Thinking physically with ... Loreen
In the "Thinking physically with ..." series the teachers of the TTP project were asked to reflect upon the projects topic and their experience with the group.
In todays episode you can read what Loreen has to say. She taught Ballet to the TTP participants and is co-creating the final performance with the group.
Loreen Fajgel teaches Ballet at Sozo visions in motion. She was born in Zimbabwe and studied at the Royal Ballet School in London. After working as a dancer with various choreographers, founding a company and co-founding a musical theater in Kassel she is now working as a freelance teacher and choreographer.
This project is called “TTP – Thinking Together Physically“
What do you understand by “thinking physically“ ?
First of all, I find it important to realise that the brain is not an entity by itself, but part of the body, which is equally important to the brain. Too often in education greater emphasis is placed on abstract thought than on physical action, instead of realising that the brain and the body function together and need each other. How can a poet write a poem without using the body? How can a carpenter build a table without the use of the brain? This divorce between abstract thought and physical movement needs to be bridged. So my interpretations of physical thought begins by exploring an abstract thought with the body, analysing emotions or impulses and translating them into physical movement.
How did you plan to approach this idea in your classes?
About half of the group had never taken part in a ballet class. My approach was therefore to provide introduction to foreign movement to experience other movement patterns and combinations. I will use this metaphor as a link to the importance of an open mind towards differing opinions or foreign cultures.
The professional dance world can be a competitive and hierarchical place.
What do you think a ballet class has to offer to create a feeling of “togetherness”? Which aspects of this genre/field could challenge this feeling of “togetherness”?
The traditional ballet world is indeed highly competitive. My intent in teaching is that learning dance in a class with others should not be viewed as a competitive race, but rather as an opportunity to share a common discipline and motivate one another to achieve new levels of technical ability. Praise is an important part of teaching - progress should be noted and commented on. Jealousy or rivalry arises when a teacher favours certain pupils over others, or fails to grant each participant equal attention and opportunity. My aim is not to uphold perfect technique as an ideal, but rather to use ballet as a tool to discover new physical possibilities and broaden the range of movement.
You gave 4 ballet classes to the participants of the project.
What was your main focus? What did you want to share with them? What should they experience?
This was partially answered in the previous question. A ballet class provides great scope for training perception - of the available space, understanding of personal ability and challenges and a constant awareness of the others in the class; their whereabouts and my relation in space to them. I therefore placed an emphasis on finding equally spaced lines in the centre, or in the timing of jumps from alternating diagonals across the room. While mastering a new combination, the dancers also learn to be aware of others moving simultaneously in the same space, thus learning confidence in movement and respect for others learning the same. I wanted to introduce them to the beauty of grace within classical movement and to the concept that the entire body contributes to creating classical forms. Every person in the class should experience a moment of exhilaration - this should apply to each and every dance class, not only to ballet.
You worked together with a dance student from SOZO who assisted you in the classes.
Do you think this contributed to the idea of the project? If so, how?
I worked with Lucy, who demonstrated the exercises and contributed warm-up sequences and games. Her warm-up encouraged the participants to discover the possibilities of their joints, while the games trained perception. One game in particular was very popular: the dancers were asked to improvise and then choose a secret partner. The movements of the secret partner were then either mirrored or incorporated into the improvisation, which encouraged the dancers to accept and attempt to learn someone else’s movement choices.
During the 4 times you worked with the participants:
which changes regarding physicality and group dynamic did you witness?
The group began to get to know each other. One opportunity for group discussion provided an interesting exchange of thoughts. The group as a whole is eager to learn and communicate.
Do you see a connection between the physical changes and the changes in the group dynamic?
I am convinced that the opportunity to learn dance forms with strangers broke the ice far more quickly than would otherwise have been possible.