Artist and French Students Communicate Through Dance Friday, March 16, 2018
In December, (C3)2 dance artist Kendra Mace traveled to Marnay Sur Seine, France, to collaborate with artists from different countries as well as French children. Ms. Mace’s goal was to broaden the students’ and teachers’ notion of dance by making the art form more accessible. The month-long residency also gave the teaching artist an opportunity to implement skills she had honed while participating in the (C3)2 project.
Ms. Mace was awarded a Foundation Ténot grant, enabling her to attend Centre d’art Marnay Art Centre (CAMAC) in Marnay Sur Seine. Her initial project proposal involved creating movement inspired by nature's beauty. However, the French village was cold, wet, and muddy in December. The teaching artist brought elements of nature into the studio to generate movement ideas. In addition, Sandra Lapage, a visual artist from Brazil, invited Ms. Mace to physically explore her sculpture, which used materials found in nature.
Ms. Lapage draped her delicately knotted sculptures over a support beam in Ms. Mace’s studio. This enabled the sculpture to become part of the teaching artist’s dance collaboration. “The exploration of the sculpture enabled me to use the beauty of nature and to develop new choreographic ideas and teaching methods,” reported Ms. Mace. “I was able to draw insight and inspiration from the visual work.”
Ms. Mace had been told that the French students, ages 8-12, might be shy and not inclined to dance. However, class after class happily participated in a “conversation” involving physical call-and-response. (See video below.) “The students instinctively knew that the human body offers a universal language,” noted Ms. Mace.
Next, the students were shown snippets of the teaching artist's work performed in unusual spaces, such on a sandy beach. She also showed the how Ms. Lapage’s sculpture inspired movement (below).
The students were encouraged to think of other environments. Their suggestions included outer space, a forest, a subway platform, and underwater. An image of each classes’ preferred setting was projected across the studio space to awaken their senses and inspire movement. Working in small groups, the students arranged movements inspired by the everyday actions, and choreographed dances. The teaching artist emphasized the importance of trusting their artist instincts and those of their collaborators.
“I was very pleased that the teaching skills acquired in my work with the (C3)2 project were transferable to a global platform,” Ms. Mace stressed. “This residency showed me how comfortable and competent I have become with the process of integrating the arts across curriculum, culture, and other disciplines.”
Here’s one other dance created by the French students.
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