Review of Open Workshop with Edd Arnold and Russell Maliphant
23 June 2021; on Zoom
Almost 60 people signed up for the Open Workshop – hurrah! What a powerful demonstration of older dancers’ artistic curiosity and ambition.
It did feel special. Partly due to being joined by so many existing and hopefully new friends, but mostly because Edd Arnold and Russell Maliphant were teaching together. They took it in turns to focus on specific aspects of body mechanics, flow and line. Starting with our feet we moved through the body, thinking about breath, where movements started and how different parts of the body connect. We stretched further than we thought we could. We layered as many of the different tasks and explorations as we could remember. We worked extremely hard physically and mentally. It was a challenging and uplifting experience.
Discussion and chat messages afterwards indicated that participants found it inspiring and informative. All the respondents to the feedback survey rated the workshop as good or better, with 60% rating it as excellent. Here are a couple of illustrative comments:
“Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the session yesterday. I can’t stop thinking about my feet. I’ve danced all my life, but this is the first time I’ve had explanations that make sense to me and that I can practise, in however small a way, depending on how my body feels.”
“I loved how the understanding of body mechanics and movement was woven into the creative practice. I also felt that both Russell and Edd were curious and imaginative in how they developed the explorations. I particularly liked how they kept us focussed on the principles of what they were doing, gently guiding us with pertinent thoughts, images and reminders of the core learning.”
For EncoreEast the Open Workshop marked the conclusion of a series of weekly classes on Zoom with Russell Maliphant Dance Company. In September we will be working in person at DanceEast with company dancers Edd Arnold and Alethia Antonia to create a piece based on Russell Maliphant’s Silent Lines. This creative process will culminate in a live-stream and filmed performance in the autumn.
Running through the project is research into dance with older bodies and the way EncoreEast is evolving its organisational model. Both the dancing and the organising are rooted in organic, functional approaches working from the inside out. We are blurring boundaries and finding connections between professional and community dancers, age groups, practice and organisation.
We are exploring the possibility of showing the film and sharing the research in Spring 2022 at the third HOST event which explores aspects of dance and older people hosted jointly by DanceEast and EncoreEast. Host will give us another opportunity to engage with all the new friends we made at our first Open Workshop.