For the first week of our Summer Dance Intensive Wagner Moreira and Helena Fernandino lead an intensive called C.O.R.E. (Creating Opportunities for Research and Exploration).
Wagner Moreira was born in Brazil and has been living in Germany since 2003. As a teacher, freelance performer and choreographer, he has worked in various theatres, universities and international projects. In 2011, he was awarded a scholarship for the “International Choreographers Residency” at American Dance Festival at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina-USA. In 2012 he received the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) award in professional choreography for his outstanding social and intercultural commitment. In 2012 he received a Master of Arts in Choreography. For the last six years, Wagner has extended his C.O.R.E project to several mixed-able-bodied projects in Europe.
Helena Fernandino holds a masters degree in cognitive linguistics. She started her dance training in her home country of Brazil and continued her education in Belo Horizonte and throughout Europe, including Germany, Belgium and Austria. She has been based in Germany since 2003 working as a dancer, teacher and choreographer. As a dancer and choreographer her work includes video dance, site-specific performance and interventions in public spaces. In 2013 she was awarded the graduate scholarship from the State of Saxony for the Artistic Masterclass at Palucca University for Dance Dresden, researching the interface between dance and cognitive linguistics, with a focus on contemporary dance for children and adolescents. In 2014 she began her training as a Somatic Movement Educator – Body Mind Centering – © BMC.
Our dancers worked all week and performed in a working demonstration at the end of the intensive. We sat down with Wagner and Helena to hear about the work they do with our students, and their philosophies in teaching and creating.
What is something that has surprised you about working with the students, thus far?
WAGNER: It’s always a surprise when we start to work with new people. I ask myself, how do you approach the people and how do they react. I was surprised how fast the students took the corrections, put them into the work, and made visible that they understood what we asked of them. From the first to second day as they were working and we were worried if we were guiding them in a clear way. Wondering how we can make them understand how to make connections between things we tell them and things they’ve learned before. I realized that I was so busy thinking about how I could do my job better, they had already figured out how to connect the technique and composition. I hadn’t realized that they got it and understood it from the beginning on. They are also really good at expressing themselves through words and not just through bodies. They can talk about how the process is for them and give clear feedback. They are so young and they are so smart. We always think maybe because they are so young they are not very far in their artistic level, but I’m surprised that’s not true. These are surprises that make me alive.
HELENA: Yes and no. At the beginning no because I’m trying to come in without expectations. Just being open to meeting people and seeing what they are. But I’m surprised every day how they are developing. From the first day to today, they are really developing everyday. This has really surprised me in a very positive way.
In what ways do you hope to challenge the students?
WAGNER: To challenge them not to be themselves. We are working with the phrase “Sorry, I’m not myself today”. I’m not a fixed point. We work with shaking the body to shake out stereotypes that we put on ourselves and others put on us. We try to discover another character, or mask, or quality or maybe another person. To challenge yourself to find another way of being, to turn crazy, and see how your emotions can go to your head and make you lose control. To lose control is important for the artist. One week is a short time, for everyone to trust each other in order to be able to lost control. The important thing is what comes after that moment of lost control. We are carrying the students into that position, but we have to be careful because we are leaving them in a week and we can’t support them when we go. The challenge is to lose the control and to figure out after that how to get the control back. Then they can figure out how to be themselves. Sometimes we get lost in having to know who or what we are, but I can learn the opposite, how to not be myself. I give my body I give my soul and my blood for the art, but I know that I am not myself. I’m stepping out of control and understanding a consciousness about who I am. We challenge them to train and then to forget the training. The technique is just one tool to express something. How to lose it is the challenge. Eventually to do just what you want, and take out dance.
HELENA: We work with them on the theme “Sorry, I’m not myself today”. The idea is to be something or someone that’s not what they are used to being and t0 do what they are not used to doing. The aim is to discover what else they can be and what else they can do. What they are not today might be part of them next week, and then they can start the process again to search for new things and to see what they can do differently or in another way.
In your work you call yourselves multidisciplinary artists in that you are producers, dancers, choreographers, etc. How does your work show them that they can take on all those kinds of roles?
HELENA: I think they’re getting it, maybe not everything, for example producing, but I think yes because we are working in body work through exploration, improvisation, technique, and giving them space to create. Some things are impulses from us in the creation, but also to create their own things, and we are coaching them also. I think they learn many kinds of possibilities to work they are not getting it not because we are telling them but because they are experiencing it.
Do you always co-teach classes or workshops? How do you feel this benefits the learning or teaching?
HELENA: Sometimes together but also separately. This week one of us will teach in the morning and the other in the afternoon, but we don’t talk about what each of us will do before class. We are doing our own thing with the students, we know the teaching is connected, maybe because we have the same focus with the students, what I’m doing and what he is doing are connected. As we go we start to exchange with each other a little and talk about the specific direction we want to take in the course. We are for sure exchanging the whole time. Playing is when we have an aim and go towards that, but we are exchanging the whole time what we can offer them so that the work becomes whole. So that they can integrate each part of the day they can integrate all the work we both are doing with them for themselves and the for the final presentation.
WAGNER: I was afraid with my language and how to approach them. They deal with family teaching really well. We have our child in the studio and the students are just ready to work and they down’t mind. This process of being mobile, I was surprised that they just accepted that. We are here to work and we have to do our job even though we have a family with us.
In this system you’ve created called C.O.R.E. is there a focal point or specific aspect you hope the students will take away with them?
HELENA: Awareness of themselves as movers, as bodies in movement, and also as creators. In the end also as a personality. We are trying to give them inputs that can give them more awareness in how they are moving and what they are thinking and what they are creating.
WAGNER: The main focus in our own approach, allows us to make a safe space for us to share with ourselves and with other people. How do I create a relationship between myself and the space? We want to create a safe space for the artist to do what they need or what they want, with no dependance on other people to provide something. The artist has to figure out “how can I create space for myself?”The main focus is to make it easy going not to be stressed and move away from any dependence on institutions. Institutions are important for us but we start to build an institution between the people who work together. Something that doesn’t rely on the building or space or the funds or aesthetics or other structures, but an institution in a new open way.
We use the title C.O.R.E (Creating Opportunities for Research and Exploration) because we as people need labels to describe and organize, but sometimes labels put you in a limited space. That’s why the name is so open. Actually every independent artist is doing this as well. If I have to speak about what I do, I have to organize it in a way, to understand it, so it’s important for us to have a structure. Maybe if you have an artist with no structure the chaos can be nice, but maybe without a structure you can’t go so far.
What is your favorite thing about working and living at the villa?
HELENA: The immersion in the community. We have this time and physical place to do the work, and the students have also this place and this time to go deep into what they’re doing. For me that’s the most positive and beautiful thing. There is a whole exchange that is occurring here between artists and art makers.
WAGNER: This feeling of community. We are all living and staying here. We can have a feeling of community in so little time because it’s happening when are sleeping in the same building and eating together in the mensa and working together all day. During yesterday’s presentation/discussion I really felt this exchange. At breakfast the morning after this presentation the students from other workshops were more connected with us, and it was nice to combine the dancers and the theatre students. It was another way to connect in this community.