Kate Grima-Farrell on the importance of improvisation and collaboration in dance


7 February 2017

In this week’s blog, Teaching Artist Kate Grima-Farrell discusses her love of Contemporary Youth Classes, and why improvisation and collaboration are such important skills.

Kate will be teaching Contemporary Youth Classes this term from 14 October – 3 December.

When/how did you start dancing?

I started dancing as a toddler, at the age of three. I was very shy, and even from a young age dance was what brought me out of my shell. I loved having a boogie with the other kids in my class, and have continued dancing ever since.

What is your favourite thing about Contemporary dance?

I really appreciate that Contemporary dance allows you the freedom to move any way you want to. Unlike many other genres, Contemporary allows room for true expression by combining technical aspects of all dance styles, creating a safe space for improvisation, and the chance to discover and refine your own unique way of moving.

I love that Contemporary dance also encompasses multiple forms of expression, including text and visual stimuli. It encourages you to push boundaries, and continuously extend yourself physically, artistically and personally.

What do you think is the biggest challenge in Contemporary?

For me, the biggest challenge in Contemporary is acknowledging the difference between practice and performance. In the studio, it is exceedingly valuable to practise technique and improvisation. However when creating Contemporary dance to be performed on stage, there is an art in adapting your movement for an audience to understand, engage with and enjoy. It is also really important as a performer to have complete confidence in what you’re doing, no matter how weird and wonderful it may be!

What will students learn from your Contemporary Youth Classes?

My Contemporary Youth Classes will have a strong emphasis on technique, improvisation, and working confidently as both an ensemble and as an individual. Students will gain knowledge on dancing safely to strengthen and improve their bodies in class exercises, whist also developing the ability to be comfortable dancing by themselves, in a group and with an audience. We will also touch on creating dance and playing the role of the choreographer. However, the essential ingredient to all of my classes is for the students to ultimately have a lot of fun!

How important are improvisation and collaboration for dancers in contemporary?

Improvisation and collaboration are absolute essential ingredients in a Contemporary dancer’s vocabulary. As a professional dancer, it is increasingly important for individuals to be versatile and confident in their approach to improvisation. Even in a company situation, a dancer’s improvisational skills are often the foundation of creating new work. We improvise in order to solidify ideas and movement, which eventuates into what is put on stage as a performance.

Similarly with collaboration, dancers are continually collaborating with not only other dancers, but artists of different realms including musicians, actors, and lighting and costume designers. It is vital that a dancer is open and willing to try ideas put forward by others, and likewise offer their own artistic ideas to ensure a positive and productive outcome is created.

Photo by Jeremy Phillips.

Term 3 Contemporary Youth Classes run from 14 Oct – 3 Dec.

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