Category: FAR (4)
As part of Montclair State’s Creative Campus project, members of the UK-based dance company Wayne McGregor | Random Dance visited Montclair State for a series of discussions and workshops centering around the company’s “choreographic thinking tools,” culminating in last spring’s Brainstorm symposium on creative thinking. In October, Wayne McGregor continued the conversation with the campus community, in conjunction with the company’s performances of FAR. Below, Brandon Monokian shares reflections inspired by this informal Q&A session; for more, read reports on the initial workshops, by Brandon and Sara Wintz.
“Be wrong, be strong” is a philosophy I adopted about two and a half years ago. I was about to enter the professional world of the arts with four and a half years of theater school behind me and a degree about to be placed in my hand, and my confidence in my work was at an all-time low. Throughout my years studying in school, I had unwittingly become so obsessed with a perfect final product that I had forgotten the importance of the process, and the result was a series of safe and lackluster theatrical endeavors I’d rather forget. So I started being wrong and being strong and, in turn, learning from my mistakes.
I took this attitude with me into a workshop with two members of choreographer Wayne McGregor’s company, Random Dance. With a virtually nonexistent dance background, I was skeptical of what I would be able to achieve in the course of a two-day workshop, but I threw myself into the experience. The workshop was life changing, and, as a result of what I learned, I gained a plethora of new techniques and tools I could use to generate ideas, communicate with others, and understand my own sense of self as a theater director and actor. Months later, I was ecstatic to learn that not only would Peak Performances host the American premier of Wayne McGregor | Random Dance’s FAR, but they had arranged a discussion with McGregor himself. Read more »
“In flesh and blood lay the self and its articulations. With its own elaborate sign language of gesture and feeling, the body was the inseparable dancing partner of the mind or soul; now in step, now a tangle of limbs and intentions, mixed emotions. Organism and consciousness, soma and psyche, heart and head, the outer and inner—all merged, and all needed to be minutely observed if the human enigma were ever to be appreciated.”
—Roy Porter, Flesh in the Age of Reason
In rehearsal for Wayne McGregor’s latest work, dancers from his company perform extraordinary motions. They throw themselves into whiplash spins, let waves ebb through their necks, build counterintuitive curves and angles into limb and spine. No other contemporary choreographer has developed such an instantly recognizable range of movement—familiar yet dazzlingly novel, giving bodies new things to do while speculating about the minds that inspire them. Read more »
Members of the UK-based dance company Wayne McGregor | Random Dance spent a week at Montclair State in conjunction with Peak Performances’ Brainstorm symposium on creative thinking. In addition to discussions with students and public conversations, the company conducted a series of in-depth workshops with dance and theater students, based on the company’s “choreographic thinking tools.” Below, Brandon Monokian gives a participant’s view of these sessions. For more, read Sara Wintz’s report on the initial workshop sessions held in February and visit Montclair State’s Creative Research Center for a closer look at the research underpinning the company’s work.
“I want you to participate in this dance workshop and then write an article about it” were more or less the words staring back at me from my beloved MacBook.
“Okay,” I responded, “but I can’t dance.”
“That’s okay, it’s more about movement for actors.”
Well, it would have to be Dance for Dummies, because I’m about as skilled a dancer as Donald Trump is a politician. The prospect of participating in a dance workshop would, at the very least, be something to laugh about over some boxed wine and Oreos at a much later date and time. Read more »
As part of Montclair State’s Creative Campus project, members of the UK-based dance company Wayne McGregor | Random Dance recently led a series of workshops with students in Montclair State’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Sitting in as an observer, Sara Wintz reports her impressions of these initial sessions.
On February 14 and 15, students from the Department of Theatre and Dance participated in the first of what will be several workshops led by researchers and educators from British choreographer Wayne McGregor’s dance company, Random Dance. Master classes took place in two parts: on Monday, February 14, with students from Lori Katterhenry’s Choreography II class, and on Tuesday, February 15, with students from Debbie Saivetz’s Theatre Studies class. The workshops were facilitated by Scott deLahunta, Random Dance’s R-Research Director; Jasmine Wilson, Director of Creative Learning; and Antoine Vereecken, a dancer from the company.
The workshops introduced “choreographic thinking tools” that McGregor and the company have been developing in collaboration with cognitive scientists from the University of California at San Diego, led by David Kirsh, and from the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit of the UK Medical Research Council, led by Philip Barnard. Kirsh’s research interests include interactive design, collaborative environments, and human-computer interaction, and Barnard’s include mood and memory, embodied cognition, and choreography and cognition. Read more »