Papers: Cylene Walker-Willis, Nina Martin & Ilana Morgan | Moderator: Adriana Dominguez

The Use of Conscious-Shaping to Develop a Dance About Anxiety

Cylene Walker-Willis, Professor
Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma, USA

Abstract: This paper discusses the analysis of the creative process for Room C3. Room C3 was intended to be a work about anxiety by taking internal descriptions of an anxious body and reflecting them externally in a dance. Those descriptions included “cells moving so fast, constant heartbeat, bees inside ears, veins are blurry, broken white noise machine playing all the sounds at once” (Rienks, 2016). Other feelings described included nausea, headaches, fear of impending doom, trembling, twitching, shaking, and tremors (Folk, 2107). This paper focuses primarily on the development phase of the creative process. Developing devices that evolved during the creative process include compositional, sensorial, and metaphorical devices along with examples are also discussed. The analyzing of the development phase of the creative process for Room C3 led to the concepts of conscious-shaping and rightness and how to generate and develop movement centering on an idea. “Conscious-Shaping” is a term described by Blumenfeld-Jones in “The Artistic Process and Arts-Based Research: A Phenomenological Account of the Practice.” Blumenfeld-Jones describes conscious shaping as keeping the initial concept, in this case, anxiety at the forefront of the making process and not diverging from it. Rightness developed from conscious-shaping. The choreographic choices or choreographic frame that made up rightness were what drove the process of conscious shaping through the reading of the dance. Rightness for Room C3 was syncing up the original idea (anxiety) with the practices (devices), and the movement material kept in the dance (Room C3).

Cylene Walker-Willis is an educator, choreographer, and artist. She graduated from Texas Woman’s University with a Master of Fine Arts in dance. Walker-Willis has a passion for facilitating community dance projects. In 1998 she helped build Second Man Ministries, a local liturgical dance and drama company, as a performer. She then became its director in 1999, directing and producing plays, musical dramas, and dances until 2003. Walker-Willis is currently a professor at Oklahoma State University as well as Ballet Coordinator and Hip Hop instructor at Dance Star Productions. Walker-Willis is the owner of Brave Productions and Creative Director of Brave Art Dance Theater in Stillwater, Oklahoma where she has been producing work for the past four years.

Efficacy of ReWire Movement Method for Dancers Living with Cerebral Palsy

Dr. Nina Martin, Associate Professor
Texas Christian University, Texas, USA

Abstract: Efficacy of ReWire Movement Method for Dancers Living with Cerebral Palsy describes Nina Martin’s research with the Body Shift mixed-ability dance group in Austin, Texas over a three-year period. This study focused on three adult Body Shift participants with spastic cerebral palsy (with no cognitive impairment). When dance company members with Cerebral Palsy learned Martin’s ReWire Movement Method (RMM) they reported an enhanced quality of life as measured in terms of quality of life improvements such as grasping, self-induced relaxation with reduced spasms, improved pain management, and increased range of movement as well as improvement in feelings of well-being. RMM teaches dancers to access pre-conscious movement states through a body~brain~time-based approach that is useful as a creative and therapeutic practice. RMM evolved from Dr. Martin’s research into the phenomenon of spontaneous and unpremeditated movement experienced in improvised dance performance. Literature reviews from the neuro and cognitive sciences support Dr. Martin’s research through concepts such as “readiness potential” and phenomena describing how a person’s consciousness lags behind the body’s preparation for neuro-musculature action and thus one’s body is already prepared for action by the time one becomes conscious of performing the action (Libet 2004). Inspired by the research of Benjamin Libet and others, Dr. Martin’s goal with RMM is to “dance in the gap” between preconscious and conscious states of movement. Accessing pre-conscious movement states via RMM appears to positively “reset” or effect the participant’s neuromuscular system and results in reduced spasticity and improved functionality.

Nina Martin, MFA, PhD, developed unique dance systems such as Ensemble Thinking and ReWire-Movement Method (RMM) while on faculty at New York University. Martin’s dissertation research examined the phenomenon of spontaneous and unpremeditated movement generation during improvised ensemble dance performances. Martin received numerous awards for her choreography including six National Endowment for Arts choreography fellowships. Nina teaches/choreographs in North/South America, Europe, Asia and points beyond. Her present research is the application of her dance systems for movement disorders in collaboration with professionals from the medical and scientific fields. Nina is Associate Professor at TCU School for Classical & Contemporary Dance where she conducts Honors undergraduate research in applications for RMM and Cerebral Palsy. Certification in Ensemble Thinking is available. Martin completed her MFA and PhD in 2013 at Texas Woman’s University

Teaching and Dancemaking with Students Living in a County Detention Center

Dr. Ilana Morgan, Assistant Professor
Texas Woman’s University, Texas, USA

Abstract: This presentation shares my experience of creating and teaching a dance curriculum in the Denton Texas County Youth Detention Center over the past two years. This talk will summarize the curriculum created, teaching strategies and activities used to teach and connect with students, choreographic techniques used to help students create together, analysis of the pedagogical importance of this type of advocacy work, and will close with the successes and challenges present in this experience. This paper connects personal teaching practices used when serving populations not normally able to engage in dance instruction with the learning objective and goal of dancemaking and performance. This presentation also advocates for inclusion of incarcerated or detained populations in a vision of dance education for all – especially those who do not have access to arts engagement and opportunities to create. To contemplate dance education as a vehicle to connect communities, to question systems of authority, and facilitate moments of personal agency sits at the center of this work, and I argue offers a model for innovative programming while advancing dance as an art form and dance education as advocacy.

Ilana Morgan, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the BA in Dance with Teacher Certification, and the MA in Dance with a Concentration in Education at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. In addition to teaching dance pedagogy and dance theory courses, she mentors students who are working towards Texas certification to teach dance in public schools for grades 6-12. As an emerging scholar, her research investigates dance pedagogy, preparing and mentoring pre-service teachers, community-engagement practices, and internet/social media as a kinesthetic and pedagogical community experience. Her research pulls from overlapping theoretical areas such as feminist theories, education, community arts, posthumanism, and dance studies. Her work, whether in performance or in written form, seeks to strengthen teaching and learning in the arts through community-engaged arts research as a contribution to the field of dance and the wellbeing of diverse community groups.

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Rubin Center


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