Sunday, December 9, 2012

Training Trends: reporting back!

Last Sunday, December 2nd, approximately 30 dance artists gathered at Cafe Cito for the Training Trends meeting. It was great to see so many people out and artists from different generations, engaged in conversation about the training activities in our city. The meeting was buzzing with positive energy and conversations which were productive and can lead us somewhere new. The word, choice, seemed to continue coming up as a value. The training options that are available in Toronto are quite wide in what they offer and the consensus was that this is a strength. People see the value in training which is seen as perhaps more traditional, as well as training that is more research based. The fact that classes which fall into both categories are available to us, is a positive place to start.

The distinction between these two camps seemed to be defined by something which could be viewed as a kind of 'dance maintenance', where you show up and are taken through a class of known vocabulary, which is a great workout and helps you to stay in shape for whatever project you happen to be working on. The other option being a class which may be a bit more nebulous to describe, in which we may be focusing on acquiring new skills, patterns for movement and exploring new methodology in how we use our bodies for artistic practice. We see these kinds of classes being offered more often in a workshop setting as opposed to a drop-in class structure. We spoke of the value of both of these ways of working to the community at large. The descriptions above are of course very general and cannot encompass the scope of all the training being offered. A statement was made at the meeting which may be obvious but struck me as being potent right now. In a climate where there is not much work for independent artists, when talking about training, that activity then becomes my artistic practice in place of actual 'work'. Also the idea that I am working all the time and that everything I do informs my practice, lots of work or not, how I choose to engage physically becomes very important to me.

We were nervous in planning for the meeting because we know that training is a subject that we all have a long history with and is very closely tied to our artistic values, therefore very personal. I think it is impossible to speak about how we want to train without speaking about what we value in our creative practice. It is evident to me that the way I train my body, directly and quite profoundly impacts the work that I make. It is impossible to look at the history of dance in Toronto and not acknowledge that, that history runs parallel to the training lineage we have followed over the years. I'm sure this is true of other communities as well. It seems that there is currently more choice today in 2012 than perhaps there has ever been, in terms of the modes of training available to the community on an on-going basis. This choice allows for artists to pursue their interests and what feeds them in their artistic life by taking ownership of their own training activities by pursuing what is potent and of interest for them.

We also talked about space, community, sustainability, communication, development, partnership and what we could each individually do to affect the change we wanted to see.

Watch for a centralized community training calendar coming soon. Sometimes you express a need and someone answers your call and quickly!

Thank you for everyone who came and those who couldn't but expressed their regrets and asked for these notes. These were my personal take away impressions but if you have your own please leave your comment below!