Notes from Brussels: Artistry Rediscovered, Fab Facilitaton

As we move into our final day at Feedback Tools for Creation hosted by Contredanse here in Brussels, we are musing on some interesting discoveries that we’ve been making as a result of bringing the Critical Response Process to a less familiar cultural scene and building an entire week around the skills, disciplines, and possibilities of CRP.

Harold and Boglarka practice the "mutual coaching" variation of the Critical Response Process.

Liz noted that while we have often built week-long choreographic institutes around our generative tools, with CRP playing a supporting role, this is the first time we’ve reversed that equation and put the Process at the center of such a long intensive and called on the generative tools as a kind of support and accompaniment. It was interesting that certain participants who started the week saying that they wanted to learn the Process in order to facilitate, teach, or guide, decided by mid-week that they wanted to make something to show. Indeed the Process seemed to reawaken the art-makers in a few who had set their own artistry aside to focus on other roles. Imagine that: a critique process that actually draws people into the desire to make art rather than inspiring anxiety and avoidance!

Florence coaches Annick.

It’s also been interesting to note how eager the week’s participants are to attempt facilitation and how many of them excel as facilitators, often in their first attempt. This is a contrast with other CRP institutes where the first-time facilitators have been reticent to try and tentative in their first attempts. I’m not sure how to account for the difference. Is it the depth that Liz and I have been able to probe with our participants in this longer context? Is it the kind of advanced-career participant that the Contredanse organizers have been able to attract to this institute? Or is there something in European culture or education that promotes the skills that facilitators need to use?

Julie, Pascale, Florence and Matilde enjoy dance history fortune cookines direct from Takoma Park.

We’ve experienced so many enjoyable moments of interaction and exchange with this wonderful group of European artists and arts professionals. Dance History Fortune Cookies — devised by the Dance Exchange’s Ellen Chenoweth as a component of her Dance History To Go programming back in Takoma Park– were a hit when I brought them out. Workshop participants enjoyed musing over the quotes from dance luminaries like Isadora Duncan, Alvin Ailey, and Martha Graham as they transitioned back to the workshop following the lunch break.

Gael inverts himself out of the cube.

Another unique opportunity afforded by Feedback Tools for Creation has been the chance to do multiple CRP sessions focused on different aspects of a work or on a work as it has developed over the course of the week. Collaborators Gael, Harold, and Vincent presented their “cube” as an art object and interactive environment on Tuesday and then as a component of a performance on Wednesday. Boglarka, who was first to present work on Monday, returned on Wednesday with movement studies for her solo based on that first round of feedback. And then on Thursday evening she presented the material in a synthesized version as part of a demonstration of the Process for a public audience at the beautiful la Bellone — a glassed-in courtyard adjacent to the Contredanse offices. Boglarka jumped head-first into every opportunity and it’s been inspiring to see an artist so courageous in her own convictions and so willing to sit on the nervous edge of discovery as she spoke and listened within CRP’s dialogue format. Bravo Boglarka! Bravo to the whole adventuresome and excellent Euro-CRP group!

About John Borstel

John’s role with the Dance Exchange encompasses functions in documentation, dissemination, and dialogue.