by Monel Chang, Executive Intern
Extraordinary dancer, choreographer, and teacher Catherine Lessard, of Montreal, Quebec, visited Earthdance in March to teach a workshop called "Engaged Body Free Body," wherein the students learned and practiced somatic techniques related to Body-Mind Centering, Release Techniques, and improvisation. We enacted reptile-like developmental movement, practiced moving a ball of energy through the flow of our bodies, examined specific bone structures and improvised duets from our tactile experiences. It was an incredible workshop. At the end, I interviewed Catherine about her motives, inspirations and her relationship to Earthdance.
Monel: Thank you for coming to teach! I am wondering if you can share your workshop in one or two sentences.
Catherine: So engaged body free body is basically a method. It is pretty precise. The method is to explore and liberate different parts of the body as tools for improvisation and bringing it back into the whole as we dance or solo into contact or collective. It’s an anatomical method based in anatomy exploration.
Monel: How did you decide to choose this particular formula or method for the workshop?
Catherine: It came to me through time—through my own training and awakening to what makes me more present or articulate, or…yes, as I move. Also it’s something that grew into me and also it comes from what I received from my mentors—I mean I pick up a lot in what they gave me. And it’s been…I taught this workshop a few times, sometimes in French sometimes in English—and it’s been evolving also as I teach it and adapting—sometimes I just have a weekend, sometimes I have a whole week. It’s adapting as well.
Monel: Where do you see it adapting towards?
Catherine: Well, there’re some things I will spend a lot of time on in a certain context and in another context like the walking for example, the walking exercise—in another context for different reasons, I will just touch [on] it, but not a lot. But I think in general the basic idea is the same, it remains the same—it’s to explore the anatomy and bring it into that thinking, dancing, liberated body.
Monel: And the walking exercise, you mean walking slower?
Catherine: Walking slowly, or fast, or, I mean observing. Observing the walk, as you walk. And maybe change the speed so you can observe even more—simple things that we can do with anything else. And the walking—change the speed, observe, learn. The body is the teacher. And the official teacher is the channel or help.
Monel: How did you decide to teach it at Earthdance? Or why did you choose Earthdance?
Catherine: For this workshop, especially, I felt like Earthdance was the right place for it because the mandate of Earthdance is not only of Contact Improv. And this workshop touches [on] how you are in the space, how you feel yourself in the space, how you move yourself in the space, whether you’re in contact or not, and you know, so it feels like the mandate of Earthdance is broad, is open, is breathing…so it was…it felt right to ask Earthdance for this. And because there is a beautiful community of people that might be interested in this workshop. Earthdance can reach out to many people—thousands of people.
Monel: Thank you.
The audio file for the interview can be heard here.