Feedback from Students on Kurt’s teaching:
Kurt has a great capacity to be present with others, and to encourage and support others in being present with themselves. He offers me tools to make more conscious choices about how I relate to place, sensation, and flow – and also to how I make choices with others based on a sensitized listening. His work and its profound results all centers on this. His vehicle is teaching dance and movement, though what I experience from the work is something deeper: the result – whether expressed in movement or simply being – is being more gracefully alive, sensitive and expressive in my whole life.”
Samarra Burnett; Argentine Tango teacher, Founder of the CONNECT Festival
Workshops Seattle Fall 2015 & August 2016
…Since a very long time I've "abandoned" dancing and have been diving into the deep waters of yoga. These two aspects of moving and living (dancing and yoga) seem to be very close, though I often feel they just never meet. I’m grateful to have felt this connection while working with you!
Feeling, hearing, observing, sharing space with people, and creating new experiences were the most important aspect of the workshop. Following structures while being creative and free, using our voice, creating relations of trust, harmonically seeing myself through the others and within the others was a part of what I experienced.
This workshop also guided me to translate N.L.P. (Neuro Linguistic Programming) theory into movement!
The way you guided us was really fantastic, creating this feeling of need to jump into the group, to come into touch to dive into ourselves while exploring the power of the group or the one to one relationship.
Your energy was uplifting , strong and smooth.... Perfect. I really would like to have some more days of exploring space and bodies and movement with you showing the path.
I also loved the way you connected the work in the studio with our everyday life! And it is sure those small transformations concerning my everyday life have occurred since the workshop. I look forward to the next workshop!!!
Athens, Greece Workshop, October 2016
“Your workshops were awesome, eye-opening and I was left craving more. I found them very useful for enjoying Contact Improvisation even more. I felt like another world of understanding of my movement through space and my contact with other people opened up, a perception I was never aware of before.
I kept thinking, “Wow, this is so simple and so cool!” I felt deep appreciation of this knowledge and I felt simple joy inside of me, like a kid who has just discovered something new for the first time."
Natasa Lazetic, EFT Certified Practitioner
Workshops Orcas Island July 2016
"The strongest impression I have from the workshop is this new ability I found to look people in the eyes and not be afraid of it.
Your way of using language and choosing words to use in the class leads to an almost complete absence of judgment. That makes it possible to see people for what they really are - and to be seen for what we are. This was great!
And in terms of dancing this way of perceiving and working gave me a much clearer perception of the space, distances and densities. My body found a beautiful support in this."
Florence, Italy Workshop September 2016
“How did the work help you to grow or expand your awareness
about choice-making, in dance,,, or in life?:
“Sunday morning at home with the children, I had a sense of ideal communication with them, and I had this child overall simplicity, this quality that you recommend us to try in duets (light contact, journey through space, pause, say yes or no).”
Kurt’s manner of teaching is a manual for the big questions of life!
This was a great work and I have the image of travelling with others in a soft flying magic carpet. Thanks you for the opportunity to write and clarify my thoughts!”
Athens, Greece Workshop, October 2016
“A somatic and curious soul, Kurt uses dance and movement to investigate the human condition. His work brings us to our felt sense of place, self and others. He offers us a supportive invitation to connect, rather than manipulate -- to feel what it’s like to just be with ourselves in the ever-changing present. In doing so, he presents us tools for self-advocacy and instinctual intelligence.
Kurt’s work focuses on awareness, allowing, and refining sensation and expression. He instills a fascination with nuances and subtitles of communication. The byproduct is a personal art that expresses the depth of the human condition and mysteries of feeling we can’t explain.
“Kurt’s teaching and his being provide us time and space to feel human without judgment. The insights I gain from Kurt are applicable wherever and however I carry myself. He is a portal for unearthing creative wisdom.”
Workshops Seattle Fall 2015 & August 2016
Athens, Greece Workshop, October 2016
"Kurt Koegel is an inspiring force in the world of contact dance. He brings genuine and thoughtful exploration into each class he teaches. I always feel safe and heard when working with Kurt. His style teaches students to bring a communicative presence to each dance, weaving the felt experience of the dancers into a physical narrative. Kurt excels at bringing students in the zone by making them feel safe, and allowing their moment to moment experience drive their movement."
Workshops Seattle Fall 2015
"The teaching of the work is structured in such a good way, it is broken down from the very primal basics to utilizing open space and learning to stop & slow. You gave me the attention I needed and presented it in a non-threatening way.
You encouraged me and spoke about my skills as growing into the empty space without limit. You knew what I needed in my improvement and gave me examples on how to improve, like the metaphor you gave me about slowing down 100 notches!”
Workshops Seattle August 2016
“I appreciated the clarity and the frankness of the statement: ‘I’m not interested in graciousness if I’m not feeling comfortable, rather to be interested in consciousness’, and also as you gently guided us away from ‘sensationalism’. I was guided through the seminar by your simple directive to play with Simplicity in movement, a "non ornamented" approach. I also enjoyed being introduced to the “Focusing” methods!
My awareness feels expanded about such things as: spatial perception, body signaling, focusing, self agency, and the process of reflection. I also loved exploring various “grades of contact”, ranging from the imperceptible touch (the "bonsai exercise") to tone work and weight exchange work.
I appreciated the way you continually guided the workshop with discretion and towards connection. I would describe your teaching style as courteous, empathetic and synchronized.”
Athens, Greece Workshop, October 2016
“How do we really start to move and start to stop? How much expectation is hidden in this transition? Do we experience both states as they are or do they melt in to each other and creating a consequential sequence!
Choose to move. Choose to stop. Choose to move. Choose to stop. Choose to choose. Start the movement of choice.
I began to feel the ‘responsibility of choice’ as a sense. What is the interpretation of responsibility into movement? Possibly not as patterned as responsibility sounds. This responsibility brings the freedom of choice forward! Sovereignty along with responsibility for the community!
We move around another body – we transform this wandering into an active embodied interaction which holds our individuality.
Exploring the non-intentional connection: In your Hot Wax / Cold Wax exercise, I discovered “I don’t need you but I’m beside you in response”. This symbiosis creates ‘syn-kinesis’.
I would love to see this work become a kind of site-specific dance lab. Architecture in consciousness and in not so neutral spaces could elaborate a lot of beautiful ‘endings’.
Kurt you are a moving treasure, thank so much again for being so generous!”
Athens, Greece Workshop, October 2016
This is the course offering for several of the Summer 2017 European workshops:
Florence, Sesto Fiorentino, Italy
“Owning our Space” Workshop
22. – 24. June 2017
30 June – 2 July 2017
6. – 9. July 2017
17. – 21. July 2017
Tanzfabrik Summer Workshop Intensive
24. – 28. July 2017
Embodiment and Connection
Nurturing Personal Choice and Fulfillment in
Partner Dancing and Group Improvisation
with Kurt Koegel
This workshop focuses on skills for listening and communication in group improvisation and partner dancing. The practices will develop:
· our awareness of our self, other and environment,
· the choices we make for self agency and fulfillment,
· and the ability to express and communicate these choices in moving partnership.
The goal is delicious dancing that satisfies our desires for both freedom and connection.
The course offers practical listening and choice-making strategies: crafting the performance of perception and emphasizing the gateways of change.
We will also learn precise, easy to use, techniques for creating a sense of safety, trust and fulfillment in our danced interactions. These ‘unseen skills’ of contact improvisation are not flashy - yet offer delicious results.
Further, we’ll consider our craft of expression: realizing our bodies as not only the container of feeling but also the generator of imagery.
· Inner Space - Physical training: Embodiment practices and solo movement inquiry that provides us with a set of skills for listening to ourselves in space and interaction with others.
· Inter Space (The Space Between): Charging the space between ourselves and others. Working in duets or small groups, exploring ways to source movement from spatial and movement cues - and how our inner state changes through encounter with others in space
· Materials for Deepening Connection: Developing connections through proximity, orientation and touch. We will reference and sometimes use skills from contact improvisation, physical theater and real-time composition – however, our aim is a dance that is not defined by any of these styles. The emphasis will be on connection rather than technique, refinement rather than acrobatics.
· Viewpoints of Instant Composition: This physical theater toolkit is a menu for making choices about how we locate and orient ourselves in space and in relationship to others; a method for generating movement material based on listening and response; a way of facilitating us making intuitive compositional choices.
· Compositional Sets: During longer sets of dancing, we will improvise in duets, trios or small groups. There will also be opportunities to reflect and integrate with partners. The intention throughout the weekend is on increasing our sense of presence, spaciousness and fulfillment – savoring the experience as we live it.
RDT Summer Dance Workshops "Then & Now"
Salt Lake City, Utah
June 17 - 28, 2013
Compositional Skills Suite:
Developing skills of observation and decision-making for movement research, choreography and performance.
A course for dancer collaborators, choreographers and teachers.
This intensive will draw materials from three related subject areas: Viewpoints of Composition, Contact and Partnering Skills, and Real-Time Composition.
News from Salt Lake City: We have a wonderful, cohesive, inspired group of 16 professionals and university dance majors, and are just beginning our second week. On Friday, 28 June at 6:00pm we will be sharing our work in a performace at the Black Box Theater of the Rose Wagner Center. Admission is free! Please come on by!
One of the participants, Anne Marie Robson Smock, a SLC choreographer, is writing an impressive day-by-day blog about the intensive. I didn't even know she was doing this, and am so moved by her reflections and sharp descriptions. You can read this blog at:
This coming Saturday’s class (June 15th, 12:00 – 14:00) will take place at:
“10 Degrees – Performance Art Space”
14th Avenue & East Union (just 4 blocks from Velocity Studios)
This beautiful studio and performance space has been offered by KT Niehoff for this weeks class. We’ll have the opportunity to work in a beautiful environment with a wood floor and floor to ceiling windows. Check out views of the space at: www.lingodance.com/10degrees/
It was another wonderful group of 12 people this past Saturday - with a mix of new and familiar faces. There feels to be a fine momentum building and we enjoyed some special, presence-filled moments of dancing in scores. There develops also an ease in the exchange of information and research practices. A freedom to ask questions and fluency in sculpting our way around answers with words and demonstrations.
Before getting into a reflection about Saturday’s session, I’d like to recall the question one of you asked me before class began: “Is it ok to join today - or does the class build on the material of the first lessons?”
Let me first digress a little from the specific question. I would definitely say that my preferred teaching format is that of an Intensive. Specifically, one or two weeks of 6 hours per day, divided into 3-hour sessions with a leisurely community lunch in the middle. I’ve had the luxury of this format often in Europe, and it’s amazing to see the amount of development that can transpire for individuals… and how the cohesion and trust levels in a group elevate to such a fine peak -- lending to breathtakingly magical moments. One such memorable workshop like this was for several summers running at La Galpon in Geneva, Switzerland. After three hours of skills oriented work, we ate French-family style at big tables on a patio before three more hours of composition and dancing scores, ...and after the sessions, floating and swimming lazily in the frothing, aqua-blue currents of the river L’Arve.
(What was the point?)… That although it’s beautiful to see people coming back - and I do sense that that those people have the greatest opportunity to experience significant development, I’m doing my best to structure the lessons as complete, self-contained experiences with their own themes and trajectories. I’m also experimenting with, and enjoying the re-iteration of material and the reviewing of materials that has been occurring the last two weeks as part of the process. I’m also very interested to receive feedback from those of you who have done the work as to how you experienced both: the reviewing of past material (eg., is it distracting or boring… or rather, does it help to deepen the interest, understanding and accessibility of the material? And, shall I indulge in this aspect of the sessions more… or, trim it down a bit?)
So, again, the short answer: I think it’s great to see a nearly even mix of returning and new participants. I have a sense that the work quickly cross-pollinates and filters into the group mind and the individual awareness of the attentive minds and bodies that have been exploring together.
It is also a great delight to see a mix of backgrounds in relationship to partnering and contact improvisation. I am truly appreciating and relishing the subtle, tangential way we are approaching touch and partnering -- and the consequent level of attention and interest of all the participants: the willingness to restrain from normal Contact Improvisation patterns and vocabularies and follow the journey into something new and different.
In fact, I often think that this ability to change patterns is really the fundamental, and most important thing anyone can learn, or rather: it is a natural skill that we continually hone. I like to think of my role in this work as a facilitator of the process of changing patterns. In simple ways this can be a practice that we engage in on a regular basis, as an elemental way of keeping our facility of change active: listening for variation in how people pronounce their name, learning to say a word from a foreign language, doing a daily activity (like brushing one’s teeth, opening a door, taking the stairs,…) in a new way or with the non-dominant side of the body.
On a larger scale, I think this is a reason I’ve been drawn to living in so many different countries and cultures: I’m attracted to existing in a state of normative relativity. That is: by moving between cultures, one can no longer automatically rely upon a certain code of communicative, social or physical behavior. The resulting disorientation, in my experience, encourages different ways of seeing the world and one’s place within it. It can also be leveraged towards discovering fresh perspectives to problems or situations.
Back to the session on Saturday.
The themes of Interval and Types of Friction were first introduced, with the intent of framing the day’s research as we explored these concepts in a variety of practices.
We began by revisiting the warm up of the week earlier, in a new way. We explored our standing and spinal alignment in three axes, and considered the functional use of stretching or the action of tendu – apart from any formal association. How do our legs and arms work to assist us in our vertical posture and locomotion by reaching, gripping, sticking, sliding, placing, stepping and rooting.
We moved on to perceiving Interval physically though change of movement and position. We recalled last weeks devices of displacement and five levels of support, as well as two ways of perceiving our relationship in space: in relationship to others and in relationship to the container or setting. We also worked with prepositions: words and concepts that express relationship. It was exciting to see this process develop into a beautiful, fluent compositional set, scored by the range of research concerns – and to see it develop further as we re-introduced last weeks work with simple, non-dependent touch, while focusing on the variations of friction in the touch.
During this set, it felt deepening to remember and express two general themes of presence we’ve been discussing over the past weeks. The first is about the Savouring of Stillness. I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of savouring since reading The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky. (http://thehowofhappiness.com) She speaks about the concept of savouring as a pathway to a richer sense of presence and fulfillment. I began to notice that as dancers and performers there can sometimes be the tendency to value movement and de-value moments of stillness. An alternative approach can be to delight in the gathering of sensory and perceptual information about ourselves and our surroundings, presencing in the moment, and nurturing our experiencing of the composition or performance. Cultivating this reflexive awareness, in such an ephemeral art form, can foster a more lasting and fulfilling experience of ourselves and the event.
Following this score we shifted gears. We sat down and spoke about the quality and experience of different types of friction with our skin on the floor. While speaking we also did for ourselves some very simple experiments with these themes. I’m continually impressed with how much our bodies can learn by doing these kinetic facilitation exercises.
This tactile work led us back towards using Interval to change positions and levels (referencing the work from Week 2) and working in close proximity without touch.
One of the images I like to refer to when creating positions is that of a Bonsai tree. I like this image for the compact complexity of form, the delicacy and serenity of something long lived, and the balancing of rooting and reaching vectors so intimately related. Sourcing from this concept, we began Entering the Landscape, observing the unique pleasure and subtlety that can be enjoyed while moving close to an embodied, complex subject. This work provides such a potential for evocative relationship and form, and is something I so often miss in performances and open jam situations. When the two participants met in their additive form or configuration, they would then also explore precise use of friction of surface touch. Having introduced the image of Bonsai or a delicate landscape always heightens my sensibility and creates a mind state conjuring a sun-dappled landscape.
We then took the work to the standing plane with a practice I like to call Hot Wax / Cold Wax, whereby one mover approaches another who is still and morphs delicately to their body, with an emphasis on the distortion of the spine and not giving weight or any sheering force. After a sequence of transitions we continued the same exploration with each mover composing independently in the dimension of time or Interval. This led to a delightful tone and quality of listening as the duet scores re-introduced the full range of touch, surface and types of friction in their dances.
This coming week I shall like to take the work to a further plane to look at the idea of Shifting Center to Signal Invitation for the possibility of supported or perched weight. I also want to introduce a real-time composition score that facilitates an approach to Entering and Exiting, as well as the practice of Observation Scores.
Some other thoughts from the weeks work:
Aligned with the theme of pattern changing and disorientation, I’m really enjoying a dialogue with the German language in class. We spoke about the Onomatopoeic sound of Schleifen and Reiben, two words for describing surface friction in German. I’m enjoying putting out these unfamiliar words that have an immediate feel and imagery, and that are foreign to the mind and body. I intend to deepen into this practice in our lessons.
This Saturday will be the last class before a 4-week break. After the class on the 15th of June, the next class will be on the 20th of July.
Looking forward to seeing some of you on Saturday!
Ps: I really enjoy getting feedback from those of you who have written. It’s very interesting for me to hear if anyone is reading these lines, and if so, are they useful or thought-provoking? I’m also interested in hearing if you find them too long, too complex, too... All feedback is very welcome!
 Using Kinetic Models for Facilitating Behavioral Re-patterning. K. Koegel, Berlin, 2008. www.kurtkoegel.org/writings/on-dance-pedagogy/using-kinetic-models/
I want to thank everyone for the great energy last Saturday! We had a vibrant group of 12 people who came into the studio on a marvelously sunny day, though – the beautiful Kawasaki studio with it’s natural light and huge West-facing windows feels almost as if being outdoors!
I was so happy that the group was composed from such a diverse set of backgrounds: there were professional dancers, people who’s focus is contact improvisation, and others who have a blend of dance interests and just want to be in the studio for fun. It’s exactly the mix I had imagined and find so exciting to work with. With a group of very different experience ranges I often experience such a sense of immediacy and presence in the work – and I felt we found that on Saturday.
It’s my experience that when I introduce the themes of a class beforehand, I may be tempted to improvise and drift away from my intent into some other interests. Nevertheless, with these sessions I’m wishing to set the bar high for myself and the group and therefore began with a brief outline of the day’s aims. I felt we did pretty well balancing a gathering of new skills – and a sense of flow and dancing. I’m very interested in how we can program our pattern-changing-capacity, and how everyone can use this work to develop their dancing in open environments. Towards this end, I want to keep labeling and identifying the skills, methods and crafts we use to work; our compositional methods; and the ways scores are defined.
We began by focusing on craft with tools for sourcing movement. I shared a paradigm I’ve developed in response to a feeling of constructive discontent with existing ideas about floorwork & standing work, or three levels: low, middle high. This model of Five Levels of Support has served me well, and functions to provide some useful solutions for stability of the architecture of the body, especially when working with partners or groups. We also examined a tool I use to generate movement, without needing to be creative. This idea is that of displacement: completely vacating the space one had been occupying before the movement. When these two ideas are combined, many people experience that they are creating very interesting material with ease. I am extremely interested in developing methods for producing work that short-circuit the ‘need to be creative’.
Throughout the flow of the day, I also sought to integrate the themes from the first class, such as rooting and reaching; seeing negative space; sourcing from sensing of overlapping kinespheres; and, zooming in on transitions by attending to every little adjustment.
We began composing in our dancing by introducing the idea of the basic compositional unit. We explored this by confining our exploration to the sequence: stillness – movement – stillness. This sequencing inclined us to research impulse, position and transitional movement in a manner that encouraged very present moments of stillness – wherein the mover took readings of the organization of space and bodies surrounding his/her resonant form. From this basis we began exploring what I refer to as the mover-partner practice with an exercise called, One Touch / One Impulse. I always find the awareness of my own movement and position in space amplified and heightened by this work, and I hope you all felt that as well!
Gradually this form was loosened and expanded in terms of timing and touch, while the partner was continuing to be careful not exert influence on the mover. (We will explore the Gradient of Influence in further sessions.) The questions and observations that arose expressed a high level of awareness about one’s own movement and attention to the relationship. I sensed that it was exciting to be so connected and synchronized with another, while not manipulating or influencing the other. Also, I sensed an excitement emerging when mover’s began actualizing the freedom not to react to touch. This work draws the idea of inhibition from the Alexander work into the context of partner dancing. My observation is that a much richer exploration of relationship, meaning and composition can develop when the relation between touch and influence is deepened and taken past an immediate cause and effect association.
For a good, simple definition of inhibition, see the following page: http://www.hilaryking.net/glossary/inhibition.html
We flowed into an open score during which time we could: work alone, work as a mover, or act as a partner – but we avoided mixing the roles.
We then explored one simple way of using body contact in a non-leading / non-following form, with an exploration called: tone matching. We used this method to find a balancing of forces, and set a constraint that the contact surface must remain vertical in relationship to the floor, to avoid any top-loaded weight.
Our session ended with a simple structure of using these various methods for partner dancing while moving through space, until we opened space and directionality to integrate all the work from the day in an open score. It was exciting to see a set of dancing that was free and inspired, while at the same time informed by the research of the day and with a high level of communication and trust.
Some closing thoughts:
In some ways it’s a bit strange to be writing so much about these sessions, but as I wrote in the description: this class is providing me an interesting platform to reflect upon my body of work during this career transition. I hope these words can also be of value for the participants and any other readers.
In this writing I’m using many specific terms, that I’m putting in italics. My intention with this is not to use a tricky device, or to be jargony (“language that is characterized by uncommon or pretentious vocabulary and convoluted syntax and is often vague in meaning”). Rather, my intent is to follow the description I wrote for the course, which is to: clearly define terms and methods; to identify and explore common vocabularies for dancemaking; and, to provide participants with usable tools for their own choreographic and improvisational work.
It’s also my wish to put these words out in the world to stimulate an on-going conversation. If anyone has responses, reflections, questions or arguments with anything I’m writing here, I would enjoy receiving an email and taking that conversation further!
Finally, let me add a little disclaimer. When I do put words out into the public sphere, I’m used to subjecting theme to intensive re-writing and wordsmithing. These notes are a new attempt to put writing out in a bit rougher form and more conversational voice. Again, any feedback about this is very welcome! Also, if you would like to read more about my thoughts regarding writing about dance, I welcome you to check out this short article, http://www.kurtkoegel.org/writings/on-dance-pedagogy/why-do-we-write/
Again, thanks to all of you coming to join the conversation in the studio, and I’m looking forward to our next sessions!