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FLYING LOW and PASSING THROUGH, The Dance Thinker, Issue #18
April 23, 2012
The Dance Thinker
Issue # 18, April 23, 2012
2. New Pages at the website:
1.FLYING LOW and PASSING THROUGH: testimony of Diana Betancourt
- A page for contemporary dance announcements in which you can post your news about workshops, auditions, performances, meetings or any current, related items.
- A contemporary dance blog where you can find current information and that will automatically distribute what you post in the announcements page to facebook, twitter and all subscribers to the site’s RSS feed.
- A worldwide contemporary dance directory of schools, companies, scholarships and related websites to which you can also submit your contact information.
- A special page for asking dance questions.
- An archive for THE DANCE THINKER back issues, where you can always revisit precedent issues from our e-zine.
- A contact page through which you can address to me directly if you have questions, ideas, wishes, suggestions or comments.
2. New Pages at the website:
Flying Low (the content in this page is different from the one in the article below, which corresponds to this issue of The Dance Thinker. It will broaden and complement your understanding of Flying Low and Passing Through)
1.FLYING LOW and PASSING THROUGH: testimony of Diana Betancourt
Well, this month I was lucky enough to have a meeting with Diana, thanks to her visit to my city and a workshop about the topic that she offered to our dancing community. When I knew she was here, I run after her immediately and got an interview that she accepted generously and full of energy.
So, here it is: a testimony and description of the 50 DAYS workshop, as one of the dancers experienced it. It gave me a really greater understanding of Zambrano’s method and insight. I hope you enjoy it!
Diana Betancourt: Flying low is a contemporary dance technique that works over energy. More than the shape of movement, it is about its energy and the interconnection of oppositions. You work with the totality of the body and do exercises over the ‘bringing and sending’ or the ‘here and there’ or the ‘me and you’, for example. It also has the quality of going in and out of the floor and it is through that constant flow that you recharge the energy that goes through you. The body is understood as a unity and space as part of it. You use this technique to prepare the body. After this there’s the Passing through; this one is a method for improvisation and instantaneous composition where the body is understood as a network that is interconnected with space and the other bodies, including their thoughts and feelings.
CDO: Many dancers in the world saw the videos about the 50 years event in Costa Rica… I’m so curious about how it was… What were the exercises and how were them? What were the guidelines that David Zambrano gave you?
DB: It lasted fifty days, working from Monday to Friday.
CDO: So, you were there for ten weeks?
DB: Yes, ten weeks from 8.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. The routine was to do a Yoga class from eight to nine a.m. It was a very static Yoga, like for reaching positions, sustain them and breathing. The class was given by a South African dancer that came to the event. There were dancers from all over the world; that is a circumstance that he used a lot during the process.
After that, we had the Flying low class, which lasted for two hours. Instead of long choreographic variations, that class is made up of short exercises that are executed in different ways; for example with three different speeds, or changing the space, or in pairs, helping each other to guide the energy…
CDO: So during the two hours you made short exercises?
DB: Yes, those were short exercises but that activated us enormously. We didn’t stop going in and out of the floor and we were bringing and sending energy all the time. He talked a lot about ‘entering’ the floor, which meant that we should not understand the floor as a surface to put our selves over, but rather as earth to penetrate, like if we were a plant that grows and dies and grows and dies…
It was all executed very fast. We also studied the exercises at a slow pace but not too much. The goal was to go as fast as we could without forgetting any part of our body or the others.
Then we had an hour for lunch and after that we had two or three hours of Passing through. In that session we did longer exercises but with specific tasks. We started with very simple things like walking, running, stopping and he added rules progressively. Every certain time he changed the theme…
CDO: He proposed something like improvisation guidelines?
DB: Yes, rules and goals. For example, he asked us to play with the use of collective pauses, the looping (which is to entwine), to push and pull, the use of the toes as eyes and so. At the end of each day we did the Passing through session with everybody, entering and leaving space…
CDO: Did he use to stop during those sessions to change the guidelines?
DB: It depended on each day. It was really changeable. We were into a progression of something but without being very much aware of how it was happening. At the beginning it was just like walking, stopping, crossing space, crossing somebody else, guiding and being guided…
CDO: And how were the guidelines? Did he asked for running, for example, and that was it? Or was it like several guidelines together?
DB: He used to combine like three options at the same time. For example, walking, running and stopping. That was the simplest one and that’s how everything began. But there was a deep rule underlying the whole thing which was that everything had to have a curving shape and that the spiral was the source for all movements. The spiral is actually the basement of all his technique. This comes from the idea that everything is curve or circular in nature, rather than straight. So, by applying it we achieve an ‘organic’, ‘closer to nature’ state.
And in time we searched deep into the given guidelines. I was surprised because the whole first week we just did walking, running and stopping…
CDO: Walking, running and stopping for three hours during five days?
DB: Yes, but it was through new guidelines each day, like for example walking through others, walking being guided and guiding or walking creating collective pauses…
CDO: He applied new guidelines to it?
DB: Yes, new guidelines over the same main topic and after one week we would change the theme. The next week we did pushing and pulling, for example.
There was also a work over the sudden making of decisions. He made us improvise and gave signals to change our energy and shape in a very abrupt way.
CDO: Did you use to do like an improvisation round for all this?
DB: It was not a round like in contact improvisation, but we were rather all in space and you would enter and leave as wanted or needed. He asked us to pay attention to the instantaneous composition we were producing, both with our bodies and in relationship with what the others were also doing.
CDO: So, could you be just observing if you wanted?
DB: Yes, but actually everybody was very active and dynamic.
David talked a lot about what he was proposing us but usually at the end of the week he said: “today I won’t talk and we’ll do this and this…”
CDO: And did he construct something through the whole process? Like a performance or a choreography?
DB: Yes. We had three extra activities; two performances in two theatres, to which we brought a Passing through show in which the guidelines were established. There was a construction but it was made up of improvisation guidelines. And the other activity was a trip to the beach, in which he also asked us to make exercises about trust between people; and everything was charged of energy…
CDO: So for the ten weeks you maintained that routine of Yoga, Flying low and Passing through?
DB: Yes, but there was something new every day. We did a lot of games and thinking about what we were doing. I guess the main topics behind everything were the spiral, the relationship with others and the non violent movement; it was about being strong without being violent.
CDO: Are there contact exercises in his proposals?
DB: No. He even joked about contact improvisation because it is different form his work in its constant relaxation, giving state and softness. Here we were in the search for a very dynamic, interchangeable, awakened and energetic flow. Very much awakened, with opened eyes all over the body.
David always danced with us; that was really beautiful. He was always there, with his fifty years, with a wonderful energy and in relationship with all of us. He was the master, but he was moving with you. So the teaching happened like in a more horizontal way.
CDO: How is his relationship to music?
DB: He always accompanied the exercises with music from an iPod and of all types. Sometimes he used jazz, sometimes rock, folk, pop; it was really all kind of it. He said it depended on the energy needed.
CDO: But was the movement rhythmically coherent with the music or was it more like a sounding background?
DB: He greatly believes in the connection between music and movement but he doesn’t count. You feel that what you do is coherent with music but it doesn’t go like a five, six, seven, eight thing. He also creates some kind of a song that translates the actions that you are executing and affirms that if we sing what we do, we find a special honesty with our selves. So doing the Flying low exercises with their songs was one of the steps of their practice.
He did indeed make us experience the silence or unusual soundscapes sometimes, but he actually made us hear an extremely wide spectrum of music.
CDO: All this sounds like a really hard work. Ten weeks, six hours a day, almost none stop. How did you all bear this?
DB: Well, the class charged your energy but at the end we were all really exhausted. There were hurt people as well because we were all very enthusiastic and tried things with excess of energy. But it was not tedious at all because there was always something new to learn. There were a few less interested dancers towards the end but it was not my case at all.
CDO: Is there something in particular that you would highlight about the teachings of David Zambrano?
DB: He always talked about the fact that we are energy; that we are like electric wires that are interconnected. It made me realize that the state we achieve while dancing is something we should maintain in our daily life. David really broadened our consciousness about the energy issue…
Choreographer and dancer based in Costa Rica since 2000. Diana is born in Colombia where she dances with Sabine Stockman and Claudia Cadena. In 2000, she travels to Costa Rica to attend contemporary dance studies at the school of the National University. Afterwards, she graduates from the conservatory EL BARCO at the ‘Taller Nacional de Danza’ directed by Jimmy Ortiz where she has the opportunity to learn from masters like Juan Cruz, Joelle Bouvier, Dominique Mercy, Lutz Foester and Roberto Olivan, among others. Since 2008, Diana directs the ‘Grupo Alternativo de Danza Contemporánea Danzú’ which is made up of students of the University of Costa Rica. Each year she creates choreographies that are based on the study of human nature: PARAISO CON LENGUA (2008), DELICIOSAS RELACIONES(2009), ENTRE PIERNAS (2010), CENTRAL (2011). As her graduating project she dances and directs ES (2011), which is a short exploration of the subject of the relationship between man and mother. After her participation at the "50 DAYS/Costa Rica 2010" workshop, she is compelled to share Zambrano’s dynamic wisdom. She has developed her work with pregnant women, mothers and babies, the elderly, teens and dancers. The main motivation of her teaching and artistic work is to share creative possibilities through organic movement, without tension but with attention.
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