Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dancing with Tanz Atelier Wien

I (Rachel) recently had the opportunity to dance with Sebastian Prantyl's 'Tanz Atelier Wien' in two outdoor performances on the streets of Vienna.

When I first met Sebastian a few months ago, we talked for over an hour about choreography; where we both feel it's headed in Europe, what needs to change in attitudes to dance-making and funding in our respective countries, what we feel is working (and not working) in Ireland and Austria in terms of professional dance training, practice, space, and support. It was a discussion I won't forget for a long time, mostly because of one important issue.

For some reason, I felt I could be completely open with how I approach dance making at this time. Often, I skirt around what I feel are the 'important bits' - the fact that as well as a profession, dance is a spiritual path for me now. That I'm realising on a deeper level that I'm not the one choreographing, but rather, once I'm out of my own way, my Divine Self flows through and creates work. (This is a concept older than time, but one which has been relegated to 'hippydom' in the last few decades within the art world at large - we're not dancing the rainbow here! - but that's another article altogether).

The reason I won't forget that first meeting with Sebastian is that when I told him about how I consider the spirit to be just as important as the body, as physicality, as aesthetics, as theatre, he completely agreed. When I discuss my work in Ireland, I'm now quite used to being met with blank stares, barely concealed judgment, or with a slightly patronising smile. This was the first time I'd met a choreographer who was not only agreeing with me but passionately so.

Working with his company last month I learned new methodology and approaches to improvisation, both as a tool for creation of choreography and as a method of performance, and other ways of approaching work in the studio. Refreshingly, it all felt complementary to the expandance way of working: playful, present in each moment, grounded, centered, and expansive. Thanks Sebastian, thank you dancers of Tanz Atelier Wien!