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Like a puppet on string

03 July 2009

Live blogging from the Teachers' Academy, 1-4 July, Sofia

I've just learned to pretend I'm a puppet. Carla Delfos likes to tell that her great formative experience was when she was six and an artist told her to imagine she was a tree. In the workshop I was just in, May Früh explained to a Bulgarian student what a 'pendulum' is and for half a second she was a clock - and she didn't try to act like one.

This is appropriate, because the workshop was a dance training inspired on Kleist's Über das Marionettentheater. In this text, Kleist compares the good dancer to a puppet: he or she should not overact and put on a show, but follow the center of gravity like a puppet on a string.
Jede Bewegung, sagte er, hätte einen Schwerpunkt; es wäre genug, diesen, in dem Innern der Figur, zu regieren; die Glieder, welche nichts als Pendel wären, folgten, ohne irgend ein Zutun, auf eine mechanische Weise von selbst.

And Franziska Trefzer and May Früh take this literally: they ask you to relax fully and let someone else swing your limbs as if you are a puppet. Try how you can shift the weight, turn the limbs, lift them up, let them fall, turn, follow. And then, switch roles.
This is not just a training for dancers and choreographers: it is aimed just as well at animation designers and other artists that need to understand how the body moves and how it is structured. And it's a way to bring art theory into a lived experience; something Franziska may be pointing at when she refers to growing importance of theory in all forms of art education.

It's a pity I couldn't attend the workshop on street theatre, where people had to fabricate their own costumes with paper and tape and enact an Irish saga with elves, trolls, warriors, and a bull that's killed. Lotte came back from it delighted. (And it was the only thing she was able to attend, after organizing the whole thing.)
But then, you can't attend everything. Simply because there are four sessions at the same time. I hope I get my colleagues to put some of their experiences to blog, because I can´t pretend to give an overview of all that goes on.


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