7.-8.07 workshops with Ambra Bergamasco
On the first day, Ambra explained her viewpoint on dance, body and movement, which, for me seemed a holistic approach. She likes to work with the „inner body“ – i.e not the muscles, but the bone structure underneath the muscles, also joints and the overall bone carcass. She also focuses on the inner energy, the centre and core. It was interesting to keep our eyes opened all the time, as she asked us to be fully aware and not to drift in a dream-like state, which might often happen when doing exercises with closed eyes.
I am very used to closeing my eyes during some movement exercises to sense more deeply my movement and bodily impulses so doing everything with opened eyes, offered some new sensations and also helped to be concentrated on the surrounding space and on the movement of others.
This workshop reminded me a bit of some exercises I have done in different contemporary dance workshops or lessons. For example, the manipulation of body weight, and the exercises in pairs, which were a bit similar to contact improvisation. During the workshop, my sense of gravity and the sense of my own bodyweight became more deep and clear. Ambra asked us to imagine ourselves sucking energy from ground with our feet, while lying on the ground. She also asked us to imagine that air is like a floor and to start experimenting with the sensation of walking or finding support from it while lying on the ground. I really felt how it affected the tiniest muscles inside my feet, and also how the bones became more sensible, my feet kind of widened and opened during this process.
The exercises in pairs and the short improvisation with 4 people were also interesting, letting as to sense the active(giving) impulse and passive (recieving) oppositions. While using core strength we had to balance and stand up while pushing each others backs, sitting with backs oppositing each other. It created an interesting dialogue, based solelyon body impulses and little, slow movements. Like Ambra explained: all you back has to become a listening organ. I really liked how she used the word „listen“ in the context of giving and recieving bodily or physical impulses.
On second day, we worked with gravity and centre, also we played with different chraracters. We started with walking, with the task to embody seasons with each walking. So the first one was autumn, second one winter, the third spring and the last one summer. It was interesting to sense and portray different qualities and essences, for example the emptyness and statics of winter compared to strong and joyful essence of summer. We continued with the same exercise of impulse-reaction and watching body waves and reactions on each other.
Then Ambra asked us to curls ourselves up and try to walk, torso and upper body and hands being light and graceful. The task was to sense the gravitation and to try to relax the legs that were slowly starting to tense up. For me, the task was also connected to balance – once I sensed the right angle and posture, it was easier to move being hunkered like this. After that we had to embody Tiger, moving around in the whole space, maintaining the same feeling of gravity, lowering our centre and straightening our backs. Afterwards we made short improvisations in pairs, embodying the interaction of two tigers. Embodying and animal is quite different from embodying a sensation or quality that is related to your own human existence. Becoming an animal requires in my opinion an excessive amount of imagination as you actually do not know what it’s like to be an animal. You do not know its senses, perceptions, things it percieves in surroundings. So in addition to move like an animalyou have to tranfrom yourself fully and using your imagination and body to create an inner landscape of another species, which is rather complex.
My favourite was the task where we worked with each other’s heartbeat. Firstly we had to curl up in a lap or in other intimate position to listen to our partner’s heartbeat, then we switched organically. This exercise was one of the most interesting I have done during my dance practice. Listening to another heart beating in total silence created a very delicate and vulnerable basis to work with. It reminded how each and every one of us has their own body rhythm (which can be used when dancing) and how it differs from other’s rhythms. After the exercise,we started to improvise in little groups. It was interesting how differently all the participants were solving thir improvisation, some of them were impulsive, moving intensely, quickly, making sharp gestures. Others, including myself, chose a more soft and delicate path. For me, it was the only way possible: to follow the same route of delicacy and vulnarability in my improvisation. And I’m glad I got to do the improvisation together with the same partner, whose heartbeat I had listened to. I think it created and interesting connection and it was easier to read the movements and intentions of other. I also felt more open and vulnerable doing the improvisation after the heartbeat exercise.
(c) Edegar Starke