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All You Can Do is Breathe and Hope

An overview of the workshop given by Maia Nowack and Mercedes Balarezo as part of Pedappraoch, based on our thesis works.

Text: Maia Nowack and Mercedes Balarezo

We would like to share a brief overview of the workshop we presented via Zoom video meeting as part of Pedapproach: “All You Can Do is Breathe and Hope”, which shares the title of the work we created together with students at Ammattiopisto Live this past winter. Each of our theses has stemmed from different relations to that artistic-pedagogical process. In this workshop, we focused on building up to one of the scores from the performance we created, adapted to be done virtually and in your own space. We wanted to share this score here, as well as some of our thoughts. We hope that this score is something others could adapt and try if they are interested.

Our interests lie around the topics of affirming diverse ways of being in dance pedagogy, deconstructing expectations around presence in performing arts spaces, and the poetics and politics of voice moving as a limb. In our work together we dive into the realms of attention, inner/outer, leadingfollowing, sonomovements and the voice as a limb 

Our guidelines for the workshop (as a virtual interaction): 

Participants can leave or take breaks whenever they need, we will take a longer break in the middle. We will mute everyone except for us when the exploration starts so there isn’t sound confusion or issues. Participants can choose to have cameras on or off. Participants can private chat us at any time with questions, needs, etc. We encourage participants to follow their impulses or interests if they emerge, there is no ”right” way to follow the prompts.

First exploration–warming up, building up some basis for the score:

We started with exploring ways of paying attention to the breath internally, then guiding more directed breath and sounding exercises, which gradually expand this breath and vibration to outside of yourself, playing around with how you are paying attention/ on what you are focusing, and how you are relating to yourself and the environment, still including breathing/sounding as part of that.

The score:

1. Cover yourself with a blanket and find a hiding spot. Participants are encouraged  to somehow remain ”hidden” for the duration of the score, whatever that can mean to them.

2. In that spot, start to explore quiet sounds and related movements  that come, for yourself.

3. Still in that spot, the sounds/voice limb starts to project further (to objects, air, sending messages/communicating–still quietly), and is still connected to movement.

4. Start to move around (still somehow ’hiding’), keeping this projection or communication with the sounding, finding different hiding spots in the space, trying out different ways of relating to objects and the space. Play with how you perceive the objects or areas in the space (as in, are they friendly, are they unknown, or they intimidating, how do you feel about them, how do you think they feel about you? How do you sense them?). Play with how you move and sound, what are your vocabularies that you use?

5. Have conversations with objects and/or textures in the space. Let the sounding-movement respond to them. What do they communicate to you?

6. To end: find a place where you want to come out of hiding. Take a moment of stillness and observing and slowly remove the blanket, letting yourself be with the space and the space be with you. Bring your attention and then yourself back over the screen.

Questions for further thought or discussion:

What did the inclusion of the voice bring to your movement?

By this experience that you just had how would you describe your relationship with your voice?

What types of presence or attention felt most comfortable or uncomfortable, familiar or unfamiliar, as you were exploring?

Did you notice or can you now notice any expectations or ‘shoulds’ you had around how you should be in the exploration? How did this context affect that?

A reflection afterwards:

How do I pay attention to the things that I notice? I’m trying to listen to voices that are muted and I must trust that something is happening in the other side of the screen. Is not easy what we are asking them to do. Unexpected situation and requests. The expectation of what is supposed to be a “movement” workshop are always there. I this good enough? Is this interesting enough? I pay attention to what I notice and I thank Maia. Because it was  through her questions in this whole process that I have started to pay more attention to what I notice. 

What is there then, after the uncomfortable moment of being asked to use your voice in a not usual manner? How does we cross the threshold? Do we need to? Do we want to? Do you want to play this game? Play is sometimes described as an activity that has no purpose. I love to play and this is a game. A serious game, so serious that I’m writing a thesis about it, but it doesn’t stop being a game. We need to play even in the hardest moments, that reminds me to the movie “La vita è bella”. No, this is not the War world II and we are not Roberto Benigni. But we still need the hope, the imagination and the community to go on. 

In the other hand is the loneliness of my sounding limb making what me notice that there is actually no one around? The same body is the sender and the receiver of the message in this communication. But, wait! Can you sound for your objects? Can one texture whisper  to another texture what does it feel to be a carpet? Could we challenge the communicational purpose of the voice and play with it differently? The voice and movement can produce endless relations within ourselves, the near, the far, the inner, the outer, the carpet, the blanket, the screen. 

I am seated here and see only the screen with small squares with names. The connection became real when we see each other and respond to each other, or when after the score we came back in front of the screen with a messy hair and red faces. I could tell that something have happened. When I asked about their relationship with their own voice I noticed that the facial expression changed for some of them. The sight went inside. I am assuming that they are going back and tracking this relationship through the exploration they just had. Definitely is not about answering the question, but holding the question for a while is what matters to me.


Pedapproach on teatteri- ja tanssinopettajan maisteriopiskelijoiden 4.-8.5. järjestämä seminaari, joka kokoaa opiskelijoiden ajattelua ja opinnoissa tutkittuja taiteellis-pedagogisia kysymyksiä ja aiheita. Tutustu seminaariin ja sen teemoihin opiskelijoiden päivittämässä blogissa.

Pedapproach is a seminar organised by theatre and dance pedagogy students in 4-8 May that gathers the artistic-pedagogical questions and topics that students have explored during their studies. Learn more about the seminar in the students’ blog. Updates are in Finnish or English.

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