Monday, 3 September 2012

A dancer's worth: Horton!

This past weekend I attended a dance workshop, specifically on the work of a practitioner named Horton. A physical theatre director I had worked under had done Horton work with the facilitator of the course advertised on my facebook page, and we had some of these exercises in our rehearsals. I thought it would be good to learn more about the style so I decided it would attend. I also knew that doing Horton work is quite hectic on the body. I expected to be stiff today. I didn’t expect that getting myself out of bed would be a challenge.

As I entered the building on the first day I didn’t know anyone. Attending courses close to where I grew up I would always know some of the people from competing against them, or from attending courses together over a period of years. A friend who wanted to attend the course with me couldn’t anymore, so I dragged my 24 your old self to a class that incorporated sixteen year olds. A part of me was quite scared that I would be the only ‘adult’ in the workshop, and that the rest of the dancers would all be school going age and I would end up feeling like a granny in a jumping castle. I arrived, and a few minutes later another lady arrived, in dancing gear looking slightly sheepish walked in. She was definitely not sixteen. We struck up a conversation, and I was very thankful to learn that she was 30, and a friend of hers who was also above 25 would also be attending! I was also thankful to learn that she felt exactly the same way I did!

The course consisted of four sections over two days: Two sessions of Horton training and two session of contemporary dance using these principles. After the first session I noticed that I had danced the nail polish right off my newly painted toenails. After the second session I noticed I had danced the skin off parts of my feet. By the morning of the second session I had a few well developed bruises. As I walked in to start day two I smiled at the now familiar faces. Although not knowing any of the names of the other girls we all shared a common experience. The stiff muscles which we all tried to get moving before we started the morning session. And the knowledge that the worse was still to come!

Stiff muscles, bruises and grazes aside, I had a good time. And as with all sessions of hard work, the moments of release from the extreme focus required for the exercises was even greater due to the intensity of the work we were doing. One of the most memorable moments was during the last fifteen minutes of the last session on Sunday afternoon. We were doing a series of strenuous  jumps which required one to jump, lifting your legs into a double stag. That is, one leg bent and raised in front of your body and the other bent and raised behind you while in midair. As soon as you landed out of this jump you jumped again switching legs. Across the length of a school hall. Needless to say it’s not exactly easy, and the first round ended in mostly confusion and some laughter as we tried to get height in the jumps while getting the correct placing and to actually keep moving the entire length of the floor. The facilitator said we should all concentrate on raising the front leg and the back leg would get into the correct position naturally and we tried again. On round two one of the younger girls in the group gave up on this and skipped across the hall, raising her front leg beautifully none the less, but completely forgetting that the back leg also had to work. The fascilitator turned around, holding her stomach to laugh. When she could speak again through giggles: “She looked like a fairy!”

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