Northern light shines on CRP

Elizabeth Johnson building a phrase at Kedja Aarhus. Photo by John Borstel

Scandinavia loves the Critical Response Process! At least the small subset of the Nordic population that we encountered at Kedja Aarhus seemed take readily to Liz Lerman’s four-step feedback process. Last month Dance Exchange’s Elizabeth Johnson and I travelled to Denmark’s second city of Aarhus for this gathering of contemporary dance practitioners from throughout Scandinavia and the Baltic nations. We shared CRP in multiple formats: a one-day intensive workshop for a group of choreographers, dramaturges, presenters, critics and educators; a keynote presentation; and work-in-progress sessions with several of the participating artists. “It’s a system for establishing and safeguarding trust among people who may not know each other. It really works,” is how one of our workshop participants described the Process, and by the end of the conference plans were being hatched to establish regular CRP sessions in several Scandinavian cities. We’d love to see it happen, and know that CRP is in the hands of some excellent facilitators.

We had even more to share related to the conference’s theme of Questioning Agendas. At a session focused on tools and practices, Elizabeth reflected on the breadth of the Dance Exchange’s work and the values of meaning, commitment, and revelation that apply both to seasoned professionals and first time performers. She closed the session by demonstrating our Build-a-Phrase tool. This proved such a hit that she was invited back to wrap up the entire conference by building a final phrase in the gathering’s closing minutes. They were still dancing it at the party later in the evening.

Our thanks to our hosts Christine Fentz and Charlotte Mors of Dansevaerket, who saw to our every need. And note: Denmark may have the best bread anywhere!

The next international stop for CRP is Kilkenny, Ireland, where I’ll be presenting values and mechanics of the Process at an Ireland-wide conference sponsored by Theatre for Young Audiences,  October 26-28.

About John Borstel

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