Having seen many pieces of contemporary work, and been amazed by the teaching in our contemporary pro class, I was excited to finally try it for myself. At dX, Contemporary Adult Beginners is taught by a range of tutors, and this week it was the turn of Laura Vanhulle, a seasoned contemporary and ballet teacher with her own company, Vanhulle Dance Theatre.
The beginning of the lesson was unlike any of the classes I had taken before. We started by exploring the floor with our bodies, improvising the movement. This connection with the floor was the start of what was going to be quite a spiritual and emotional class, something I did not expect.
Laura taught us a routine, starting with the improvised ‘floor exploration,’ which she described as a “self-given body massage.”
We were encouraged to partner up with different people which gave people the opportunity to talk to new participants, whilst improving our technique. During the partner sessions, the room was alive with chatting and laughing, we were there to have fun after all.
Laura would round the partner work off with a group dance, where we were free to create our own movement depending on how we interpreted the music. Halfway through the class, I suddenly thought to myself ‘this is what dancing is.’ Laura encouraged completely free and open movement, with less emphasis on getting the steps right, and more emphasis on absorbing ourselves in the music and engaging with our own bodies response.
At one point in the class, when we had formed a tight circle, I felt a connection between the dancers in the room, we had stripped back all expectations and insecurities, and just danced.
I loved contemporary beginners because any frustration with doing something wrong disappeared. As Laura said “there is no wrong, there’s just dance,” – a sentiment which opened my eyes to the heart of the contemporary style, being free and expressive through whichever movement your body chooses.