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Frey Faust // Teacher
IDOCs » teach me (nothing at all)?
Dear IDOCDE organizers, being an event organizer myself, I would like to express my appreciation for the effort to coordinate so many people, and to provide creative formats for exchange. That said, I feel that the format chosen for the panel discussion that I staffed made constructive dialogue difficult. With your permission, I would like to take the time to continue to articulate my point of view.
2014.09.18

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Prologue teach me (not)!” - discussion theme as interpreted by Nita Little

In thinking about education, process philosopher Alfred North Whitehead concluded, “knowledge doesn’t keep any better than fish”, by which he meant that it must be free to undergo re-vision in order to be applicable to new conditions. If “kept”, it decays and becomes useless. Like dance itself, it must be found anew within each individual’s discovery of the world, moving forward into its next iteration as a rebirth. This will change it. Dancers, who trade in renewal, revision, recreation, and the appearance of the “new,” understand decay because they understand the vitality of presence and its constant dissolution into absence, here and not here. Knowing is motion, a flow. Knowledge is an object, subject to the conditions of living and dying. And so, the question appears, “Who wants dead fish?”

We can hear in the words “teach me (not)!” a passionate (the exclamation point) refusal (the embedded negative) to be colonized by dead knowledge through methodologies that impose it. We can hear a rejection of fish that will decay while also hearing the desire for new knowing that swims away, that moves forward and has its own vitality. If what we teach is undergoing decay as we teach it, what do we teach, and how do we teach it? Are the old methods of teaching up for reconsideration? And, how is it that students come to know, and what are the methods that help them understand what they want? How do they learn to own the process of knowing and its formation as knowledge? Can we pass on dance knowledge so that it generates the complex motion of knowing that keeps it alive?”

These questions and more are our subject in a panel discussion, “teach me (not)!”, that takes the theme of our idocde symposium and explores teaching in contemporary dance education. As a panel discussion it considers the complexity of passing forward knowledge that must flex and stretch to meet the new creative forms and practices that are constantly arising, generated by teachers, and generated by students, often because of teachers. Our panel of distinguished pedagogues, Sabine Caprioli, Frey Faust, and Sabina Holzer, with moderator Nita Little, will engage the audience in discussing methodologies and alternative practices of training dancers in order to rethink hierarchical pedagogic traditions, individual autonomy, the dynamics of “relationalities” that undergo change, and methodologies of teaching that offer varieties of purpose in the sharing of knowledge and the education of knowing.
 

 

THE PANEL EXPERIENCE FOR ME

I think I had the advantage, because english is my mother tongue, but I did not feel that my colleagues were treated fairly in this regard. In general, I did not feel that we were protected, nor that the dialogue between us was nurtured. I feel that the addition of the extra chairs ("commentary" and "instant panelist") destabilized our roles. This might have been done on idealistic grounds to dissolve the appearance of hierarchy, but the result was a competitive wrestling match for the center of attention, and a waste of our potential contributions on the subject. The session left me feeling as though I had been put to the test as a debater, rather than asked to share... I felt disquieted and disheartened. Personally, I do not feel that debate is a useful format for profound discussion. For me, it is verbal war, strategic positioning, attack and defense. Ultimately what resulted was a more raw, less civil hierarchy, firstly through the imposition of the rules of the game, then through the dominance of the less reserved, and the reticence of those who were too timid, or who refused to enter the arena.

 

Is hierarchy something innately wrong for the event organizers?

 

A PANEL IS A FORM OF TRANSMISSION / TEACHING

Aside from the phenomenon of ill-gotten or unmerited status, I feel that hierarchy is a natural consequence of diligent and disciplined focus. The person who has dedicated themselves to the study and practice of a subject will serve as a reference and a guide for those who are interested in the same subject. This uneven situation is hopefully temporary, as sincere and gifted teachers, mentors and guides cannot help but share what they know, and as each successive wave of students could learn more than the last, discover things on their own to add, and can now pass their knowledge on to the next wave of learners.

 

Hierarchy arises out of the necessity for parenting, the concerned guidance and protection from harm of the innocent or ignorant, until they can fend for themselves and begin to enter into responsible dialogue. The problem is in understanding how much protection is actually protective, how much guidance serves to support individual independence or initiative.

Hierarchical social structures arise out of the archiving process itself, as bodies of wisdom are collected and collated, their integrity and transmission needs curation by those who invest the time to study the material, and to learn how to pass it on.

Hierarchy also arises out of the hard work of dedicated individuals, who's motivation and enthusiasm for curation and organization provide context for many others, like the organizers of the idocde event. Perhaps we can mitigate the abuse of the privileges that are accorded our leaders, mentors and initiators, but before we destroy, first ask, “why is this here?”, and “what does it serve?”.

 

For example, the topic of “Teach Me (Not)!” places a hierarchical value on living as opposed to dead fish. And, when the event format of the discussion was imposed on the participants, it represented an inherent power imbalance because we, the panel staff were never asked, we were told what the format would be. Please don't misunderstand me, this is not a criticism. I am always interested in format challenges, I think the procedure is only problematic if the organizers and/or moderators profess to be absolving hierarchy with this imposition!


As I understand it, hierarchy IS structure. It represents the only vehicle through which anything can be expressed, in abstraction, in politics, in nature. Structure is inherently hierarchical, like the human body itself.

My opinion is that a degree of formality is necessary, not only to create the possibility of focus, but also to honor our elders. Not every convention needs to be overturned. If we do challenge convention, a good question to ask might be "does a revision serve our intention?"... and/or.. "what is our intention?".

 

 

THE DISCUSSION – hierarchical modalities / transmission of form as opposed to... what?

I am of course fully in accord, that knowledge finds its most appropriate form in individualized application. Each person is a unique variation of common materials and principles, so it stands to reason that their problems and solutions may be similar, but not identical. My own teaching methods emphasize the provision of options rather than the insistence on my personal will, with the aspiration to promote self-mentoring, practical criteria for reasoned boundary-setting and informed consent. The teachers I adopt as my colleagues share my thirst for continued research, honoring the cycle of hypothesis-thesis-fact-hypothesis-thesis-fact rather than settling for dogmatic absolutes. We routinely revise or even trash presumptions or key concepts in the body of knowledge we are compiling in the interest of accuracy and veracity. So my readers will understand that I agree that it is important to provide students with a non-dogmatic teaching modality. I am fully aware of the dangers in unchallenged and untouchable precepts that are passed on without question, but I think there is an appropriate place and time for even this kind of information transmission.

 

I think I share the same cause with the organizers to do all that we can to render the study context information rich, constructive and empowering. Its the statement that “kept” knowledge is “useless” that I find is unrealistic, if for nothing that much of my work is based on the retrieval and re-contextualization of archived clinical studies, historical and empirical reports. If these “kept” sources were considered useless... what would society do with them? If they were considered toxic... if studying them and transmitting them tabu, my personal and professional opinion is that the loss would be tragic. The real topic, I believe, is not the value of stored wisdom, but the withholding of that wisdom, and the abuse of the educational context for the propagation of myths and lies, the abuse of power.

 

There is much that needs to be taught and learned, much that needs to be dusted off and re-claimed, and dancers are some of the most endangered, especially contemporary dancers, who in my opinion are trained to neglect and abuse their bodies as a rule, and before allowing themselves to absorb and profit from available knowledge, seem to be building hefty arguments against formal knowledge transmission.

 

Dancers, no more or less enlightened and superior beings than other humans, are in very real physical danger because of wide-spread mis-and-disinformation about physics and their own anatomy. In many cases, their imaginations are weaponized against them, as they attempt to reverse many anatomical parameters and train-in reflexes that routinely quarrel with physics and the limitations proposed by their own bodies, setting them up for early injury and retirement. All we need to do to confirm this statement is a brief survey of statistical material gathered in various countries.

 

FORM – AN EVOLUTIONARY TRAMPOLINE

To me it seems clear, that form itself is not the issue. Is it then the abuse of forms and formats for ulterior motive that Whitehead and the organizers of the discussion are reacting to? Or is it really the formatting of information transmission itself that is under fire here?

In the next paragraphs, I will explain why I feel that it is impossible to avoid form or formatting when we are creating contexts for the transmission of information, and that because of the internal, biological, intellectual, emotional and environmental conditions imposed on this transmission, power distribution is necessarily uneven. This explanation will give the basis for my feeling that the discussion about the merits of one form over another that seems less formal is irrelevant, and that the real discussion is about the abuse of power, the struggle for hegemony, or the struggle for survival. At the end I will include a brief description of the pedagogical objectives of my initiative, the Axis Syllabus.

 

I am concerned about the subtext of this discussion, which I interpret as an argument against the formalized transmission of movement forms through instruction and demonstration. I submit the counter argument here, that we need form and formality as an intrinsic part of the evolutionary process, and that we also need to get better at the documenting, archiving, preservation and transmission of the various forms of movement.

 

I would agree that training and preparatory principles are often dangerously outdated, that the language used to teach movement is often obtuse and misleading, that long overturned, erroneous concepts continue to be propagated, that ignorant and self-serving people make it into positions of authority. But let's not confuse the mis-management of social institutions and the educational premise with form itself!

 

I find the argument to abandon form in movement teaching has similarities to the recent legal attack on the Vibram Five-Finger shoe manufacturers. Basically, the V-shoe offers only minimal protection for the foot, like a reinforced sock. Those who are suing claim that the company is to blame because they didn't warn their public about the dangers of running in their shoes, even though most running shoes are likely suspects for many injuries already.

 

This case is metaphorical for teachers and students who are ignorant of how to benefit mutually from the context of knowledge exchange. Suing this company is like suing Nature for not warning us about the dangers of running using our own feet, similar to blaming the natural conditions imposed on information transfer for the negative stress that suffocates the learning process.

 

What we can take away from this instance, is that whether or not we know about something, relevant conditions persist and impact us. By this I mean that no matter how obscure or unknown, knowledge influences through its vivid application, but also when it is withheld or hidden. If that knowledge has been archived adequately however, it can be resuscitated and rendered useful again.

 

Is the rejection of current and traditional methods of movement skill transmission in the name of individual freedom useful or wise?

 

It is hard for me to imagine how specific skills could be passed along if accurate explanation and exemplary demonstration were not allowed or socially disfavored.

 

Let me propose an outline of the conditions of studying/teaching.

  • A person or people organize a space for the focussed encounter with self and other.

  • The facilitating person/people work from their experiences to provide a tram that guides a gradual discovery or recovery process, which they introduce and juggle with as the encounter reveals its own necessity - as individual interpretation and need enter into the equation.

  • The facilitator/s and students draw from their own stores of understanding, technical and cultural references for the exchange.

  • There are physical safety limits to observe, as well as social parameters for mutual civil respect to define.

 

These could be foundational aspects for situations where people will gather to learn and practice.

The mere fact that someone has taken the initiative to propose a context for study that others have committed to attend provides form. The other condition is the fact that only a few things can be explained and understood at a time. The situation might be slightly different in an obligatory curriculum, where people are forced to attend through violence or social compunction... but once again, are we discussing the abuse of authority?

 

If we are, while we are at it, lets discuss the abuses that the student levies as well!

Projection, transference, absolving themselves of responsibility for inquiry and proactive process, mis-representation of the teacher's ideas and intentions, self-serving indulgence, insolent ignorance, hurtful gossiping, neglectful behavior that physically endangers others, tardiness and resistance to helpful counsel. They can also be resentful when reasonable boundaries are set for the well-being of themselves or the group, or when the assumption of greater responsibility is delayed because competence is deemed lacking.

 

Is the further disempowerment of the teacher a rational solution to these problems?

 

Whitehead says, knowledge does not preserve well. Is he considering the seeming futility of the cleric's role, who slavishly copies what has been written? Here we could discuss whether the sacrifice of the individual in the name of a collective advance in understanding and technological competence might be valid... But I ask you, how is this situation relevant for the study of movement skills, where a living person attempts to communicate management concepts via a range of interactive media that solicit the active participation of the student?

 

Ultimately, my point is that it is not worthwhile to argue against teaching specific skills or esthetic choices and for providing guided space for re-experiencing one's own body. There is no contradiction, because we are only talking about different and not better kinds of information hierarchies.

 

On the other hand, abusive education discourages students from knowing and contributing their own resources, their own ideas and creative impulses rejected, their sense of just treatment compromised. But in order to address these injustices, is the attempt to dismantle all form and all formality practical?

 

Are Dead Fish Useless?

Provided they are consumed soon after death, fish can be eaten, providing sustenance. Dead fish can be dissected, providing insight into their brilliant engineering strategy for underwater life. Decaying fish provide building block materials for other forms of life that are critical to an ecosystem.

 

I cannot subscribe to what I feel is purely semantic indulgence in drawing such a distinction between knowledge as dead and or decaying and knowing as living and vital. Both words describe more or less active states of applied information that has been, or is yet to be integrated into practice.

 

A moment at the IDOCDE symposium articulated this issue with vibrating outlines.

It was the “Blue Dot” data-circle event, where all present stood at an even distance to a big blue ball, and questions were asked, to which we all responded by either taking more distance as a negative response, or approached the ball to indicate agreement or accuracy.

 

The question was asked, “who likes to study anatomy?”, to which there was a generalized response. Another colleague asked “who likes to EXPERIENCE anatomy?” with an emphasis on “experience”. The response was more enthusiastic, and this colleague said to the person who had asked the previous question,“experience wins”.

 

Aside from the pettiness of such kindergarten level competition, how can we “experience” anatomy without studying it? Obviously, consultation of various anatomical models, images, and perspectives enhances the accuracy of “experience”. Studying anatomy can take various forms, but personal consultation of resources notwithstanding, I have found it extremely helpful to have our “experience” of anatomy assisted by an impassioned and rigorous teacher, who has “studied” the material at length.

 

Knowledge... an energetic field of more or less ethereal archives which are reviewed and drawn upon by living organisms through various exchange mediums, thoughts – actions - books - DNA, guarantees the continuity of evolution. As bits and pieces of stories are archived and transmitted, they can be melded together and provide the basis for larger and more complex models for reality, allowing deeper understanding and more intelligent and fluid use of resources. Forms represent temporary manifestations of this process. They provide the legacy that facilitates comparison, evaluation, improvement.

 

When forms are rejected out of hand, when the archiving fields are disrupted or destroyed, evolution is endangered, because knowledge can be forgotten, meaning that seekers may find themselves lost where those who were there before knew their way.They might make the same mistakes as their forebears, re-invent the same things. Eventually, after much travail, they will come to the same conclusions, perhaps to have their recorded observations turned out on the rubbish heap by enterprising and "revolutionary" youth – revolving, turning and turning and turning in place. This is the potential face of the phrase "... it must be found anew..."  - lost souls poking through the ashes of history after well-meaning activists have razed everything to the ground.

 

Isn't this colonization in another form, the destruction of what was in the name of a dubious "new"? A potentially nihilistic impulse, disingenuously ferried through noble concepts, like “freedom” and “imagination”, and “self-expression”?

 

After the Blue-Dot exercise, the symposium participants were led through a warm-up for an open improvisational encounter. The curious aspect was the dictatorial manner in which this sequence was led, in which the length and focus of every task was determined by the teacher leading the sequence, and who assumed a peremptory tone several times during the period; "... and now the chit-chat ceases...",  "... and now we will have a verbal conversation with a partner...".

 

Fundamentally, I do not have a problem with the form in which she chose to express the power granted to her to articulate that session, but once again, I find it misleading and hypocritical when one hierarchical structure is imposed on another in the name of dissolving hierarchical structure.

The awareness of this discrepancy, being so self evident, made me skeptical and resistant to the teacher's proposals.

 

I feel that the metaphorical equation of older, preserved or conserved knowledge with “useless” dead fish is extremely problematic.

 

because it imposes a subjective hierarchy of value on an inscrutable and extremely complex process.

 

because it represents a potentially destructive attitude towards the collected thoughts/ideas/observations/notions of those humans in current and foregone times who went to considerable trouble to document them in a form that we could use as a trampoline to further elaboration

 

because it implies the irresponsible dismantling of all authority, and threatens to silence those who have spent lifetimes to gather valuable experience.

 

It is tantamount to book and witch-burning; this time we can add parents, mentors and teachers. It is an attitude that I feel has spawned a fictitious and perverse race for "originality" in our "Western" society, as well as the discarding of our elders.

We can see this dynamic in small, in the microcosm of the dance world, where the revolving return of the same styles and concerns of each successive generation of dance is carried out as if each re-iteration of bygone ideas was "new", and as if what was (even as recent as a mere 10 years ago) is no longer relevant.  Ironically, I find that the most "cutting edge" notions of today's so-called "contemporary" dance performance closely resemble ten-thousand year old ceremonies I have witnessed in Benin, Africa. The introduction of technology has done little to change the fundamentals.

 

THE ABUSE OF POWER – decoupling from reality

Although the definition of abuse must be contextualized to varying cultural norms, general guidelines for the observation of decorum and the preservation of human dignity in the classroom can be formulated on the basis of current international accords. Inordinate physical violence and sexual assault will either be illegal, or severely restricted. Insult, humiliation, or gratuitously favoring a particular student or students on the basis of appearance, gender or sexual orientation is generally considered unwarranted and unfair. But abuse can take subtler forms. The social status of the teacher/leader can be misused consciously or unconsciously to serve ulterior motives. For example, to indoctrinate, to acquire monetary wealth, extort sexual favors, or it can be a way to get therapy, or get around getting therapy. Socially reinforced classroom etiquette can allow someone to be less disciplined with their impulses or frustrations, or to make others feel responsible for the effects of their own behavior. The teacher's status can be used to silence those who would criticize the manner in which classes are conducted, or discourage questions that require knowledge beyond the competence of the teacher.

 

On the other hand, the fact that knowledge gives power to the knowing is an incentive to withhold it, potentially reserving advantage and privilege to a few. The knowledge of knowledge itself has provided weapons for the control of the masses to the powerful. “Informational” institutions format the youth with specific precepts that are deemed useful to the captains of industry, to the administrators of society, rather than providing tools for an interactive process towards the unknown. Information could lead to but in itself is not knowledge. Information can also hoodwink and bamboozle. I submit that much of what is taught in institutions is meant to belay true understanding, to befuddle and confound.And among those seekers of the truth who are rightly angry and tired of oppression, misguided movements to dismantle all educational efforts arise. Efforts that also safe-guard the transmission of what is known. So I would urge caution when challenging standing institutions and social paradigms. Change will and does occur in any case, but not necessarily in the favor of the “managed”. To open the possibility of positive change for all, a careful examination of what is beneficial and operative in the paradigm we currently support and have collectively created would be advisable. Otherwise, history will simply repeat, reactionary violence begetting more of itself, not its opposite. Every decision/act has unexpected consequences. When we arrive in a situation and judge it as deficient, thereby justifying radical change, the effects can be catastrophic for others... how do we know which changes to make? How do we know if our actions won't ultimately turn out negatively for us or those we would like to support? Caution and study are inadequate, but they are the best insurance we have.

 

People tend to form opinions of things based on their personal experience of them, based on who and in what manner a subject was introduced. This is what is meant by the term “reactionary”. This explains positive or negative views of religion, or science, or politics or relationships, or the dance world, etc. Unconsidered positive attitudes can be rigidly conservative, and negative ones categorically rejecting. Both can cause the destruction of much that is important for our continued development, if allowed to take hold in society.

 

1. Story

I read a story once about a planet that was lit by six suns. There was therefore no night time. However, every few thousand years, after humanity had reached a moderate level of civilization, there was a total eclipse of all six suns for 5 years.Most people, having never seen the stars, never had to deal with the dark, lost their minds. They had never invented electricity, because there was little need. Everything was burnt down and most died in the panic. Civilization had to start again, only to be destroyed again, and again... There were a few that retained the memory of the cycle, and tried to warn the others. They were dismissed as cultist charlatans and fear-mongers.

Of course, the manner in which things are taught can engender knowledge, which empowers the individual for creative choices and further adaptation to emergent reality, or it can bring about ignorance through the manner in which the information is formatted.

 

2. Story

For example, a woman recently told me that she was baking bread once, when a guest asked her why she split the dough into two pans before putting it in the oven. She didn't know, and asked her mother. Her mother didn't know, and asked her grandmother. The grandmother said that, being poor, they didn't have pans that were large enough to make bread for the whole family, hence the habit. Necessity, becoming tradition, becoming unquestioned protocol, decoupling from necessity... and reality.

 

As we teach things, we stand on our convictions and perceptions, our immediate sense of what is appropriate. The best insurance we can provide against a stultifying dynamic, is to insist on the transitory nature of truth, to encourage individual adaptation and dialogue as a part of the transmission process, resisting the temptation to garner power and authority based on the image of "knowing", rather than the viscous, constantly altering fluid that is knowledge. But there are certain things that are beyond the subjective at this point.

 

3. Story
For example, a student of mine proudly showed me a thick glass bottle she was sure was freezer resistant, because it had not broken even after hours in cold storage. I relayed what I had learned from my elementary school science classes, that water expands when it freezes, and can break the container if it is full, and does not expand as well.


4. Story

Another example is the use of the awl, a tool that although it is thousands of years old, has never lost its utility. Having never seen one, or seen one used, it was hard to imagine how I could manage. I possessed one for a year, attempting many times to use it. After less than a minute of demonstration by someone who knew how, I am now able to use it, to make clothing, bags, shoes etc... and I am able to pass on this knowledge.

Speaking of ancient knowledge, archeologists Acharya S. Murdoch, Starhawk and Robert Graves among others, digging up the decaying and dusty remains of bygone eras, have been able to transmit findings from hundreds of thousands of years ago that are of critical social importance today: evidence of female-led societies that gave the lie to male supremacists, evidence lending weight to the perception that religion is an intrinsic aspect of human society, evidence that also undermines the primacy of one religion over another.

And, using ancient, unearthed bone samples, geneticists have been able to trace modern human DNA back to a single race, abolishing the biological basis for racial differences among humans, removing the premise for a “superior” people of any color. These cases show how important archiving is, and how form is the logical, indeed the only available vehicle for knowledge.

 

As students, if we are able to set our egos aside for a moment, friendly counsel and practical instruction from our elders, colleagues, friends, lovers and teachers can empower and heal. After all, a living person, breathing, thinking, and moving right there in front of you, is living knowledge animated and ambulant. Teaching is the most vital form we have of information transmission.

 

As teachers, we can strive to respect the dignity and fundamental rights of our students. Each person's subjective assessment and collected understanding of reality is a potentially a precious resource for others, and when accounted for, conserved and given further, allows us enter into dialogue with each other over the material, and, adding our own insights, continue on from where they left off, instead of staying on the hamster-wheel of history.



The Axis Syllabus – initiative to provide an open-source information resource

The Axis Syllabus is an emergent, educational initiative to provide an accessible reference system for practical human anatomy and physics through the creative practice of dancing (see website: www.axissyllabus.org). Our methods focus on the discovery and/or re-claiming of this knowledge with its direct application in movement:

gait analysis and re-education

rebuilding neurophysiological motor patterns through the acquisition/re-education of falling responses

kinetic energy generation and deployment

inertial laws and management of gravitation and mechanical forces

 

Regular and varied activity is a clinically established, fundamental human need. The multiplicity of activities has two common denominators, the physics of this universe, and the human body itself. Our initiative is to consolidate and cross-check the scientific or empirical accuracy as well as the procedural validity of the methodologies applied in the various social sectors that are concerned with offering fitness, physiotherapy, training for athletes, performance preparation for dancers and creative laboratories for movement artists. Dance is the primary medium through which the work is expressed, because it is understood that creativity and creative play are fundamental to integration process.

 

We aspire to provide a global forum for teachers from all of these fields and any others that might be relevant, to assure the education of competent, well-informed instructors, capable of delivering practical, individualized assistance, teachers that can provide creative stimulation and space for creative expression.


The Axis Syllabus is the foundation of a comprehensive “user's manual” of the human body. It provides a backlog on existing practice and preparation protocol, and furnishes clinical and statistical support for the reconsideration and update of current training and re-habilitation models. The AS began to be consolidated in 1997. Through the years, what began as a protective impulse towards dancers has expanded into an ever-growing reference system for many movement-oriented teachers, doctors and physiotherapists and thousands of event participants from every walk of life, underlining our shared belief that creativity is the heart-beat of everyday life, and that a separation between life and art is necessarily fictitious.

The core group, or Axis Syllabus International Research Community, works to consolidate, update and transmit the AS. The ASIRC aspires to the following ethical standards: a fluid, rational, competence-based collegial hierarchy, as well as the encouragement of diplomacy, discretion, and the respectful and timely expression of critical thought.

The result of a long term study is considered successful if we have helped to enhance the ease with which the student moves, facilitated rehabilitation or the maintenance of their long term-health, enhanced their independence and self-monitoring skills, and sponsored democratic and considerate behavior. Our aspiration is to provide most relevant, up-to-date information in a neutral format, hopefully allowing the individual to apply this information to their own cultural or aesthetic context.

 

Our research has placed several core training concepts in doubt:

no pain, no gain
imagination is better than science
single-plane, symmetrical movement patterns are a valid organizational basis
there is a constant “center”, or center of gravity
there is such a thing as tonic “core” muscles, or superficial, deep or “phasis” muscles
“rolling up and down” is valid exercise
“first” position is “neutral”
“parallel” position is “neutral”
stretching and strengthening alone improve performance
training isolated muscles can prevent injury or solve postural problems
flattened hands are more supportive
insisting on pressing the heels to the floor when flexing the legs improves jumping
a certain movement system or style is “basic” movement technique, for example classical ballet
more mobility is healthier
reaching for the periphery beyond one's own support management integrity can make the body look bigger
the career of the dancer is necessarily short because serious injury is inevitable

There are several other notions under consideration as well.

Simply stated, rather than determine the way in which it is applied, we would like to allow ourselves and our students access to knowledge. Although there are obvious ethical concerns that have to do with individual and social hygiene, our collective motivation is to support creativity and independence through the proposal of practical, neutral counsel that represents an unbiased respect for the general and individual variations on the human body-plan.


Comments:
user avatar
Andrea Boll Eligible Teacher // Teacher
2014.09.19
Thank you for verbalizing all this! I very much agree.
I also share your feeling 'disquieted and disheartened' about the panel. It was constipating to circle around the topic teach me (not)! which is a provocation as such. So thank you for addressing it.

No it isn't wise nor useful to reject current and traditional methods of movement skill transmission in the name of individual freedom. Rejection evokes unnecessary competition between different approaches to dance and teaching dance which are / can be complementary or co-exist.


user avatar
Anja Gallagher Eligible Teacher // Teacher
2014.09.19
Thank you for giving me answers to personal questions to my own current teaching, that were not answered when I left the symposium. I just got out of the hospital after a spine surgery, after which it was not clear whether I would be able to dance again. I am now using the recovery and "teaching free time" to study the Axis Syllabus book.


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