MAKING CONNECTIONS at DOCH/SKH
Once upon a time the brilliant Kristine Slettevold awarded me with the opportunity to teach at the BA program Dance Performance at DOCH––Dans och Cirkushögskolan, aka The University of Dance and Circus at Stockholm University of the Arts, aka Uniarts––following a single interview. This took place some time in February of 2014. I have only just moved to Stockholm a couple of months prior, was studying at the time at the MA program New Performative Practices, and was in desperate need of a job.
The class I taught was initially called improvisation. This was reasonable, I thought at the time, since everything I ever did––and continue to do––at its core regards the notion and the practice of… working in-real-time. And here I cannot help but introduce you to my everlasting dilemma, the one that in a way started it all. You see, I cannot get myself to state that “everything I ever did and do regards the notion and the practice of improvisation” anymore, which is something I once believed to be true.
Without going into too much detail, I eventually reported my discomfort to Kristine and we started talking about the course (of action) that is eventually going to lead to the making of the Making Connections.
I would describe Making Connections as the one course I never got in all my years of studying dancing at a higher level. The course, at least when I teach it, aims at creating the kind of environment of study that enables the student to engage with the reception of knowledge critically. This means asking questions such is: What do I do with the knowledge-experience I’ve been offered by a certain teacher? How do I learn to analyse it, break it down; in order to understand where it’s coming from, why it was created in the first place, how its value changed over the years, in different communities, why it ought to speak to me, why it ought to be valuable for me, should it be valuable for me; and how do I decide?
As far as I am concerned, the course doesn’t exist as a singular tried-and-true methodology. Instead, it changes with the times: it changes according to what the students are studying at any given period. For example, different aspects of dancing in general need addressing when the students are going through a theory-heavy period, from when they are creating their own works, or are working on a repertory project. To be able to do that, the course claims a degree of administrative flexibility, one could say. This is to say that the teacher, as far as I’m concerned, cannot afford to have an agenda foreign to the present state of affairs; at least not at all times. The teacher, instead, enters the room and starts making decisions only after they made an inquiry into the present state of things.
Making Connections is, if I understand this correctly, a special course in that it is the only course created specifically to follow the student from the moment they start their studies at the BA program in Dance Performance until they complete it.
In closing, I would say this course aims to support the students in their effort to tackle the question of creativity, artistry, and emancipation. Because how does one recognise their (authentic) creative midline in a world so deeply concerned with commercial success?