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Camping 2017: Students Reflections

Daniel Nicolaevsky, student at Les Beaux Arts (Fine Arts School), Paris, and Jhelan Gordon-Salaam, student at University of The Arts, Philadelphia, participated in Camping at Centre National de Danse (CND), Pantin, a two-week platform of workshops with artists of the choreographic field. 

They both shared their experiences with us.

From Daniel

Camping was the best experience I've had as a student at Ecole des Beaux Arts de Paris (Paris' Fine Arts School) so far. The possibility of spending a whole week almost literally camping at Centre National de la Danse - CND (The French National Dance Center located in Pantin) was overwhelming.

The afternoons were dedicated to the workshops (we had to previously register for them). I chose to attend Sylvie Fortin's Somatic Workshop dedicated to the Feldenkrais technique. I'm currently interested in Somatic studies and how to dialogue with my body as a performer and visual artist. The experience was great and I discovered how to get in touch with parts of my body that I didn't know how to access.

During the workshop I was able to dialogue and improvise with other campers from all over the world: USA, Japan, Venezuela, France, and so on... throughout the whole week (event).

During the mornings, day one was information day; day two I shared with three other schoolmates the piece Monumental created by Jocelyn Cottencin that we had learned with Emmanuelle Huyhn and Jocelyn at school during our second semester. It was then performed by our team on Saturday during the Marathon des Écoles. 

Day three I took an amazing class with dancers and performers from Escola de Dança da Maré, from Rio de Janeiro. Day four I enjoyed a rest with several campers during breakfast, and the last day I attended the Giant Yoga Ashtanga class by Mathilde Monnier.

In the evenings, I watched the performances proposed by Camping, Raimond Hoghe's Je me souviens, Katerina Andreou's A Kind of Fierce, and Simon Mayers's SunBengSitting at Le Théâtre du Fil de l’eau. And on Saturday night (the last day) there was this crazy and magnificent night with concert I Apologize by Jean-Luc Verna and Middle Party, where students and dancers from all over the world danced together sharing energy and love until 3am!

This fall I'm going to study for a semester at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). During Camping, I talked with students from the United States about Philadelphia University of the Arts and CalArts, and artists' lives in the US. I had the chance to meet a dancer from Philadelphia who studied at CalArts for a year and we had a great exchange during the event. I already know the name of the best restaurant in California, and got an invitation to go to Philadelphia University of the Arts to do an improvisation session with them!

Camping is definitely the perfect platform for students in the performing arts to meet and share. I can't wait for next year :)

From Jhelan 

My name is Jhelan Gordon-Salaam and I had the opportunity to partake in the Camping Festival at the Centre National de la Danse (CND) this summer with a group of creative individuals representing the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. I am extremely appreciative to speak on behalf of the group and describe my overall experience for the two weeks I stayed in France. Diving head first into this reflection the first thing I was most blown away by upon arrival to the CND was the building. This facility offered so much space to think and be creative and also offered offsite space that allowed me to become familiar with the environment of people and become acquainted with Pantin. I think it’s very important to consider the places in which we work; this also helps us to generate creative thought and processing. 

I found my research at Camping to be successful more or less because of the help in researching dance that was first afforded to me by Vera Mantero’s workshop and thereafter Elsa Wolliaston’s. These two workshops having been so different in context, both left me with a lasting impression that will continue to influence the way I make and approach dance. What was rewarding to me about Vera Mantero’s workshop was the information. Although the ideas that Vera suggested were not completely foreign to me, it was nice to see everything that I read about and studied at school in the United States actually being researched on the other side of the world. It was one thing for me to hear about how art and dance had been changing all over the world; it was another thing for me to experience the shift from being within a different part of the world. Vera’s work focused a lot on "knowing and not knowing" and finding the difference between those elements as variables in the way our modes change in dance. I took away from this class the ability to identify my movement aesthetic (the knowing body) and a listening body (the not knowing body). 

Another great aspect of this class, which made it conducive to me as a student, was Vera’s ability to language her dance practice. Something that I thought less about while being in France was the language barrier. I figured it would have been a lot harder to adjust but fortunately we jumped right into movement and I rarely experienced any confusion when trying to understand what was being asked of me. Also, I learned that Vera’s language inspired me to become clearer in my efforts to language anything. 

Collaborating with people from different backgrounds allowed me to experience the social side of France and how people appreciated conversation and understanding. As far as understanding goes, I had a quite different experience in Elsa Wolliaston’s workshop simply because of the language barrier. However, it was because of dance I was able to understand all that I needed to know in this African class. Having taken four years of French in high school I was able to understand that Elsa languaged dance through imagery. A lot of times she compared African dance to a race car, describing how one must remain low to the ground to acquire power, speed, and release in movement. I could understand because African dance is something that I have been trained in for many years prior to this workshop. However, something I took away from this intensive was the idea of gathering the energy from the ground and being engaged in performance dialogue with the accompanist. Knowing that African dance was a true test of endurance, the one thing I could always rely on was music to get me through. I experienced real feeling, real exhaustion, and real energy simultaneously within this workshop and from it gained new strength.

Aside from the workshops, I learned how to spectate and receive information just by watching. The performances were all so information packed and stimulating. I was also able to exercise my interest in drawing in the morning classes with the artists that came from le Pavillion at Palais de Tokyo. I was offered so much experience and I’m grateful that the space to explore was mine to indulge in.

With more to come,
Jhelan Gordon-Salaam 

 

MERCI, Jhelan and Daniel

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