Article by Kristen Finck, Student at Elements’ One-Day WATER Workshop, January 6, 2019
Coming from a predominately classical and technical background, I was excited by Elements Ballet’s offering of a WATER workshop. The workshop was something that I knew would push me to move in ways outside of my norm as well as educate and show me how much wider a range of dance vocabulary and creativity I, (as well as anyone with a instinctive brain and need for creativity within the walls of a dance studio) could produce. After leaving the space, I have come to realize that I was so used to confining my creativity and abilities within the studio that I was actually limiting greater possibilities of movement, artistry, and inspiration. Working with artistic director, Mike Gosney, I recognized just how infinite and boundless the possibilities of creativity and movement truly are. By confining the idea of one’s space and movement vocabulary, I was actually restricting myself to stay within boundaries instead of allowing myself to push the limits and explore outside of my comfort zone.
Personally, I’ve never been someone who’s been completely comfortable with improvisational movement. I’ve taken many classes, regardless, it’s always been something I could simply slide by on, not fully reaping the benefits or feeling confident about. For me, I have always struggled to create movement on the spot and to have it feel organic and natural (I tend to over analyze and over think and sometimes find it hard to shut my brain off and just let things happen). Therefore, the idea of a workshop focused on the WATER element was very appealing to me, as I knew it would be feel-good movement quality and would ultimately prove challenging to me as it would incorporate a large amount of improvisational dance. Elements didn’t disappoint.
From the get-go, Gosney broke down the process of improvisation in a way that made it very natural to go from overthinking every little movement, to slowly building movement, and finally expanding a movement vocabulary. Through the use of manipulating individual body parts, incorporating classical vocabulary, utilizing the space, levels, and the limitless possibilities of movement patterns, students were able to create natural, interesting movement by utilizing and connecting with others. The workshop culminated with a segment devoted to choreography. After learning and picking the details of each movement apart, each dancer was able to take what they had learned and experienced from the day and add in their own interpretations to the work. Thus, creating upwards of 20 different versions of the same baseline choreography. This was truly my favorite exploration as each dancer was given their own artistic freedom to enhance the choreography with their unique sense of timing, movement, & emotion to create a phrase completely different from every other body in the studio. From the beginning to the end of the workshop, you could feel (and see) the shift in everyone’s improvisational perspectives. Everyone was able to tap into their creativity and allow their movement to flow and become more natural. Whether you found the inspiration from the music, a peer, or somewhere within, Elements created a safe space to explore and grow as a student, dancer, and as an artist.
So what now? Personally, I learned a lot about myself through just one day of working and instruction from this company. As someone who is always looking to learn and enhance my dancing, I couldn’t have left more excited about everything I had learned and the education I had gained in just 6 hours. I am enthusiastic about the prospective of utilizing my arsenal of newfound tools in my professional dance career and future creative opportunities. Although I currently dance professionally, the fact that Elements was able to create a workshop that was fit for dancers and students of all ages and abilities from different technical and training backgrounds, that was both educational and inspirational for each person in the room is a testament to the caliber of their diligence, passion, and enthusiasm for creativity and for the success of each person who enters their studio spaces. In the future, I would highly recommend taking advantage of any future opportunity you may find yourself having with the artists of Elements Ballet as they will absolutely exceed all of your expectations.
Photos of dancer Kristen Finck by Erishyll M Photography (upper image) and Tracey Frugoli Photography (lower image).