Day One: Trinity Laban Summer School

Having survived the tube and Sunday train delays, I woke up this morning feeling both excited and terrified. I had decided last year to spend the significant amount of cash required to book a place at Trinity laban’s Summer School, and had been wondering ever since if I’d made a big mistake …

I wasn’t concerned about the quality of the teaching or the intensity of the timetable. I was terrified because I was re-entering the world of Dance (with a capital D). Since pausing my dance training due to illness, I had been very wary of re-entering the world of buns and leotards. In the month before the summer school, if felt all-too-familiar panic about how I looked and whether I was too fat. I was appalled to find I no longer fitted into any of the dance clothes I’d abandoned years before (despite my rational mind insisting this was a good thing as when I had fitted into them I was very ill and underweight). A strict diet and running regime commenced, and what had been a grounding yoga practice became 45 mins of me staring in the mirror and hating my body.

As I arrived this morning I was relieved to see people of different ages, shapes and sizes queuing to register. My first class was Feldenkrais technique, followed by contact improvisation and introduction to capo ariel. Feldenkrais technique was a good antidote to the body doubts I’d suffered for the previous month. It took very small movements and examined them very slowly and in great detail. I really enjoyed this way of working, as when I investigate movement my natural reaction is to slow things right down, and allow the space to discover what is going on. This session focused on the hips, knee, and ankle joints and I was surprised by the amount I discovered about my own body mechanics and habits. I was intrigued to see that flexibility was greatly increased through this close inspection of the body; our workshop leader claimed this was a result of non-essential muscles being released. A relaxed muscle is a more flexible muscle, but often we use muscles when they are not required. For me, I noticed this most in my lower back. At the beginning of class the gap between the floor and my back felt hug, but after the movement exploration most of my back was flat to the ground. This was because muscles in my lower back that we’re initially being moved, had been given permission to stop work; they were not needed for the task at hand!!

contact improvisation was next, and what I felt I had some handle on turned out to be a different beast altogether! Luckily there were many beginners in the class, and we started at a gentle pace. Mindfulness of our walking bodies, followed by meeting the floor and other dancers as partners. I was in heaven on the floor, having been given the instruction to ‘open your skin to the floor’ and ‘taste the floor’. On reflection these phrases seem odd, but made totally sense within my experience. Working with others was trickier for me. It’s easier to dance and moved when you can genuinely give weight to others, but that requires an amount of trust as well as everyone consenting to the action. I realised how working with the people on my course had both let an incredible bond develop, but also reduced my skill of working straight away with new people. This was a skill equally tested in capoeira.

so far I have enjoyed the challenges of new people and different techniques, all safe within experienced facilitation. I am anxious of my Cunningham class tomorrow as it’s a technique I have not tried. Then again, nothing dad, nothing gained!!!