Jungyeon Kim and Anastasia Kostner provided a series of contemporary dance workshop for the department of music pedagogy in Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main. The aim was to support becoming music teachers to establish a more creative environment in classroom and empower artistic development of pupils particularly through movement and dance activities. The first intensive workshop of 12 hours took place in October 2011, the second block in May 2012 and the third in October 2012. Invited participants were both music teachers and students of music pedagogy.
Language of the Body
Contemporary dance made its breakthroughs from classical ballet and modern dance since 1960s, and holds its liberating viewpoint. In contemparary dance, dance is seen as a language of its own, free from any symbolic or representive functions, of which primary instrument being the body. Any movement can be seen as dance, and movement vocabulary isn’t bound to certain styles of dance.
In the workshop we proposed an understanding of movement based on Laban Movement Analysis and explored three components of movement – space, weight and time – through improvisation and dance composition. The participants explored specific parameters, such as direction of movement, heavy or light use of the body, and guidance of vocal and percussive sounds to suggest dynamics and rhythm of movement.
The creative process, as well as the resulting dances astonished the participants; more so, because there was no one who taught ‚the steps’. Seeing dance as a language of its own, they were invited to discover resources that have already been within them. A sense of connection between the movers arose not necessarily through underlying narrative, but through spatial and temporal dialogue between them.
Whole Person Engagement
Art teachers know how crucial it is to engage pupils as whole persons in artistic practice. When our physical, mental and emotional selves are all busy in a creative flow of alertness and involvement, we are able to go beyond our usual range of expression, bypass inhibitions and invite shifts to occur. Throughout the workshop we brought improvisation tasks to explore modes of engagement and to observe how the presence of a person can vary.
One of the activities in the workshop is called ‚flocking’. The group moves as a flock, first walking around the room, then gradually involving more complex movements as they arise. The challenge is to maintain the movement as unison without pre-set materials. As the activity continues, the group arrives in a state that one is increasingly aware of the own body as well as of the other movers around. Once one overcomes the concern of what is right or wrong, one readily rides the flow of movement of the group, while the sense of individuality becomes even stronger. The resulting dance is visually speaking and dynamically surprising.
Contemporary dance, in its effort to diminish the invisible wall between audience and stage, between real life and theater, often presents dancers as persons, bringing forth their individuality. Contemporary dance training, therefore, employs methods and strategies to explore stage presence of performers and foster performers’ both physical readiness and perceptual openness. These methods, in which one’s movement ability is less important than one’s awareness and readiness for action, can support pupils in music lesson to perceive the presence of their bodies, to understand the performative reality in music, as well as to grow their confidence in making individual choices.
Crossing the Divides
“I learned something that I would like to bring into my musical practice; shifting mode, creating contrast, fast change between different dynamics in music.“ – a participant
Through the workshop, we confirmed our belief that creative engagement doesn’t have borders between disciplines. Different art forms, when drawing on sources from each other, can discover new possibilities to educate, that reflect the wholeness of a creative person and invite more means of creative expression.
We will continue our work on bridging between contemporary dance and music education. We hope that there will be more chances that we and other dance artists can exchange and work with music educators in schools, universities or community-settings. And hopefully there will be more administrative support for exchanges between different art disciplines, to bring resources together into further experiments and researches.
Jungyeon Kim, Anastasia Kostner
June 2012 Frankfurt am Main