Dancing Dragons in London: Moving and Being Moved

Our fifth week in London marked the first week of our two-week international intensive hosted at Trinity Laban.

For these two weeks we participate in technique classes from 9:30 a.m. until 5:45 p.m. taking a variety of styles of our choosing.

My schedule begins with Pilates, a mind-body practice focused on breathing, strengthening the internal core musculature, and integrating these muscles into embodied movements for both dance and aligned living. This class is focused on the Mat Work which is one of many methods of equipment used in this modality, was developed by Joseph Pilates to rehabilitate gymnasts, athletes, and dancers. The Mat Work is a set series of exercises that slowly build up to more challenging actions, all using the deep core muscles and the flow of breath to carry out the actions. These exercises help cultivate a sense of awareness in the body in relation to space and in the body itself. This past year, I trained under Drexel Dance Faculty, Jennifer Morley to become a certified Pilates instructor after 450 hours of training, so it was exciting to practice this mode in London and also incorporate it into my long day of dancing.

In class, we started with fundamental techniques necessary to execute the more complex exercises. These were mostly focused on the pelvic floor, which gives your body all of the support you need to support your core in these exercises. Taking class from a different teacher was interesting because there are many ways to verbally cue exercises, so experiencing all of these ways will help me in my own teaching practice.

After Pilates, I move to Floor Barre (Barre a Terre) where I stay seated and still dance. Floor Barre is another technique focused on Ballet Barre exercises which again focus on the support of the core to aide proper alignment that can be translated into upright walking, dancing, etc. Our teacher, Kim explained that when we are sore, we actually use the proper deep muscles, rather than relying on our bulkier muscles.

I return from lunch and jump right back into full-bodied, company style contemporary class taught by a dancer from Company Wayne McGregor. This class is fast paced and physical, and by the end, I have created my own pool of sweat! After we warm up in the center, we work on our fast and dynamic combination, and end with a series of across the floor jumps. This class is rigorous and challenging, which makes it very rewarding.

My last class of the day is contact improvisation. Contact improv was created in the 70’s as part of the post-modern dance movement. Contact employs a series of weight-sharing techniques that allows bodies in the space to move in synchrony creating an entirely nonverbal language.

During our first day of classes, I was again overtaken by the overwhelming love for dance. The opportunity to dance for almost 8 hours every day and in another country is both rewarding and tiring, but the benefits of strengthening and training outweighs the sore muscles and passing out on the train ride home.

We were able to see a free performance in the Laban Theatre, which was moving, to say the least. “Far From the Norm” is a politically driven dance company and this piece focused on serious current events in the world. Being able to experience dance as a viewer is an important part of being a dancer and choreographer because it broadens your perspective and bank of information.

This first week has made me greatly appreciate my Drexel Dance experiences that I can apply and synthesize with my time here at Laban.