My overall teaching practice is highly influenced by my experience in practicing, teaching, and training teachers to teach Open Source Forms (OSF).
OSF, founded by American dance artist and master teacher Stephanie Skura in 2008, is a fluid expansion of Skinner Releasing Technique (SRT), developed as a revolutionary way of learning by Joan Skinner in the 1960’s. The work focusses on the cross-fertilization of physical practice and creative process. It is guided by the philosophy that the source of creativity and wisdom is available in each of us. The OSF “open source” system offers specific tools to access depth, specificity, courage, rigour, integration, presence and freedom in movement, vocal practice, creative process, and performance. Simultaneously it empowers participants to adapt these methods and to discover their own to best suit their needs.
The nature of the working process is web-like and cumulative. Each session is unique and draws on modalities of touch, deep-state imagery, alignment-focused exercises, and scores for improvisation. The sessions promote experiential learning, allowing for the timing of each individual’s process of discovery and integration, working both together and alone but in community. In this way, people of all levels of experience can explore alongside each other, tailoring the work to their individual capacities and needs.
I have been practicing SRT and, subsequently, OSF since 1996 and the work is a foundation of my total artistic practice as an interpreter, as an improviser, as a teacher, and as a creator. In addition, I possess a long history and rich foundation of teaching experience, having taught at institutions and organizations including The School of the Toronto Dance Theatre (ON, CAN), T.O. Love-In (ON, CAN), l’École de Danse Contemporaine de Montréal (QC, CAN), Studio 303 (QC, CAN), TransFormation (QC, CAN), L’École de Danse de Québec (QC, CAN), l’Artère (QC, CAN), Crimson Coast Dance Society (BC, CAN), Mascall Dance (BC, CAN), E.D.E.N. Studios (Berlin, Germany), the Istanbul International Improvisation Festival (Turkey), in Graz, Vienna, and countless hours of online teaching during the 2020-2022 COVID pandemic.
Since 2012, I have worked alongside Stephanie Skura as faculty for the OSF Teacher Training Program. Participation in my workshops counts towards the pre-requisites required to pursue Teacher Training.
Depending on the setting, my teaching weaves in elements of my experience working with master vocal teachers Richard Armstrong (Roy Hart School) and Fides Krucker (Emotionally Integrated Voice), and master improvisers Lisa Nelson (tuning scores), Stephanie Skura and Ruth Zaporah (Action Theater), as well as my personal creation and performance practice as choreographer, composer, and improvising dancer-musician. I am also inspired by my ongoing practice of Emilie Conrad’s Continuum Movement with master teachers Kim Brodey and Linda Rabin.
After 20 years of study and practice with my vocal teacher, Fides Krucker, in July 2023 I will have completed the inaugural, two-year teacher training in the method she has developed: Emotionally Integrated Voice. Through both practical and theoretical study, this work examines and supports how our physiology and our emotions can work together to create sustainable, embodied and intentional vocal expression, communication, and play. The practice combines many of the foundational tools from the Roy Hart School (Richard Armstrong being one of Fides’ core teachers), along with influences from Kristen Linklater’s work, European bel canto technique, and Fides’ ongoing practical research. Fides has recently released a phenomenal book about her practice: “Reclaiming Calliope – Freeing the Female Voice Through Undomesticated Singing“. A review can be found here.
I am currently actively integrating this method into my teaching, performance and creation practices both explicitly and implicitly, and since the winter of 2023 I have been on part-time faculty at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre teaching their “Music 1: Voice” course. I have also begun a private practice of voice teaching both online and in my home studio. The tools EIV provides support my ability to foster my students’ experience and crafting of their full physicality and creative expression to include their voices.
In every facilitating/teaching context, I come with a deep respect for the wisdom and experience that each student/participant brings with them. My aim, first and foremost, is to nurture and appropriately challenge each person’s unique and ongoing process.
Throughout my career as a creator, and particularly in the last ten years, I have sought a total integration of the dance and music aspects of my practice, influenced by my internal, holistic experience of moving, sounding, and listening. I call this embodied music: the experience of movement as music and of sound/music as movement, where the two forms, in dialogue, remain simultaneously distinct and interchangeable, to create a listener/viewer experience that blurs the lines between what is heard and what is seen.
Current & Upcoming
Fall 2023 news coming soon! I’m taking a break from teaching this summer to focus on creation, recording and performance projects.
Open Source Forms, OSF with Improvisation & Creative Process, and OSF with Voice & Movement
Duration and Format: Anywhere from one 4-hour session to five or ten 2-4 hour sessions
All three of the following workshops take, as their basis, the basic OSF method as foundation (as described in Teaching Practice). All three also include elements of improvisation and creative process as well as the integration of voice, but depending on the context and time, greater emphasis can be placed on any of these elements. All workshops are suitable for adults of any background, professionals and non-professionals alike.
Open Source Forms (OSF)
This workshop focuses on the basic introductory-level canonical releasing material fluidly expanded from Joan Skinner’s Skinner Releasing Technique (SRT), further developed by Stephanie Skura and then adapted by me to meet the specific needs of the participants. If we consider Open, Source, and Form as verbs instead of nouns, we can approach the class as an opportunity for opening; sourcing or resourcing; and un-forming to reform or to find new forms. In this way, the work is made of the same stuff as creative process and prepares us to access more complex layers of our creativity.
OSF with Improvisation & Creative Process
Supported by the groundwork of the above material, this workshop includes the exploration of scores for improvisation that employ movement, voice (spoken and sounded), writing and drawing. Some basic guiding principles and intentions include: our voice is a part of our physicality; the movement of physical energy can travel fluidly across modes of expression (movement, sound, language, image); any task or score is only the map for a physical experiencing that reveals the territory to be discovered and developed.
OSF with Voice & Movement
Once again, supported by the basic OSF groundwork, this workshop brings focus to the use of voice and its integration into the expression of our whole bodily instrument. My approach is highly influenced by 20 years of study with master voice teacher Fides Krucker and her Emotionally Integrated Voice method in which I am currently pursuing teacher training. Basic objectives include: familiarity (through both anatomy and imagery) with our vocal structure and alignment to support healthy integration with our physicality; developing an easy intimacy with our breath; warming of our full physicality – including our physical self, our voice, and our creative muscle; developing a palette of sounding that employs texture, pitch, dynamic, and rhythm; developing an equally autonomous and integrated relationship between voice and movement; sounding in deeper states guided by imagery; translating physical/vocal states into word-play; using embodied imagery to create text and drawing scores as a vehicle for our voices to speak, sound, sing, and communicate our own meanings in relation to others.
Dance and Music Integrated Improvisation
Duration and Format: Anywhere from one 4-hour session to five 2-4 hour sessions
In this workshop for both dancers and musicians I invite all participants to explore connection through both movement and sound as a way to create an experiential understanding of, and common language for, the symbiosis between dance and music in improvisation. We will operate on the principal that, fundamentally, we all possess an “interdisciplinary” instrument for both movement and sound – the body in space in time – and that sound is physical and movement is musical. The session is supported by my practice in Open Source Forms and its focus on releasing holding patterns in order to allow for greater freedom physically, vocally, responsively, and creatively. From this base, and employing both the body (physically and vocally) and other musical instruments, we will explore improvisational scores that highlight the elements of time (rhythm, tempo, duration), space, dynamic, texture and image. We will focus on creating relationships along the continuum from merging to contrast in duos, small groups, and the whole ensemble.
Duration and Format: Anywhere from one 4-hour session to five 2-4 hour sessions
This workshop, aimed at both dancers and musicians explores the use of poetic text as the central and cohesive actor in the synthesis of dance and music and the basis for the creation and development of integrated Song/Dances by the participants. It is highly influenced by the work I have been engaged in since 2008 in song form with composer/trombonist Scott Thomson. In its vocal utterance (itself a physical activity), poetry offers a full musical package of rhythmic structure, phrasing, melodic modulation, texture, dynamic emphasis, and through all of these, meaning. I consider this derived meaning to be its own rhythmic or musical semantics, emerging from within or from underneath the words through the physical activation of their inherent qualities (listed above) in sound and movement.
Beginning with the basic groundwork of the above-described Improvisation workshop, this workshop will go on to use borrowed, pre-existing texts, with which participants, working in interdisciplinary duos, will unearth a rhythmic and melodic structure from the aural embodiment of the text. From here they will co-create short format sound/movement compositions to be further developed and animated through improvisation. In the context of several consecutive days, participants will then employ a variety of movement-sound-writing improvisational scores to develop their own texts from which to create collaborative and/or solo sound/movement compositions.
Emotionally Integrated Voice – group classes and Workshops
Accessing one’s voice is foundational to an empowered physical practice. My approach is centred around the connection of BODY, BREATH AND VOICE as a basis for connecting physicality to sound, providing participants with an experiential learning of resonance, time, attuning, sounding and listening. Rooted in the Emotionally Integrated Voice pedagogy developed by master teacher and vocal artist, Fides Krucker, the basics of sounding are introduced: relationship to breath, texture, pitch, shaping sound, and intention. These are explored through physical/vocal activities and games; through improvisational play; and through song. Depending on the length of the workshop or class series, participants develop both an experiential and technical understanding of the functional anatomy of the throat, mouth, face and torso as it relates to making sounds healthfully. They discover new ways to be in breath and emotion so that their anatomical architecture for sound will follow and support without overwork and undue stress.
Body-centred tools and practices that are inherent in the EIV pedagogy include methods from Roy Hart and Laban movement/vocal qualities, and work supported by the piano, including song as an exploration of the interconnected nature of emotion, pitch, and meaning/story. Other methods that I draw on include Ruth Zaporah’s Action Theater (particularly for its integration of breath, voice, movement and improvised text/narrative) as well as OSF and its use of physical qualities, textures, energies and images as a basis for sounding.