Programme & action: ERASMUS+: Youth, Key Action 1: Youth Exchangee
Dates: 9—15 August 2021
Venue: Nigrán, Spain
Participating countries: Spain, Czech Republic, Italy
Hosting organisation: Asociación de Danza de Gondomar
Czech team: Vít Votroubek (GL), Martina Kotorová, Tereza Hanajová, Veronika Adamová, Kristýna Liptáková, Eva Gáliková, Anna Rokosová
Hola, ¿que tal? ¡Estoy maravilloso hoy! That is the saying that describes this marvelous project. Even though it was only five days, the project left a really strong mark in our memories. Yes, Galicia is a region ideal for this project, it combines the essence of the cold North influenced by the Atlantic ocean with a typical mild climate, but with a great cultural tradition. It is the same as a dance of cold waves in contact with the warm rocks of the coast. In the same way, we danced through these days like waves of the sea with all our own capacities.
We have focused on contact improvisation, dance and specific movements techniques that can help us to understand and overcome differences and raise inclusion among people. When we dance, it doesn’t matter where we come from or what our education is. When we dance, we can communicate even if we do not speak a common language. As in music or fine arts, looking for a common artistic language is a great added value – that was also one of the main goals of this project.
After arriving in Nigrán, a small town on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean near the city of Vigo, we stayed at the hostel called La Casa Colorida. We got to know each other among all participants and also inside the Czech group. Someone went directly to the beach nearby. We spent our free time on the seaside during the whole project. After all, the postponement of the date from March to August due to the epidemiological situation also brought some benefits.
Lying down on the hot sand or jumping to cool water was great, especially after an intensive all-day program full of movement and dancing. We were surprised by how intense dance sessions were, especially from the first day. Thanks to the guidance of several trainers, we tried out many activities and techniques of contact improvisation. We worked with our balance, we learned to move in space and work with others, and created elemental mini performances in groups. Some days our group was joined by local dancers.
Each trainer had his own style, for example, one teacher originally from Cuba focused a lot on working with the center of gravity and making maximum use of body weight in a smart way. Even though the exercise seemed quite physically demanding, after a few lessons our bodies got to use it. How less to use the power of the hands and more to distribute the weight of the body – that is the recipe. Another coach focused more on aspects of yoga and overall mental state. Every teacher has a different method, and that’s great on these projects of non formal education, this scale of diversity. Even understanding the methodology of teaching style can bring us a lot. For example, the last teacher was determined by the experience of a long stay in Germany mixed with the Spanish style. His exercises gave us a lot thanks to the fact that we were able to try totally different movement styles. I remember his phrase: Dance in the style that you really want! I saw this as an important point, leading to authentic artistic expression of ourselves.
The division into beginners and advanced users was not too important during our sessions. Of course, one could adapt the difficulty of the activities to another’s own condition, courage and amount of close contact with others he wanted at that moment. We also addressed the topic of setting boundaries, consent and mutual respect during short conversations.
The issue of the consent we have often touched in practice during the activities. Being able to confidently express where my boundaries are, but also what my wishes are, is often quite difficult in society nowadays. Above all, the formal education system does not focus on these competencies. Many people do not know what consent means and how to work with it. In real life, this creates many misunderstandings. We can imagine this project as a laboratory, as a tryout, where it is possible to try these situations informally and thanks to that to improve these soft skills in real life. Learning through mistakes also plays a role here.
In addition to dancing and physical activities, another step out of the comfort zone was a visit to the local naturist beach. Understanding the nature and authenticity of the human body is another dimension leading to the concept of balance and equality in society. Especially in the complexity of points of view on human beings and its artistic embodiment. After all, these all mentioned, is the base which was drawn in the dance itself, there is no bad movement in contact improvisation, it is just a different way of expression, but this is the diversity that brings important nuances to artistic expression.
After these five intense days, we had to say goodbye. The local art group prepared for us a theatrical performance on the topic of the caregivers during the pandemy. This topic was perfectly suited to the end of these days, just to see how art is important for human beings, and how many of us have forgotten what authentic expression actually means. We have forgotten what our authenticity and our inner spirit are! Fortunately, I will never forget it, thanks to this project as this saying is mentioning: ¿Dónde está tu espíritu? ¡Espero que nunca lo olvides!