. There are dance professionals in North Carelia who could benefit Philips work. It would be nice to continue with more colleagues involved.” Elina Ikonen (Director, Islo Education in Dance and Somatics, Finland)

I loved the way you challenged people to use what they have instead that they would have concentrated to and mourned about things they can’t do or don’t have. Thus every one came to be, just as they were, a part of the group, dance and mutual movement. You gave each freedom to move from our own starting point and it made moving meaningful and fun to each of us. Becoming one group happened exceptionally quickly. Outi Martikainen (Honkalampi-center, Finland)

“I learned so much, I don’t know where to begin. I learned a lot from watching Philip work. How he challenged people, yet saw them and supported them. How he pushed, but cared. I learned a lot about working with different people and different bodies and how to let everybody contribute. I also learned a lot about myself and both my strengths and weaknesses. I learned about communication, organization and what it actually takes to make a group work together. The workshops were also very inspiring for me, and a great experience when it comes to working with children.” Maria Terese Høgåsen Kittilsen (Norwegian School of Sport Sciences student)

I just wanted to say thank you so, so much! It was such a pleasure to work with you. I think you are a genuinely amazing person. I´m so happy that I had the opportunity to join this project. And I thank you for letting me drop back into the project after going away. It was a fantastic experience to be a part of this process. It really changed and affected the way I think about what I do. Lately I have been thinking a lot about what I do, thinking that dance is not so important or that there are many things in a world that are more important than dance.

But the “PERFECT (im)PERFECTIONS” materializes, and I see how important it is both for audience and participants. I have learned a lot. I´m really impressed with how you work with people, how you can be definite, compromising, uncompromising, funny, strict, structured, relaxed, all at the same time…It has been so inspiring, and a great learning experience. I hope we can work together again. Svetlana Stokke (independent artist, Norway)

“My week started with the first part of the workshop with adult dancers. I was previously unfamiliar with integrated dance and my dance experience is with belly dancing so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As I first arrived at studio C4 at Zodiak (for Beyond Technique – searching for authenticity), I was nervous to say the least. However, within a very short amount of time I felt relaxed, comfortable and excited to see what we could create. The atmosphere created by Philip (Channells) and our group of dancers was supportive and inspiring. I found the different exercises and ways of working incredibly inspirational and was thrilled to realise (even more than before) that dance really could be for everyone! The next part of the workshop would be working with kids and I think that our first two days prepared me very well for what was to come. Being familiar with the process and knowing what amazing choreographies could be created from seemingly simple exercises, I was able to talk to the children and adults at the school about what to expect. I feel I was perhaps better able to guide the children in their process because I had also had the experience of being completely new to this way of dancing. At the end of the workshop I was blown away by how beautifully all the dancers had performed, and delighted to see how much the children enjoyed dancing and expressing themselves through movement.

As I work with many of the kids that participated in the workshop, at first I found it somewhat difficult to hang onto my role as a dancer. Once I settled into being a part of the workshop, though we were at my place of work, I could really focus on what was happening. Seeing how well our young dancers worked with people they didn’t previously know and how quickly some came out of their shells was astonishing. I couldn’t stop smiling! Because developing children’s academic and life skills is what we need to focus on at school, we don’t often get to see our students in a completely different environment. For me, being able to watch students’ interactions and ways of self-expression, gives priceless insight into their person. The workshop has definitely given me new ideas I’d like to include in my work. It’s also confirmed my belief in how much children can accomplish when given the time and opportunity.” Emmi Spännäri (teacher’s assistant, Finland)

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for inviting me to be part of the Catalyst Masterclasses. I learnt so much from assisting but most importantly being involved in the work at the same time being introduced and observing how you work with everyone in the room whilst creating a performance (in such little time). Amazing! Also, what a treat is was to be there when you were talking about Integrated Dance with the camera… Thank you, you have really had a strong influence in opening my vision and where I once may have thought there were limitations are only more opportunities. It’s beautiful. I’ve been very spoilt. Katina Olsen (independent artist, JUMP mentee)

“Residencies like Beyond Technique are a wonderful forum for people to find their own voices, to inform their practice and share ideas. Living together created a space where we were able to really get to know each other and had time to share our thoughts. Time went quickly though and it felt like there was potential to have more time, to talk more, dance more and push the boundaries of integrated dance.” Lyn Cotton (Artistic Director Jolt Dance, New Zealand)

Philip Channells and I have been working together for the past three years to further foster and develop integrated dance in NSW. Philip’s commitment to the sector is fueled by strategy, passion and expertise and he works tiresomely to ensure quality standards and professional exchange. Over this time Philip has worked closely with Accessible Arts as a consultant of integrated arts practices, a workshop facilitator, master teacher and choreographer Philip takes a creative and enthusiastic approach to all his work and is a team player.  Philip and I have developed a strong and driven partnership and look froward to continuing to create opportunities, bring systemic change and break down the barriers for dancers with disabilities in NSW and beyond. The time is ripe and the wheels are in motion and we are ready to dance dance dance. Sarah-Vyne Vassallo (Arts Development Officer, Accessible Arts)

“I first met Philip at the NSW Dance Symposium in 2011. Having the opportunity to take one of his classes, was undoubtedly a pinnacle in my life as an emerging integrated dancer. It was one of those afternoons, you realize the work you are meant to be doing, the skills that are yet to be recognized and unleashed, dreams unheralded and the possibility for the future. Since that time, I have worked with Philip as a dancer and assistant choreographer at the Australian Youth Dance Festival and Accessible Arts, Catalyst Dance Masterclass Series. Each of these experiences, I have learnt all the more within his creative processes; of which are extensive, clear, open and dynamic. The flexibility that comes with working alongside Philip, are boundless within the artistic vision that is posed. It is this flexibility and acceptance of the people he is working with, that makes his works interesting and excel into realms yet to be touched. Philip has been a true inspiration for me and I am extremely grateful to have had such an impassioned mentor in this wonderful field of dance.” Chanel Leaudais (independent artist)

I have had the pleasure of working with Philip on three dance productions during his time as Artistic Director at Restless Dance Theatre and as a member of Restless’ Education Team; I have assisted him in leading workshops.
He tutored me through Restless’ tutor training program, ‘Dot to Dot’ where I have learned to confidently lead classes and workshops, emulating people management skills and leadership techniques I learned from Philip. Philip is in every way a professional and is very passionate about integrated dance. Whatever his role, whether as a director of a production, a leader of a workshop, or a tutor, or lecturer, I always feel confident and competent under his leadership. Philip is a lot of fun to work with and a very loving person. He takes his profession very seriously, especially relating to time management. I’ve never known anyone more in control. He is straight to point and you will always know where you stand with him. In the short time that I have known Philip, he has become a very strong role model to me and I consider him to be a mentor. I can say with conviction that Philip has sparked, inspired and nurtured my journey into the discovery of dance and the development of my career as a dance artist. I attribute his guidance to the successes I have accomplished so far; in my short time I have been a dancer. Matt Shilcock (JUMP emerging artist)

An excerpt of the Artist in in Residence Evaluation 2009-2010 publication by Mary Ann Hunter.

This is a project snapshot of my work in regional South Australia for Restless Dance Theatre.

Hi Philip,
I am finally getting round to giving you some feedback on Restless Dance Theatre’s work with our students over the past 2 terms. … To be honest, when the project began, I really didn’t know what expectations I had … the creative dance that Restless offered, was a whole new experience. After the first few sessions, I became aware that our students (and staff) were moving into somewhat unknown waters and were being challenged in many ways. Creativity, self-confidence, teamwork, thinking ‘out of the square’ and self discipline needed developing as well as specific dance skills, knowledge and fitness. By the end of Term 4, 2009, all students at RSS had had the opportunity to be involved in the dance sessions and all had had the opportunity to give their own feedback. As you are aware, almost all the students had positive feedback to give – even those who chose not to be involved in future sessions. The vast majority of students were enthusiastic about continuing their involvement and when Restless sent the lists of selected students for Term 1 2010, 30 students (including 3 students in wheel chairs) were given the opportunity to use the skills they had learnt, in a major performance.

Once again, I found it difficult to imagine how this diverse group of young people, with a wide variety of skills and abilities (including intellectual and some physical ‘diffabilities’) could be moulded into a dance troupe to perform at the Chaffey Theatre.

Then I sat in on a couple of sessions. What I saw amazed me. Students who had been self conscious and hesitant were overcoming their nerves and were ‘coming out of their shells’. Students with ‘attitude’ were learning the importance both of self discipline and of listening closely to the choreographer/director! Leaders were emerging and some were quite unexpected. Students in wheelchairs were able to express themselves just as effectively as the others – both in and out of their chairs. These young people of all physical sizes, shapes and abilities were metamorphosing into dancers! …

Then the performance itself; I thought I knew what to expect but again it was even beyond my expectations. (It chokes me up to even write this.) We were all so proud, so blown away, so amazed! I know there were many tears of joy and pride shed by the parents and friends in the audience. It was a triumph! Philip you wanted them to reach the roof and they did – in fact they blew it off! … You turned an idea into a dream and a dream into a remarkable reality. Your knowledge, skills, experience and above all your vision and your high expectations have helped to create something truly wonderful and inclusive. Like the rest of the audience, I will never forget the performance of 29th March and I know our young dancers will carry the memories of their success and from the ground up with them for the rest of their lives.

Highest regards,
Peter Andrews and Carolyn Trifonoff / Co Principals Riverland Special School
PS We must ensure that this is only the beginning of RSS’ involvement with dance and theatre!

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