Hello Tone Pernille Østern Keynote speaker at CLOSE ENCOUNTERS
When did you have your breakthrough as a teacher?
My "breakthrough" as a teacher came as a student. In 1996 I took part in a workshop led by Adam Benjamin in Brighton. This workshop was my first experience ever of dance improvisation in a context with both disabled and non-disabled dancers. In the workshop, I found a partner to work with and we kept working together the whole day. My partner was a man in his 30’s using a wheelchair, very different from those young female dancers like myself whom I usually improvised with. On a bodily level, my memory of the workshop has nothing to do with ability or disability. Conceptually, though, it was such a surprise to discover that it actually became meaningless that my partner was in a wheelchair. Or more accurately: he gave meaning as the one he was and everything about him and about me was important for the dance we improvised. I learnt tremendously much from our meeting, and from the way our meeting wasformed and guided by the teacher. The workshop presented a way of understanding dance, which I see today as a turning point that my own work pivots around.
What role has the teaching of dance in our contemporary society?
The experience of dance can lift to the foreground the lived body-as-subject, communicating in a world of cultures. Human knowing, learning, understanding, relating and communicating is (em)bodied, and this can be experienced in dance. I think that getting in touch with that lived body is really something unique that dance offers. Dance teaching invites people into this (em)bodied world – a place to create knowledge and communicate as lived bodies.
Why is teaching dance so important?
Teaching dance is not necessarily important, that depends. But when dance is taught, the how of that teaching is of uttermost importance. It is important to teach dance through dialogue in ways that strengthens and encourages the dancers to stretch out as themselves, celebrating the diversity among them. Good dance teaching can really have importance, in dancer’s individual lives, through feedback on society in various ways and, not the least: though having an impact on the dance forms itself. The continuous development of the field of dance pedagogy is crucial, in order to make dance teaching have real importance.