dance training for non-professionals

Text by Irina Raskin

“Would you teach me how to dance?” Since Jasmina Zaloznik asked that once Douglas Bateman, he started offering regularly a “dance training for non-professionals”.

So what are the principals of dance? Rather than teaching a specific movement technique or exercising a particular dance style, Douglas Bateman started with a communication of the general aspects of dance. He gave an understanding about the basic relations between body and (1) floor, (2) the room and (3) gravity. While explaining the three main relations singularly, Douglas instructed the participants to try them out and make one aware of how the physics of the body is involved by moving. For instance, which muscles engage and which don’t engage while performing a certain movement. Whereas there were no certain movements to imitate or repeat, but it was rather about finding its own movement quality according to those relations. By that, on the one hand, Douglas conveyed an intersubjective approach towards dance, where movement is created throughout relations. For example, by getting into a posture through associating one’s body with a direction in space or object within the room, instead of tighten the muscles in order to correspond with a pre-existing image of the posture. On the other hand, this kind of dance training is more individual as it is able to adjust to each body and its way to move – it is not about to form the body into an ideal image, whatever that may be, but discovering and widening of the already given possibilities, creating a body-consciousness by enhancing the one’s own mind-body relation.

The second part of the “dance training for non-professionals” consisted in improvisation on music. Because one should also have the approach to verbalize something in dance – might that be an expression, something abstract, just geometry, a specific relation towards a situation, a thought or feeling – otherwise it would be just physical, as the trainer set out.