Sunday, April 04, 2010

In case you're wondering what you missed at the workshop last Thursday....

Overcoming Choreographer’s Block – April 1, 2010
A Workshop Review by Jaki Hawthorne

My body aches to the core. It’s the good kind of ache. You know, the kind you get from doing something you love, with people you love, until you are about to drop from exhaustion… and then you do it some more. Get your mind out of the gutter, people! I’m talking about DANCING!

Joanna Brooks of Brooks & Company Dance ( offered up an amazing opportunity to help choreographers with the dreaded Choreographer’s Block… cue dramatic film noir music!

Choreographer’s block is a mentally paralyzing phenomenon which all choreographers experience at one time or another. You create something and you open a door, and with every opening there is bound to be a close…a point at which you just can’t create for a while. It may be just a moment, or maybe a day, perhaps a month or sometimes much longer. The workshop was designed to give you tools to re-open the door to your creative process. The workshop was guided by Staci Scaturro from Orlando, Florida, a 15-veteran of dance choreography and founder of the company Soul Play Modern Dance.

Staci was enthusiastic, inspiring and very real. Her genuine love of dance and quiet way of making you feel welcome in her class, no matter what your experience level, was something to be cherished. She doesn’t take herself too seriously and, speaking for myself, that’s something of great value to find in any kind of instructor.

The class was 9 or 10 dancers of unknown levels…I loved that Staci did not have anyone spouting off their experiences and yeeeeeeeaaaaaaars of dance training… and we just played (yes, played!) for about 3 hours. With varying degrees of guidance, we used props, visual imagery, music, and spoken word to create mini compositions.

One of my favorite games was the 4-corner “Soul Play” where each designated wall of the room had a different station of activity. One corner was the toy box with silly, found objects from the space. Another was a wall for contact improvisation using the wall in as many ways as your brain could conceive. A third was a long list of locations for you to play around with literal and abstract ideas about movement inside a volcano, or on a rollercoaster, or at the Louvre... In between each station was a directive such as to move in a masculine way, or only on the floor, or super slow motion, etc. It was quite something to behold a room full of dancers creating movement with completely unique motivations, and yet it still could have been a composition as a whole.

Yesterday was a revisit to a part of my roots that I had thought was quite forgotten. For me, it was a trip back in time to the world of modern dance. And a joyful and wonderful trip it was. Thank you Joanna Brooks and Staci Scaturro for a unique journey and a bag full of tricks to help break the cycle of the closed, creative door.

On a separate note: My girls from Jahara Phoenix were awe inspiring. Several of them stepped so far outside of their box that there is no longer a box! I was genuinely moved by their willingness to experience movement far beyond their comfort zone and to open up and accept whatever is tossed into the dance mix. Amazing!

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