An introduction from the teachers who will lead Festival intensives...

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Intensive with Steve Batts

About the Intensive

The Art of Jamming

In this workshop we will consider the joys and challenges of “jamming”. I will introduce my own approach to jamming. I hope that offering my particular frame, developed through quite long experience, will give some ground for each person to become more conscious of the issues in jamming. The intention of the workshop is to stimulate critical and compositional interest and awareness, not to give a formula. There aren’t any universally applicable rules, strategies or prescriptions but developing, as an individual, an enriched perception of the jam as a compositional event can energise the collective creative process of jamming for everyone. This approach can also address, indirectly, some of the common issues around jamming such as: “I find it difficult to enter”; “I get bored”, “I always dance with the same people”, “experienced people never dance with me”, “I feel exploited”, “I don’t have enough skill”, “I don’t know what to do”, “Why do I enjoy some jams and not others?”, “How do I know whether what I’m doing is ok for others?”, “I keep getting injured”... etc.

Generally, I understand a “jam” to be a collective event, with its own compositional time, space and presence, rather than a series of private interactions. I consider a jam, generally, to be a compositional event in which all the participants are both audience and performer, all the time. Because of this I find it most important to pay ongoing attention to what the changing content and tone of the jam is, and to make a disciplined effort to understand it. This attention and effort is the basis on which intuitively compositional movement proposals are made as one moves from watching to dancing, from more distant to closer proximity, from solo to duet, from duet to group.

In the intensive we will do individual and collective processes which are aimed at disciplining, deepening and refining the quality of our watching. We will pay attention to preserving a resonant, enquiring disposition. In each class we will focus on watching how different compositional elements appear and notice how watching for particular elements helps in seeing and understanding the overall composition. The themes will include vertical space, horizontal space, proximity, disposition, phrasing, directive movement/adaptive movement. We will do a lot of jamming which will include dancing, watching, dancing-while-watching, and watching-while-dancing.

The workshop welcomes people with any level of experience in Contact Improvisation.

About Steve Batts

I have been practicing and teaching Contact Improvisation for around thirty five years and a certified teacher of The Alexander Technique for thirty. The practice of and ideas around these disciplines have been, and remain, central to my artistic, teaching and organising work. I perform, create and teach internationally. I work with professional dancers, performers and musicians and with non-professionals. My practice includes work with people of all ages and all abilities.

Since 1991 I have been Artistic Director of Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company.

In recent years I have been developing, with the support of the dancers of the Echo Echo Ensemble, an approach to dance which I term “Poetic Movement”. This attempts to offer an alternative perspective to the hyper-objectivising of dancers in mainstream contemporary dance and the hyper-subjectivising of the dancer in the somatically based alternatives.

I use a broad definition of Contact Improvisation which I hope respects the tradition, and current and historical stylistic variations, without losing the roots in open-minded experiment, investigation and exploration:

Contact Improvisation is the practical exploration of the limits and opportunities of moving, without rigid plans for particular outcomes, in close proximity and in physical contact, and the observation of the ways in which this exploration changes the doing of and perception of solo movement and movement at a distance.

Generally speaking, when I teach, create and perform I like to embrace the idea of “dance” with all its poetic, musical, formal and expressive connotations. I feel that attention to “movement” should enrich rather than negate dancing and not promote the idea that good function is something separate from feeling, expression, communication and meaning. I don’t think that young, healthy, strong physicalities have, inherently, more poetic potential than others. So if you sign-up your body (whatever its limitations and abilities) for this intensive please don’t leave your metaphoric heart, your imagined soul and your inquisitive mind behind.