user avatarSanne Clifford Eligible Member // Teacher
user avatarRoos van Berkel Eligible Member // Teacher
user avatarAnja Gallagher Eligible Member // Teacher
user avatarCharlotta Ruth Eligible Member // Teacher
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IDOCs » Workshop/lecture description ‘When collaborations match’, 2nd IDOCDE Symposium
Workshop/lecture description ‘When collaborations match’ 2nd IDOCDE Symposium – 03-08-2014 – Sanne Clifford

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Workshop/lecture description ‘When collaborations match’

2nd IDOCDE Symposium – 03-08-2014 – Sanne Clifford

Participants: Jane Castree, Anja Gallagher, Charlotta Ruth, Ina Rager, Roos van Berkel, Engin Golak, Pascale Gille, Nicolas Diguet, Emilie Szikora & Sanne Clifford.

Photography: Martin Streit

Videography: Hui Ye 



The workshop is based on a part of my MA Choreography thesis-research:

A choreographer’s approach to a dancer’s creativity in a collaborative choreographic process (How can a choreographer engage most effectively with dancers and their creativity in a collaborative choreographic process?)

You can read the whole thesis on IDOCDE:


From several theories and findings of this research we looked with this workshop into the choreographer-dancer role and the teacher-dancer role.


Link to the theme ‘Teach me (not)!’

The different roles we have and take in our dance profession

(Who in the room is doing what?)

Within our roles: what type of choreographer, dancer or teacher are you?

Knowing this can give an insight in our way of working, but also being aware of other roles, possibilities, challenges and aims.


Outline of the workshop

We looked at:

-       Different process-types and the collaboration/roles within as choreographers-dancers and teachers-dancers

        (Butterworth, 2009)

-       How we collaborate within choreographic processes and dance classes

        With which focus/way of working, based on the different types of collaboration and how we formulate tasks    

        (do we ask what we need/are looking for?) (Butterworth, 2009 & Lavender, 2009)

-       The ongoing process, different stages within – how to respond to the responds





Explanation Jo Butterworth’s Didactic-Democratic spectrum model

Proposes 5 distinct choreographic processes.








Dancer as






Didactic processes                                                                           Democratic processes


Task: Write down which type(s) you recognize yourself in as a choreographer and dancer (in a creation process) and teacher and dancer (in a class).


We discussed situations and relationships between teacher-dancer:

What kind of class-types are there, what kind of approaches to teach, how much room for interpretation is there in a class or class sequence, can the dancer be creative or not?


Comments of participants about this discussion:







Next step/New input:

How do you translate your concept/opinion/purpose?

Humanistic approach & Artistic approach

(personal development – artistic aims)

What do the students/dancers need?


When in a creative process, when giving tasks:

2 types of tasks:

-       Tasks with limited possibilities/outcomes (closed-ended)

-       Tasks that are open-ended


Ways of working (examples):

-       Practise: students do and teacher waits for questions

-       Collaboration: sharing ideas

-       Mentoring: input from the students, mentor guides



Giving tasks:

When giving a task, do you ask what you need? How do you formulate a task?

Ask yourself: Do you need creative input or movement possibilities/variations?


Larry Lavender describes different types of verbal communication between choreographers and dancers.

-       Prompts: activate dancers’ creativity. I.e.: ‘What if …’, Insertion (adding) or use of Praise. Speaks to the

        ‘inside feel’.

-       Manipulations: Generate movement possibilities/variations without new input from the dancer in a creative

        way. (Example: ‘Try that without arms’)

-       Directives: changes an aspect in the performance of the material, without changing the structure or

        generating new material. (Example: Make that turn sharp). Gives technical and qualitative adjustments to the


-       Reactions: uncensored feeling-based evaluation/feedback. Can be positive (that looks great) or negative

        (‘no, not like that’, or ‘the transition doesn’t work’)

        How to respond to the responds?



Formulating tasks:

Task in the workshop: Work in pairs/small groups. Give each other a task. Try out the task. Discuss afterwards: is it open or closed ended? Does it stimulate creativity? How is the experience of the dancer? What did the ‘task-giver’ gain? We opened the experience into a sharing/group discussion.



Comments of participants about the experience/ideas of the task and discussion:

(please add a comment)

 What resonated most with me, was the experience during an exercice: the realisation that the way I address the task to "my" dancers, the outcome can be either very limited or enormously rich in creativity. And not only that: if the task was asked in an open ended way, everyone involved enjoyed the process to much greater extent than in a closed-ended task. It became very clear to me that this would be the only way I'd like to create work in the future. (9/22 Gallagher).







Ending/Looking back at what we did:

-       What type of collaborator are you? Does this change per situation or role?

-       What do you need, what are you looking for at this moment in your career? What would you like to change in your way of working, to change your habits?

-       What did you gain mostly of this workshop/what would you like to use/try-out?



Food for thought – quotes (by Jonathan Burrows):


Collaboration is about choosing the right people to work with, and then trusting them. You don’t, however, have to agree about everything.


Collaboration is sometimes about finding the right way to disagree.


When you allow yourself to make a discovery, then there’s something for the audience to discover. When you try to agree too much with your collaborators then there’s nothing new to discover, either for you or for the audience.


(p. 58)



Comments (please share your thoughts again):



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Anja Gallagher Eligible Member // Teacher
Thank you for this wonderful synopsis of what we did in your workshop. Especially the diagram of Butterworth's model was very helfpul.
It will certainly change my teaching:)

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Charlotta Ruth Eligible Member // Teacher
I specifically liked to be reminded of the different roles' qualities and to picture which situations that benefit from different strategies. I think this session had a lot of strength in not being judgmental in favoring one or the other (though the teaching / presentation style probably would fall under "pilot" or "facilitator" :-) In the experience of trying giving and receiving a task I specially acknowledged how information and way of teaching also shifted because of number of people. If you facilitate a quite open task to two people it appeared in our try out as if it was more open than if exactly the same task was directed to one person. We discussed together that because between one person giving a task and 2 people receiving there is already an (unspoken) agreement that own interpretation is included, where as one to one there is the illusion of direct transfer or possibly simply more pressure. I thought it was very rewarding to try these short experiments out and discover one self in habitual patterns. Very inspiring to bring into teaching for either becoming the type of teacher one wants to be (or had illusions about being) or for discovering potential in switching to roles that are less spontaneus for one self.

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