At Attik Youth Dance Company my intention is to coach individual dancing people. Rather than just focus on training bodies I am trying to find ways to help them to construct and create their own creative strategies. They can then harness these strategies with their own body’s capacity for movement in response to discussion and in relationship with others to create choreographies. Recently the company made a work called “I was there, but now I’m here.” It started from a discussion we had at a company rehearsal at the beginning of the year about the refugee crisis, which led us to discuss human rights. What are our rights? What are our needs? And are those ideas universal?
Now I have to stop here and explain that when I say discuss I mean an ongoing verbal and physical exploration of the ideas over months of company rehearsals. Where we uncover our thoughts about a topic by setting tasks such as; write a list of your human rights, and then deliver that speech through action. Or I challenge them to develop a task to give other members of the company which express one of their ideas about rights.
This sort of creative freedom needs clear direction from me to allow them to have the possibility to form their own ideas and direction when they want to and at other times take a bit more control to model ways that a creative idea can be expressed through discussion and choreography. This process of empowering the young people is a learning journey that each of them are on. Often in company rehearsals I get asked the question, “But how do I do that?” to tasks or challenges that I know that they can do.
The fear of not getting it right seems to be the first problem they face. In my practice there is no right or wrong, there is just the expectation that they will try and bravely bring themselves to the challenges I set them. British choreographer, Royston Maldoom, suggests that everyone has the desire to be excellent. In an interview in the book, Knowledge in Motion, he talks about his work with community groups in Germany where the common denominator in all of the sessions is getting over the participant’s fear of failure. In our practice at Attik Dance, in all of the work that we do, we expect that people can do brilliant things. We tell them that- the primary school kids, the youth offenders and the gifted and talented young people in our youth companies- we create a culture where they know that, we expect them to do extraordinary things. In this kind of environment we watch people thrive and create and have the courage to own their ideas, their bodies and their creativity.
It is an incredibly rewarding and exciting way of working! -Sophie
Catch the short promo of Attik Youth Dance Company here
The ideas from Royston Maldoom came from ‘Working on Experience’ Royston Maldoom in dialogue with Edith Boxberger (2007). In: Gehm, S. Pirkko, H. & von Wilcke K. (eds.) ’Knowledge in Motion. Perspectives of Artistic and Scientific Research.’ Die Deutsche Bibliothek, pp. 299-306