This past Spring Sabine Fichter completed her first semester as head of the dance program at the Accademia dell’Arte. It was a wonderful semester filled with outstanding work by a group of exceptional young student dancers.
We had a chance to ask Sabine about her background, her first semester at the Accademia, and about her upcoming tour in the US this fall. We though what better way for you to get to know her and to gain a deeper understanding of the dance experience at the Accademia, than to hear about it all directly from the Director of the program herself?
Because there was so much great detail in Sabine’s answers we’ve broken our interview into 3 parts. We begin with Sabine’s background and experience in the dance world:
Tell us about your background as both a dancer and a dance educator.
I knew that I wanted to become a dancer when I took my first ballet class at the age of seven. As a teenager my focus shifted from classical dance to Modern Dance, improvisation and choreography. Initially I studied dance in a school for Dance and Drama in Düsseldorf, Germany, where I was introduced to different post-modern techniques, i.e. contact improvisation and release technique, but also more traditional Modern Dance techniques like Graham, Cunningham and Limon.
After that I went on to study at the University of Arnhem (Netherlands). At that time, in the mid eighties the dance programs in Holland were well-known for their innovative approaches, so, for example somatic practices such as Feldenkrais or Alexander technique were integrated in the dance technique classes and Contact Improvisation was very popular.
After I had finished my studies I started to work with different dance companies in Germany, such as “Neuer Tanz”, “Frey Faust Company”, “Telos Dance Company”, “ExisTanz”. My main interest has always been the combination of dance and theatre, like the German Tanztheater, a genre invented by the wonderful and unforgettable Pina Bausch. I have also done choreographic collaborations, i.e. with dancers from the Tanztheater Bremen and dancers from the Semper Opera Dresden.
I started to teach quite early and have always done it parallel to my work as a dancer. I have taught all age levels, children from the age of 3, teenagers, adults – lay dancers, as well as
professionals. My experience includes the work with handicapped people. For two years I have worked in a school that integrated deaf students in the dance classes and dance projects.
Can you tell us about your experience with Laban Movement Analysis and why you feel it’s an important part of dance training?
I was introduced to Laban/ Bartenieff Studies and Laban Movement Analysis in 1995 in a workshop that I took in Berlin with Petra Kugel, who is a former student of Mary Wigman, a Laban specialist and a dance therapist. I was immediately very fascinated by the Laban work because I felt that Rudolf Laban had something essential to say about movement and I got very interested in his theories. I decided to do the professional Laban training at LIMS (Laban-Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies) to become a so called Certified Movement Analyst. LIMS is based in NYC but offers Laban-Bartenieff trainings in Europe. I did my training in Berlin and was certified in 1997.
The Laban-Bartenieff training changed and influenced my dancing and my thinking about movement so much that I decided to further deepen my knowledge. So I went back to University and did an MA in Laban Movement Analysis and Somatic Studies at the University of Surrey, UK, from which I graduated in 2004.
Since that time I have been teaching LMA and Bartenieff classes all over Europe at the University level in different programs and I am also working for LIMS now as a teacher in their European CMA program which takes place in Belgium.
For the past 14 years I have also been working as a somatic practitioner/movement therapist with anorexic girls in a hospital in Dresden. I am teaching Laban’s work to dancers, actors, dance teachers, choreographers and dance movement therapists and I believe it is of huge value for everybody who has a movement/dance profession.
Laban’s theories are profound and crucial for dancers in order to gain a deeper understanding of movement in general and dance in particular. LMA enables students to describe and analyze their own work or the dance work of others, to reflect and to structure it. It provides useful tools for creating movement and has for example influenced the work of great Contemporary choreographers like William Forsythe.
Continue reading about Sabine and the dance program at the Accademia in part 2 of our interview.