Risk – how do we support the experience of Risk in our dance practice?

Risk – how do we support the experience of Risk in our dance practice?


The taking of risks is an interesting subject for us at Attik Dance, in a number of different areas. There is the obvious risk in the physical expression in dance, risk that can result in injury or people getting hurt in a myriad of ways. There is creative risk, where there is a fear of expressing ideas in case people laugh at you and think poorly of you. There is organisational risk, an example being where we at Attik took a big risk in the last National Portfolio Organisation round by presenting a constellated bid with Effervescent. The bid failed and we lost our NPO status, which at the time was deeply disappointing, but in hindsight was the kickstarter of a very exciting time in Attik’s history.


And this is the interesting thing with Risk. If you don’t take some risk in the things you are doing in your life, you won’t ever be able to see your potential. The challenge is to develop your risk taking so that you know both the degree to which you can push yourself without serious injury, and the level of knockback you are prepared to receive to experience risk taking to a level that you can accept.


Lets take as an example a movement you might be doing, and lets say that movement is a big jump where you are trying to get your body as horizontal as possible. Big risk. If you make a mistake, you run the risk of landing flat on your front, and by breaking your fall you run the risk of injuring your wrists and elbows, and if you don’t break your fall, you injure your knees and your face, let alone the rest of you.


So you mitigate the potential of damage in this action. You build up to it. You get your technique right. You get your jump action as good as possible to make sure you are able to get significant height through your jump. You get your body placement so you can hit the position then land as safely as you can. Lots of different actions to train to be safe.


The example above is physical risk. What we have talked about a lot recently is risk in improvisational work, which leads me to creative risk. The risk you take where being self-conscious and stopping yourself from committing to create is born of a fear that people are going to laugh at you for what you have made.


A perfect example of this was our session last night at Attik Youth Dartington. We were exploring movement as conversations, and started creating sounds to go with our movements. The silliness, ridiculousness and comedy of this exercise was astounding, but it took a commitment to risk to do it, because there are few things more frightening than trying to make someone laugh and potentially failing. We spent 3 hours exploring variations of this exercise and it was possibly the funniest 3 hours I have experienced this year. We love this moment of the girls bubbling over with laughter! The risks everyone took paid side-splitting dividends, with the result a 4 minute structured improvisation that was bonkers, brilliant, and unique.


I’m talking about this today as it is our experience that young people are no longer exposed to, or allowed to experience, the kind of risk they need to be able to understand their actions and responses when they are finally exposed to it. The reality of risk taking is that the more you do it, the more you understand it, the more knowledge of yourself in relationship to it you get, and the better you become at knowing when a serious incident, physical or emotional, is about to happen. And through knowing risk the work you are able to perform and create just gets better and better and the way you are able to relate to the world becomes more nuanced and developed. And the understanding of risk is transferable, meaning that understanding risk in dance and in creating has direct use across all areas of life.


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  1. Toluse Farley

    I could not agree more whole heartedly with this sentiment, it is only since taking risks both personally, professionally, financially and physically that my life has become more than just the sun rising and falling, day after day, not all my risks have paid off, nor are they still, but some do. And even the risks that don’t work out the way I had hoped are still a success in the respect that they convey essential lessons that curb future risks making them more and more likely to succeed, the only true failure is not trying!

    Jul 20, 2016 @ 3:11 pm