Last months Misiconi Dance Company did a project with first year students from the Bachelor Dance Teacher department of Codarts, Rotterdam. For 2 months the aim was to make a 20 min performance for LKCA. A big art organisation in The Netherlands. Misiconi Dance company is an integrated dance company that decided to work 4 dancers of their own (3 dancers with Down’s syndrome and 1 dancer with a physical disability,) and 4 students.
Why did Misiconi Dance Company wanted to work with students? What was the result of working in the studio with this mixed group of Codarts students and Misiconi Dancers. Joop Oonk artistic director of misiconi tells us more about the process.
Well, practically there where many things that I liked about the idea of working with students. First, the students me and the Misiconi dancers were mostly the same age from 15-25. Having the same age and sharing creative practice is in my opinion not often common. Also the gap between the dancers is less and there is a shared interest in for example music, news etc. Also these students have a professional attitude and so I knew it was possible to make a performance within a short amount of time. Everyone was very steadfastly in the work process. However, most important was that these students have the possibility to work in an inclusive practice. These students are the future. As we need professional dancers with a disability, Likewise we need professional dancers without a disability in the scene. People that understand the practice. And that can only happen by being part of the practice and feeling the responsability of your role/job.
Starting the process no one knew eachother. The students joined in with our regular training. This way the dancers started to interact with eachother and the students got an idea of how we worked in the studio. Funny enough everything went very quickly. Everyone was part of the group. Now, the project is over we do miss the students. Nevertheless, we also had to work with a strickt schedule in order to finish the piece. In total we had 7 rehearsals, which is not a lot. In the beginning i also noticed that working on contact and duets was a challange. Therefore we used existing dance material to work with. So nothing new. with the use of contact ques, physical manipulation and answer-respond both the Misiconi dancers and the students where more clear in the roll they had as a performer. Some questions that arised; How do you make contact? What does it imply? Where is the focus? Also these ques helped oneanother to remember the choreography. Besides, we worked with a theme. The plastic bag, the recycling was the (red) thread within the performance and the work. The image was very important to create a setting and a new world.
Ofcourse the work that the students did with Misiconi was different then what they use to know from school. The work with Misiconi dancers might be a little bit more social. Or Misiconi dancers need a little bit more time to understand the movement and therefor you have to be pacient. Sometimes you have to take responsibility and sometimes not. However, what we did as group in this amount of time was’nt possible if everyone wasnt that dedicated and open to learn from this new experience. Also I learned a lot from this collaboration.
The result was that everyone had there own time on stage to perform, but at the same time everyone was part of this group. The plastic particles were seperate but at the same time waiting to connect in order to create something new. And creating something new is what we as dancers, teacher and choreographers do. Even though it comes from something that already exists. From past to future. Also the dancers that were willing to collaborate within a process that they did not realy know nor understand. These students that engage with Something that is new for them are the future that can makes our dance culture rich and maybe a little less ‘old’-fashioned. Therefore, I do think its very important to keep on collaborating with universities, dance schools, conservatoires, etc. After +/-10 years these dancers will be in there practice with their backpack full of new and exciting ideas!