I spent Monday morning dancing around the DJD's studio with Lin Snelling and Michael Reinhart. Theirs was the first of a week of workshops for the festival and it focused on connecting voice and movement together. I spent the morning singing and moving and sounding and playing without self consciousness or judgement, but with pure curiosity and joy. It felt like being a kid again, like finger painting and swimming and digging in mud. Tuesday night I sat in the theatre watching the Alberta Showcase 1. So often a piece of dance is surrounded by the mystery of how the artists came to make this work. What were they exploring to help them create this piece? What are the questions they were asking and the things they were doing in the studio to get them here? Empowered with the experience of their workshop fresh on my skin I watched Snelling and Reinhart's piece with some answers to these questions. I understood their work in a much deeper way and could relate to their experiences on stage because of mine in the studio with them. I was able to recognize the tracking, reflecting, listening and composing that is the work of the improviser on stage. I could appreciate where the work was coming from because if only briefly I had been there too.
It is such a privilege to be let in on an artist's process. It lets us experience their work on stage from a deeper place, knowing a taste of what it takes to get there. With so much of our creative work happening alone in the studio it is a powerful thing to open the doors and invite others in. Unveiling those private explorations does not mean revealing the magicians secrets but rather generating creative possibilities and sharing your toys generously. (Like kids playing in a sandbox, it's always fun to play with someone elses toys.)
Which isn't to say that we should have to take part in a workshop in order to understand or appreciate a piece of choreography. Not at all. I mean mostly to say that taking part in workshops and classes and other peoples creative processes makes us better viewers of dance and more appreciative of the diversity of artistic visions and of the multitudes of questions that an artist can ask in order to create a piece of choreography.
So if the doors to a studio are opened I say walk through.