I went into Soft Landing (2012) knowing that the program was designed to assist in the transition from Tertiary education into a professional career and that there was a showing in the end. But that was about all I knew.
I had no idea what the program of the month would be, how the directors would facilitate the program or who the other dancers would be. After my first day working away in the QL2 studios, my mind was blown with the information I had gained from a single day of dancing with Amelia McQueen and Natalie Abbot. Soft Landing was more valuable than I could have ever hoped.
To give a bit of a picture of what Soft Landing can be, I will describe my experience.
Amelia and Natalie came into the program with loose objectives; however we as dancers were responsible for giving input in order to tailor our experience so that we were active learning information that was relevant to us. We worked intensively from 9am – 5pm six days a week. Often the structure of the day would be: two classes in the morning, followed by an improvisation workshops or a third specialty class such as tumbling, we would then go into a round table discussion or chat about aspects of practice, personal development and working in the dance industry, followed by a second workshop. This format however was flexible and was altered daily in response to where our interests led.
For our group of Soft Landers the question “what is practice?” emerged quite early and so our program was tailor to finding and exploring how as individuals, we could establish a personal practice in order to guide our career and maintain a dance practice after University. Gary Barnes gave practical information sessions on personal marketing. For example, through Gary’s sessions we were able to improve our CV’s and resumes with guidance which were then posted on the QL2 website and therefore had real life implications. He also discussed liability, copyright, intellectual property and grant applications.
It was very valuable to have the opportunity to make connections and networks with industry professionals and dancers from different tertiary institutions. We learnt from guest such as Solon Ulbrich, Gabrielle Nankivell and Matt Cornell who challenged our notions of what dance is and could be — as well as highlighting that our career would be heavily dictated by our personal development.
One particular exercise that revealed a lot about how I approach movement was a solo task where the group would instruct you as to what they wanted to see you do for an undefined length of time. It was quite daunting to perform this task as I had no idea what would emerge, the exercise was completely unpredictable. At one point, I was instructed to hum a lullaby and look each person directly in the eye before physicalising my experience of having asthma. The task revealed my habitual movements as well as my strengths, weaknesses and fears.
Instructions that were developed from this exercise and that contributed to our final showing included statements such as:
“Prepare to use the right arm to lead you into the amazing dance. No, you don’t like that your left leg wants to draw a circle. No you don’t like that either.”
“Catch yourself side-on in three inch heels, holding the space just forward of your torso.”
“Hands and knees. Palms and feet”
I have found that what I learnt during Soft Landing has dramatically impacted my practice as a dance performer and choreographer. The information I gained physically, conceptually and logistically will inform the development of my career. I have implemented many of the tools and ideas that we discussed in Soft Landing over the past year.
For me one of the most important things that I learnt was how to talk about dance and the importance of beginning conversations about dance.
I would highly advise any post-tertiary students to apply for this unbelievable opportunity.
Apply Now: Soft Landing 20 May – 16 June 2013
Applications due by 30 November for Soft Landing 2013: ‘Making Good Time’. A fantastic 3-week development opportunity with Amelia McQueen, Natalie Abbott, Sol Ulbrich and Adelina Larsson.
More details on how to apply here. Or contact firstname.lastname@example.org