This August Motionhouse opened its doors to a group of 17 professionals and dancers in professional training during a week-long intensive exploring the work of Motionhouse. The participants had the opportunity of developing new skills that are specific to our way of approaching partnering and contact work, as well as exploring working on our productions’ sets from some of our indoor and outdoor shows such as “Scattered”, “Captive” and “Underground.”
Led by company members Martina Bussi, Becci Williams and rehearsal director Junior Cunningham, the week aimed to give the participants an insight into professional company life , with the specific focus on how our dancers train for the particular skills required to deliver and sustain our highly physical work.
Each morning started with a conditioning workout followed by a technique class and carried on with a session focusing on contact improvisation and partnering skills.
The afternoons were dedicated to learning Repertoire and how to integrate this with the use of the sets and the partnering skills acquired.
Company member Martina created the highlights video above and captured the images you’ll see below. Looking back at the week she says:
“Professional intensives are a great opportunity to get an insight into the professional world and get a first hand experience of how each company approaches its work and its dedicated specific training. I remember attending a few of those when I was in training myself and it really gave me a head start into what to expect from my performing career and how to inform my training in order to overcome my weaknesses and enhance my strengths.
For some of the participants we have met it was all about getting more physically ready for the demands of the work, improving their physical fitness, especially regarding their upper body strength which is crucial for pretty much every Motionhouse’s piece. Others needed to work on their ability to pick up and retain material more quickly, or focus on how to develop given repertoire in order to perform it with more embodiment and awareness.
Of course each dancer comes with different areas they want to push themselves on and we have tried, as much as possible, to address these needs and advise them about what the next step could be in other to achieve better results.
Having a full week gives you a chance to take the participant through a journey and really allows the intensity of the work to challenge them in ways that only working professionally would. It’s about pushing the boundaries of what they think they can achieve, and to some extent physically sustain, that drives them forward and, in some cases, changes their mind set and commitment to the training.
I always find these workshop weeks a really nourishing process for ourselves as well. Teaching gives you a chance to continuously re-think the way you move in order to explain to others concepts that might be natural to you, or that you have developed over time. It is crucial that you are able to communicate clearly your focus and the emphases you want to stress upon, so it is a continuous journey of discovering what works and what doesn’t, depending on your audience. The relationship between movement, imageries and the way you verbally comunicate a direction is something I am really interested in, so practicing teaching is a way of further developing these skills and gaining more insight into the practice.
Teaching Repertoire is also a chance for us to look back at some of our works and their creative process, finding new ways of explaining the way we approach certain areas of the performance. It is a great way of refreshing our approach to the work because makes us rediscover some of the nuances that might have been lost with performing it overtime.
All in all I think it was a very nourishing and fun week for all involved. We have already made plans for some of the participants to come and spend some time with us during the rehearsal for our upcoming tour of “Scattered”. After putting them through their paces, I am sure it will be a great revenge for them to see us struggling through our tough rehearsals!”