Technique Top Image_Cylla

Andrew Swan © Cylla von Tiedemann

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Dance Techniques 1, 2, 3
Graham Technique and Coaching, Contemporary, Ballet, and Horton Techniques

Classes in technique are physically demanding and artistically stimulating. Teachers use sound anatomical practices to encourage strength, stamina, flexibility, versatility, musicality, dynamics, and phrasing.

Graham Technique

Graham Technique is derived from the work of American modern dance pioneer, Martha Graham. These classes provide dancers with an understanding and an experience of the use of the basic movement principles of contraction/release and spiral, beginning in the body’s centre and radiating into its extremities. The contraction, an elongated curve of the back, begins with an impulse from the centre of the body related to the exhalation of breath; the release, a lengthening out of the curve of the contraction, relates to the breath inhalation; in the spiral, the torso coils around the central axis of the spine.  With variations in falls and turns, the body sculpts the space in three-dimensional curves. One of the most dramatic of modern dance techniques, the Graham movement vocabulary has tremendous power and expressive potential.

Each class begins with breath-related exercises seated on the floor, and it progresses through codified floorwork to standing work and complex movement phrases travelling through space.

Graham technique is important to learn; I find it almost a necessary technique, in that it grounds you and matures you. It has become almost a rite of passage for me with regard to dance; it has helped me in a transition from a childhood state of mind to an adult state. – Stuart Wright, graduate, from Toronto, Ontario

Graham Technique Coaching

A hands-on experience for the dancer, these classes are taught in small groups, addressing individual technical, movement, and performance concerns in a caring and creative learning environment. Exercises are broken down to their fundamental components for a deeper physical and intellectual understanding.

The dancer is encouraged to ask questions and clarify issues, principles, and exercises that have been introduced in their technique classes. Coaching classes provide important time for students to work with each other in order to understand their own and each other’s needs.

The classes provoke personal investigation and movement research, and they promote a sense of responsibility towards learning, critical analysis, and becoming one’s own teacher.

Contemporary Technique

The class begins with work at the barre or in the centre, followed by movement across the floor, including a variety of jumps, and finishes with a vigorous high energy dance phrase. This training is shaped by the expertise and teaching philosophies of our resident and guest faculty. It focuses on integrating use of the torso and limbs; articulation of different body parts; alignment; and use of energy, weight, and space.

Dancers work on physicality, centering, coordination, and clarity of movement.  Emphasis is on strong technique as a base from which to build expansive movement qualities and confident performance.  In this exciting and inspiring atmosphere dancers improve technically and grow artistically.

Ballet

Ballet classes consist of classical ballet work, emphasizing principles of functional anatomy and movement flow in combination with musicality, physicality, strength, and aesthetic expression. Students improve skills in areas such as fast footwork, quick changes of direction, speed, agility, port de bras, and elevation. The individual attention and positive, focused atmosphere in the classes enable students to make major advances in their technical work.

Horton Technique

As part of contemporary dance technique classes, students receive classes and workshops in Horton and other important techniques.  Horton Technique, based on the work of Lester Horton, is a rigorous, powerful and demanding technique, which utilizes lateral torso movements and a dynamic attack, building increasingly difficult movement sequences.

The leadership and core senior staff… know each student individually and… carefully plan the teaching provision to ensure that the student experience of guest teachers is balanced by the consistency of inputs from core staff. – Christopher Bannerman, Canadian Heritage Assessor

Dance Technique courses are supplemented by periodic intensive workshops from expert guest artists in various related disciplines.

All dance technique classes feature live music provided by an experienced dance accompanist using piano and/or percussion.

Dancers with this training and experience are well prepared to adapt to a range of professional contexts, whereas those without the benefit of a sound technical training will struggle to develop it later in their careers. – Christopher Bannerman, Canadian Heritage Assessor


Special Workshops, Master Classes 1, 2, 3

Workshops, master classes, and intensive courses are given by guest artists and speakers. Topics have ranged from various dance techniques and practices to health and fitness subjects, as well as theatre production and career planning. Special workshops may include (but are not limited to): Dance Adventures; Movement Workshops; Movement Clinics; Nutrition, Mindfulness, Mind/Body Medicine; Emergency First Aid/CPR Training; and Masking Training.

We get a lot of encouragement to think for ourselves. – Juana María Galindo Torres, graduate, from Bogotá, Colombia


Body Work 1, 2, 3

The challenges of technique to each particular physique and nature require exploration and practice outside of class throughout a dancer’s entire career. Body Work is an umbrella term for sessions which are designed as an adjunct to technique class and provide students with personal practice material in a number of critical areas.

Conditioning

Conditioning is an adjunct to technique class and provides students with personal practice material in a number of critical areas.  They participate in a preparatory class emphasizing the development of alignment, selective muscle recruitment, strength, power, flexibility, endurance, and coordination. The class involves choreographed phrases created specifically for the needs of dancers in this training program. Body work may also include classes in other body practices.

Movement Clinics

Movement Clinics are usually one-on-one sessions, in which an appropriate faculty member can address the needs of a single student to find strategies which will free them from particular technical or performance concerns that may be impeding their progress. The sessions sometimes address more than one issue, encompassing a broad view of the student’s approach to movement.

Smaller classes, sometimes one to one with a teacher, focused on individual issues… This is a very positive addition to the curriculum, highly valued by students, and it clearly indicates a caring learning environment and contributes to positive staff-student relations. – Christopher Bannerman, Canadian Heritage Assessor

Anatomy 1

This course gives the dancer a practical understanding of functional anatomy, including basic musculoskeletal physiology, the nervous system, and their application to the dance artist.  Classes include exploration of functional anatomy — bony landmarks, locating muscle groups, and palpation on each other in a professionally facilitated manner. Discussions and physical workshops also focus on injury prevention, rehabilitation from a dance injury, stretching, and basic taping principles.

Creative Process 2, 3

Dancers examine new and emerging areas of thought and practice in the craft of choreography. The course facilitates their journey through the choreographic process, from conception through creation and rehearsal, to performance and evaluation. They investigate the creative process through improvisations; they develop their analytical abilities and their practical skills. Third year students present their own choreographic work as a culmination of the Creative Process course.

Improvisation 1

This course provides opportunities for the dancer to participate in the creative process and to bring form to the instincts of the body and spirit.  The class provides an atmosphere for dancers to discover movement and sound that comes from their own impulses, and to discover, isolate, and practise elements of compositional form through improvisational structures, working towards the evolution of a compositional voice.  Students also attend special workshops in improvisation with guest artists.

Contact Improvisation 1 (not offered in 2020-21)

This course provides opportunities for the dancer to participate in the creative process and to bring form to the instincts of the body and spirit.  The class provides an atmosphere for dancers to discover movement and sound that comes from their own impulses, and to discover, isolate, and practise elements of compositional form through improvisational structures, working towards the evolution of a compositional voice.  Students also attend special workshops in improvisation with guest artists.

Partnering/Contact Dance 2, 3 (not offered in 2020-21)

This course provides opportunities for the dancer to participate in the creative process and to bring form to the instincts of the body and spirit.  The class provides an atmosphere for dancers to discover movement and sound that comes from their own impulses, and to discover, isolate, and practise elements of compositional form through improvisational structures, working towards the evolution of a compositional voice.  Students also attend special workshops in improvisation with guest artists.