This year we gave practitioner Brenda Waite a TB Agents bursary to support her attending the ImpulsTanz Festival in Vienna. Here she reflects on the festival and her experiences of The Six Viewpoints Intensive.
The path to ImPulseTanz Festival is already interesting, winding through the leafy gardens and Viennese grandeur of the former military buildings of Arsenal to the centre of Europe’s largest contemporary dance festival.
I was headed to the opening event of this month long festival in which the teachers present an overview of their work through lectures and short performances. ‘Impressions’ was held in one of the many enormous studio spaces filled with dance enthusiasts, the room buzzing with excitement and energy for this participatory event, a fun unifying experience in this big festival.
The Six Viewpoints Intensive kicked off in classical postmodern fashion with random actions and physical activity in the big space. Mary Overlie gave a brief introduction to Postmodernism and the arts from a historical perspective including the traditional hierarchical systems that have existed within classical and modern dance. She spoke about Viewpoints as part of the postmodern tradition moving away from concept of creator/ originator to a training and definition of the artist as an observer/participant. I loved this and it proved to be very freeing.
We were introduced to her method the Six Viewpoints and ‘the materials or perceptual languages that constitute basic deconstructed theatre’. Space, Time, Shape, Movement, Emotion and Story. These materials were in turn a point of focus throughout the week underpinning our daily performative experiments.
Mary Overlie teaches very much from her personality and has eccentric and edgy performative style. I was prepared for the pioneering artist, teacher and theorist but her clown presence was quite a surprise. I felt her open, spontaneous and playful nature served as a gateway into the more intellectual realms of the practise.
The workshop was interspersed with mini lectures around performance philosophy (linking to broader social and ideological contexts) along with amusing anecdotes, an insight into Mary’s artistic lineage. This format as I understand it is part of the pedagogical framework to support our engagement with the materials.
We were encouraged throughout the process let go of the need to make, but rather to sense, ‘contemplate the particles’, recognise and respond to what is happening, to be in dialogue. ‘Rather than making art, you are letting it collect on you.’
I thoroughly enjoyed this week of artistic deconstruction in a generous experimental space with very engaged playful group of people and inspirational teacher. It was nice to feel a strong connection and affinity with this artistic approach, in many ways familiar territory but through a different lens, new language, perspectives and potential.
In my two weeks at ImPulseTanz I found it to be a super busy but well considered, inclusive and vibrant festival. From its open doors policy where the public can sit and observe the workshops to its wide ranging programme of dance classes, symposiums, residences and performances. My lasting impression of this festival will be of the diversity and richness of the world of dance, very grateful to have shared in the feast.
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