The workshop lasted 3 hours and consisted of four exercises, all of them are used in contemporary dance. They come from artists/movers who aimed at finding new approaches to movement in the 60’s and 70’s. Since then these approaches were further developed from generations of dance and movement practitioners. All of them aim at activating different sensory perceptions, for instance the gaze, the touch and also to a certain extent our kinaesthetic sense.
We wanted the students to explore the location ”Betonwerk Stolpe” physically by moving in space. The focus was to be attentive to the sensations of the own body in relation to the others and in relation to the space – and to raise the awareness in which way the body is directly influenced by the environment.
Whilst the first exercise was moving and aiming at making eye-contact to explore the space that opens up and develops along the connection of the gaze between two people, for the second exercise we asked half of the students to move in space with their eyes closed. We asked the other half of the students to guard the blind and varied the ways they did so – starting with touching the blind partner, then not touching but intervening only if the blind partner is ‘in trouble’ and eventually asking them to change the guard without letting their partners know. After these exercises, we came together to reflect on experiences made so far with everyone.
The second part of the workshop consisted of two parts. For the first part, we asked the students to pair up, go out and “observe what needs to be observed”. When they came back after half an hour, we asked them to share these explorations with each other in movement, using as little words as possible. Although the students felt a little uncomfortable in this last task, everybody took the courage and joined in. Usually working with performance art and dance students, we were surprised how fast these exercises pushed the students out of their comfort zone and we were even more impressed of their curiosity, openness and how much courage they had following us regardless.
For us, it was a fascinating journey to see how these students from different departments, different cultural backgrounds, who hardly knew one another came closer through connecting with their bodies and senses. At the same time as they connected with one another, their widened sensual awareness also made the physical and atmospheric dimension of the Betonwerk more tangible. To observe how careful the students were with one another and the care with which they started exploring the physical space was for us like to listen, to sense, to be attentive and responsive to what is present, although at times invisible, to affect and to be affected.