Glenna on the Road in Ireland – October 2021

October is my birth month: an emblem of 73 years of life experience. I spent this past month in Ireland, dancing while aging, falling and rising, and falling again –  letting go of the leaves in an elaborate psychophysical folio of movement, thoughts, emotions and dreams.

I spent a week in Dublin, working with two seasoned community dance artists, Philippa Donnellan and Ailish Claffey on a grant supported* project of Philippa’s called Body of Work. We spent several days together intensively working,  improvising on the theme of caregiving, a plot that thickened with every improvised sole, duet and trio. The grant gave us the gift of exploration without having to meet specified demands, follow a script or agenda or produce an outcome.*Thanks to the Kildare County Council and to Carolann Courtney for their financial support of Body of Work.

 

I then travelled to Galway to teach at the Alexander Technique Centre. The Alexander technique is a roadmap for learning to turn harmful mental and physical reactions into productive responses. The transformative agent? Attending to simple daily actions while receiving hands-on guidance from a teacher while employing a hefty dose of pausing and choosing to redirect one’s being towards a more harmonious state of being and becoming. Alexander teachers use the lightest touch – one that is informative – not formative. This touch makes no demands. Teachers eliminate words that harness a student’s nervous systems to muscular excess (must do, should do, ought to do). The result? An awakening and attending to qualities of ease and freedom on the go.

 

On return to Dublin, I applied my trade to working with music students in a performance class at the College of Future Education in Ballyfermot, Ireland (a suburb of Dublin). This master class was a challenge – helping volunteers one-on-one learn to transform their performance stress into artful expression in less than 10 minutes! This marathon called for my swift attention to the crux of the problem at hand – e.g., physical manifestations of lack of confidence – and finding ways to help the students face their fears with greater poise and possibility. Thanks for Francesca Prendergast for inviting me to work with a wonderful group of youth ready and eager for change.

 

The final leg of the journey was a delightful three days working with the Masters dance students at the University of Limerick. The classes were housed in the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, a fabulous space housing traditional and contemporary arts that at once preserve the old and sustain fused and hybrid forms for the future.
I worked with 12 students from Brazil, Palestine, Ireland, the Czech Republic, China, Taiwan, and Texas (its own country!). Over 18 hours, we danced in an open studio space overlooking a glorious esplanade of greenery and the river Shannon. Masks and social distancing notwithstanding, our time was spent in a meshwork of enfolding and unfolding, playing with principles of grounding and expansion, body patterning, and spatial support. Our partnership unearthed a wealth of movement creation, an alchemically rich compost for going forward

 

 

 

 

the whole trip a gift a play of gravity and gravitas – one to plumb, probe and fathom in the coming days.

 

 

The Fold as Somatic/Artistic Practice

image Susan Sentler & Jamie Forth, dancer Valerie Lim

My colleague, dancer and multimedia artist Susan Sentler and I are going on our 8th year of collaboration on folding as somatic movement, art making and curation. Formerly called Human Origami (http://humanorigami.com), we now are calling our process THE FOLD as Somatic/Artistic Practice. We offer periodic workshops and are open to tailoring workshops for online residencies.  Our courses are geared to persons who share a kinship, correspondence with, or connectivity to, embodiment, including, (but not limited to) dance artists/educators, somatic movement arts teachers, visual- and multi-media artists, architects, teachers in the humanities or science and medicine, essentially those with an aesthetic willing to explore the unknown. We welcome persons interested in, or intersecting with, the arts to join us in exploring this living continuum of dimension and depth. Designed as a generative platform for sourcing creativity, our courses offer a space to transform playful exploration into deeply honed intimacy within art making. The starting point is the body – the somatic body in movement and stillness.  We create an environment that is a sensory rich landscape — an improvisational playing field of inner-to-outer body relationships. Exploration of macro- and micro-folding dynamics will uncover liminal thresholds of becoming – a portal for engaging with the unknown. Enfolding and unfolding patterns will give rise to a tactile imprint – a palimpsest for the emergence of new material. Other stimuli will be layered into the practice: visual images, paper/fabric play, video recording, photography, drawing, automatic writing, and journaling.  Exploring this multi-layered confluence of somatic materials will support the building of meta-skills for making your art of choice.

 

 NOTE: Our work is not product driven. You may choose simply to explore the experiential themes in each class, or to bring a more focused intention to a new discovery or a theme/piece already in progress. The utility in morphing artistic praxis is to evolve new personal methodologies for art research and to hone ways of archive/anarchiving of current and future work.  Further, no movement training is necessary to participate. You need only to bring a level of mature engagement with an aesthetic within your practice, regardless of discipline.

 

Learnings

  • Work with experienced curators to hone critical elements in your art of choice
  • Engage with a collective while receiving supportive and focused mentoring
  • Enrich your experience within a collective that translates across the screen
  • Progress your own somatically rich language to better articulate your process
  • Ignite your imagination through working with tangible and intangible technologies
  • Identify and transform default habits that block creative process
  • Deepen the threads of your own research practice of archive/anarchiving

Welcome professionals of all trades and aficionados of the arts.

For more information, book a workshop for yourself, or interest your institution in our work,

glenna@glennabatson.net

 

 Testimonials

 

“The class leads from interior folds of the body along lines extending outwards into our immediate surroundings and offers a new way of tracing their trajectories and relations. 

Susan and Glenna open a space for thinking and being together that is outside of any discipline or practice, while engaging precisely and gently on immediate concerns.”    

 Sony Devabhaktuni, professor of architecture

 

“Exploring folding…with you has only made me want to go deeper with this practice. Folding feels like accessing those subtle layers of self that we wish to explore as movement researchers and your way of teaching helped remind me that intuition is really at the heart of creative practice.”

Jacquelyn Elder, dancer

 

“Through and with such a rich guidance from periphery to the nature of presence, I find the fold and the folding practice moving me towards a new conceptual understanding of body and self, as the fold focuses towards an indefinite spatial awareness…a renewed anatomy without bounds and movement…a generative opening into the experience of being with.” 

 Peter Mills, independent artist/educator

 

Biosketches

 

Susan Sentler and Glenna Batson first met in 2013 in London at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Since then, they have collaborated on artistic dance and movement research around folding phenomena. Originally entitled Human Origami (www.humanorigami.com), the work has been presented at various conferences, showcased in artistic installations, and taught in educational courses worldwide, including England, Ireland, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, and East Coast USA. As well, the work continues to be disseminated in scholarly journals.

 

Susan Sentler, BA, MACP is an independent dance artist, maker/choreographer, teacher, researcher, director and performer. She has taught and practiced globally in and around the field of dance for over 30 years. Susan’s creative, pedagogic and research practice is interdisciplinary, anchored by a honed somatic relationship to image. She focuses on gallery/museum contexts creating/collaborating on ‘responses’ or ‘activations’ within exhibitions as well as durational installations orchestrating moving/still image, objects, sound and absence/presence of the performing body. Her work has been exhibited and performed in the UK, USA, Europe, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

 

Glenna Batson, ScD, PT, MA is an independent lecturer, researcher, mentor and performer. For nearly five decades, she has honed a trans-disciplinary approach to the study of embodiment, bridging between dance, science, phenomenology, and somatic studies. Professor emeritus of physical therapy (Winston-Salem State University), internationally recognized teacher of the Alexander Technique, Fulbright Senior Specialist, Glenna currently teaches Somatics: Embodiment for the 21st Century for the M.F.A. dance program at Duke University.

 

HOME

CONTACT