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Mapping the Self – for dancers and movement artists

  • Fridays 10-12pm
  • September 26st – October 30th
  • 119 8th St. (between 2nd and 3rd avenues) Gowanus, Brooklyn
  • $150 – includes one private lesson
  • Drop-in classes are available

(Class size is limited, please reserve your spot in advance)

Call Cori Olinghouse at (917) 208-2373 or e-mail corihouse@gmail.com

Mapping the Self is intended for experienced dancers and movement artists looking to create depth within their solo practices.  Designed as a laboratory, this six-week series introduces tools from the Alexander Technique and Improvisational forms that inspire embodiment, creativity, and self-sufficiency.  This approach synthesizes technical and creative practices in a vital feedback loop, where learning is deepened through creative application and creative articulation deepened through technique. Influenced by Olinghouse’s 20 year investigation of the Alexander Technique, along with Laban Movement Analysis, Emergent Improvisation, Bartenieff Fundamentals, BMC and research from her own creative practice, she will lead participants through a shape-shifting terrain, offering multiple points of entry into one’s own embodied practices.   

Cori Olinghouse has enjoyed teaching this class to the Trisha Brown Dance Company, The Yard, Ohio State University, among other institutions.

For more information, please visit:  

Yoga Study Group, a monthly platform for emerging Yoga teachers and trainees

led by Alexander Technique practitioner, Cori Olinghouse

  • Inaugural session: September 28, 11:30am
  • Location: 119 8th Street (between 2nd and 3rd avenues) in Gowanus, Brooklyn
  • Fee: $40 per session
  • Group is limited to five
  • RSVP to corihouse@gmail.com

Join this inaugural Yoga Study Group, held monthly in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The intention of this platform is to provide an intimate community forum for emerging Yoga teachers and trainees to develop, experiment and field-test various teaching methodologies. Facilitated by Alexander Technique practitioner and movement artist, Cori Olinghouse, principles from the Alexander Technique will be applied to specific postures, along with creative teaching strategies that will be shared and examined.

“My work with Cori is an investment in my body and I see her guidance as critical, invaluable, and integral to living in a way that inextricably unites creativity and health.” Brighid Greene, Dancer and administrator 

In July, I had the pleasure of working with students from the Trisha Brown Dance Company Summer Intensive, during a new workshop “Mapping Complexity.”  The purpose of this workshop has been to understand each student’s interests and connections to the work of Trisha Brown as a premise for exploring their own creativity.  Much of what we explored has been my own interpretation of Brown’s work – not meant to be a direct representation.  My interest has been to give tools and strategies that are inspired by aspects of Brown’s work as a way for students to learn more about themselves and their own creative interests.  With students I brought in specific source material – visual, written, and videotapes of performances.  I assisted them in identifying specific elements and patterns in Brown’s body of work – including the use of line, space, weight, and rhythm.  I then guided students through a creative process to see how they could connect themselves to these elements in their own bodies and from their own unique histories. Over the week, students began developing their own dances and improvisational scores.  We used an improvisational practice of drawing and writing throughout to document, map, and play with our discoveries.

Brown’s work has been incredible to observe.  There are multiple ways in which she maps the complexity of her own practice.  Using drawing and writing in a variety of ways – at times as documentation, as a kind of schema or mapping, as journaling, and last but not least as artwork in and of itself, I witness the composing ideas of Brown’s work unfold through these varied material processes.

Here are some of the ideas we explored:

Day 1:  mapping space (within their own bodies and within the environment)

Mapping the body as a territory in relation to gravity.

We then looked at understanding their own affinities for how they embody space in a simple walk.  What spatial planes do they organize around – is there a tendency or preference?  Horizontal, vertical, sagittal?

Then we played with Laban ideas to understand the 26 kinespheric directions in space.  This Laban cube is no different from Brown’s Locus cube, though Brown inserts a 27th point at a center point in the cube.

We looked at the pathways in space to understand how each student maps space:

  • Near, mid or far reach
  • Center or periphery
  • Sequential, successive, or simultaneous

From here we created our own movement improvisations bringing awareness to the ways each person maps his/her space.

Day two:  mapping weight (accessing the ability to layer and shift body qualities and states)

Imagining the body as a sac of fluid, we moved from the fluid systems of the body as a way to explore weight and textural shifts in movement.

  • synovial (loose, rubbery, free-flowing, relaxed) – of the skeletal system, produced in the synovial membranes of the joints
  • lymph (exact articulation, specificity, clarity, directness) – fluid of the lymph system, deals with defense and survival
  • arterial (expanding high energy, heartbeat, pulse) —  flow of blood away from the heart
  • venal (swinging and rebound, cyclic) – flow of blood back towards the heart
  • intercellular (sensual and flowing) – surrounds the cells of the body, foundation of vitality and flow of power through the organs and muscles
  • cerebrospinal (moving from center) – fluid of the nervous system, travels within brain and to the spinal column
  • cellular (approaching stillness)  — the fluid within the cells

Day three:  mapping rhythm – motor

Warm-up – working with grounding and “up from the ground” – bounce/spring to later play into how they are organizing rhythm in their bodies…

I taught Kai Kleinbard’s Emergent Rhythm Form – looking at complex polyrhythm in the body…

We looked at the following cycle in improvisational structuring, beginning with:

  • Uncovering interests
  • Gathering information
  • Tracking pattern
  • Development of forms – selection process
  • Emergent structuring

We also played with principles from Trisha Brown’s seminal “Water Motor” as a key embodiment of complexity.

Day 4 & 5:  Student projects

The last two days, I worked with students as they built their own projects.  Each person was able to land on a very specific set of interests.  I was moved to see each student, with their own neuronal mapping, understanding how to track and map the complexity of their own behavior.  Then, in taking this into creative practice, they were able to use this information, now observable on the conscious plane, to direct and focus their own explorations.

- Cori Olinghouse

I recently returned from Paris, France after leading a week long Technique and Repertory workshop at Centre National de le Danse for the Trisha Brown Dance Company.  Over the course of the week, I led students through a creative practice that has emerged as a result of my research as Archive Creative Director of TBDC since 2009, my teaching as an Alexander Technique Teacher and collaboration with partner, Kai Kleinbard as part of our Body Literate Initiative.

During the workshop, I was not attempting to represent Trisha Brown’s work directly – but to use principles from the work as a point of entry to have a conversation with the students at CND.  My primary focus was to assist students in cultivating their own interests in relationship to Brown’s vast body of work, as a resource for exciting creative strategies involved in learning and creating.

Over five days, we charted the following three structuring impulses that have emerged over the course of Brown’s work.  Based on my own observations, I have broken these three categories into:  mapping, motor, and unconscious movement.

Here are some highlights from the workshop:

Day 1:  Eco-poise & Expansion

We explored Alexander Technique fundamentals as a way to connect to the stability of the body through the periphery.  We found that “core” can be created by moving all 6 limbs (head, tail, arms, and legs) distally away from the center.

Connecting this expansion in the body to Brown’s score for “Locus” – we played further with center/periphery as a way to map movement.

Locus is organized around 27 points located on an imaginary cube of space slightly larger than the standing figure in a stride position.”  – Trisha Brown

Day 2:  Breathing through lines

Principles to work on:

  • Proper tension, Poise, Balance, Opposition, Ease
  • “rooting” – “oppositional forces” (to offer support)
  • Sensing line – invisible support structure/related to gravity – to hook into and organize around
  • Finding relationship – connection – support

Learning phrase material from Brown’s 1983, Set and Reset 

Mapping:  Drawing practice of the Set and Reset phrase – what is it’s energy, pathway, movement quality, rhythm, etc?  What is it’s weight?  Momentum?  Direction?

In looking at all the line drawings, each in their own complexity, it was incredible to observe unifying elements amongst the 25 drawings.  These composing elements of Set and Reset were reflected in each the line drawings, such as:

  • rt angles
  • transitions from smooth to sharp and direct
  • pendulum
  • cause and effect
  • direction

Drawing with the body, we each created our own room writing improvisations, inspired by Brown’s 1966, “Inside”.

Score for Brown’s Inside:

To make…Inside, I stood facing a wall in my studio at a distance of about twelve feet and beginning at the extreme left, I read the wall as a score while moving across the room to the far right.  Any question that arose about the speed, shape, duration or quality of a move was determined by the visual information on the wall.  An odd distribution of actions and gestures emanated from the architectural collection of alcove, door, peeling paint and pipes.  After finishing the first wall, I repositioned myself in the same way for the second wall and repeated the procedure, (then) for the third and fourth.  Therefore, in performance, I moved along the edge of the room, facing out, on the kneecaps of the audience, who were placed in a rectangular seating formation duplicating the interior of my studio.  I was marking the edge of the space, leaving the center of the room empty, the movement concretely specific to me, abstract to the audience.  And I looked at them.  I added the problem of looking at the audience, not “with meaning,” but with eyes open and seeing.  (Trisha Brown from Dance and Art in Dialogue)

Day 3:  Weight

Principles to work on:           

  • Alexander Technique inspired partner graphics – exploring the weight of the body
  • Sensing weight – actively broadcasting weight in the space
  • Pouring weight into the ground to cast body freely into space
  • Weight grounding an image – giving it reality/substance
  • Weight – connected to flow – flow of weight

Warm-up improvisation:

Learned material from Brown’s 1979, Glacial Decoy: exploring it’s textural, qualitative and rhythmic shifts.

Line-up – ensemble improvisation (simple to complex) with 5 rules from Set and Reset:

  • visibility/invisibility
  • act on instinct
  • play the edge
  • Keep it simple
  • lining up

Day 4:  MOTOR- rhythm and pulse as a motor

Warm-up – working with grounding and bounce – finding a way to lever against the ground and use it for rhythmic play.  This kind of spring and impetus from the ground is a “motor” for movement.

Warm-up improvisation “Emergent rhythm form” (created by Kai Kleinbard)

  • Moving from simple to complex – tracking polyrhythm in the body
  • Playing groove of the music with the body
  • Feeling the rhythm of a drop (downbeat) – and the resultant weight and bounce in the body

Creative practice:  What is your own motor?  (begin gathering images, thoughts, drawings about this)

Explored the idea of “motor” Trisha Brown’s Water Motor, 1978

“Motor” is a very important strategy in Brown’s work – capturing a dynamic, textural, polyrhythmic play that moves through her architectured sense of space.  Often generated as a play of “cause and effect” mechanics, this motor is a thread that can be tracked through all of her choreographies.

Day 5:  Unconscious movement (“There is no graph – I used imagery.”  – Trisha Brown)

Authentic movement in partners – Observations / writing

Read score from Trisha Brown’s 1966 Homemade

Play with memory, imagery, and personal narrative

Principles to work on:

  • active listening
  • acting on instinct
  • playing the memories that arise unconsciously
  • play of rhythm and timing

Ensemble improvisation using the character breakdown from For M.G:  The Movie:

  •             Marathoner
  •             Everyman
  •             Voyeur
  •             Bad girl

Over the course of the week, I found that this creative embodiment of the work lends itself very beautifully to learning material or to entering a creative practice.  I was able to witness the possibility for students to compose their own dancing.  For me, what makes Brown’s work alive is this moment-to-moment ability to compose the rhythm, space, and sense of mechanics animated in the body.  Attending to this kind of active listening asks the dancers to work as improvisers, attending multi-dimensionally to all the layers of information they are experiencing.

Thank you to everyone who joined me at CND!  It was such a pleasure to learn, research, and explore this material together.  I hope for more soon!

-Cori Olinghouse

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Trisha Brown Residency at the Eugene Lang College

Winter-Spring 2012

“Can you make a single, uninterrupted line drawing of Trisha Brown’s Set and Reset phrase?” 

This past semester, I worked in collaboration with TBDC Choreographic Assistant and former dancer Carolyn Lucas, former TBDC dancer Laurel Tentindo, and students from the Eugene Lang College in a Trisha Brown Residency at the Eugene Lang College.

 

Our process was to conjure some of Brown’s impulses and strategies from over the years as a resource for the students to develop their own creative practices. We asked students to notate their creative process by keeping visual notebooks. In playing with multiple ways of mapping and reflecting upon the material learned in class, students were able to bridge their own understandings of some of the living ideas in Brown’s choreography.

 

Brown’s practice of drawing, notating, sketching, and writing have always been present in the development of her ideas and imagination of her mind in movement. In place of codifying a dance technique, Brown has employed drawing as a visual mapping of her own idiosyncratic sense of movement. In using a visual seeing rather than a set physical technique, Trisha creates visual scores that allow the original impulses of the movement to remain alive and dynamic.

 

Here are some of the student drawings and notations from this past semester.   

 

I will be teaching this process this July as part of the Trisha Brown Summer Intensive.  Please visit this link for further information!

 

Photo by Stefanie Li

- Cori Olinghouse 

On April 22, 2012 I led an Alexander Technique workshop for Cadence Dubus, owner of Brooklyn Strength in Brooklyn Heights to work with her Pilates and Personal Training instructors.

We looked at ways of complimenting the Pilates idea of “CORE” with a directional, non-muscular approach.  Rather than engaging the muscles of the abdomen directly, we looked to find directional support through the limbs.  We experimented with moving all 6 limbs (head, tail, arms, and legs) distally away from the center to find a eco-poise and expansion throughout the body.  This support was generated from the periphery as a new way to enliven the core.

Taking this efficient and easeful approach into their teaching, we looked at ways of putting hands on clients during hamstring stretches, Pilates mat and table work.   Cadence’s movement practitioners found a new way to open their own bodies during hands-on thereby giving their partners more effective experiences. We examined how to use the feet, legs, back and head in an oppositional relationship to gravity – decreasing the tendency to compress or collapse into their clients.  This anti-gravity support gave them energy and buoyancy.

Please stay tuned with further hands-on workshops for movement practitioners.  Visit Brooklyn Strength for further information about Pilates, Thai massage, and Personal Training. – Cori Olinghouse

Alexander Technique for new Moms – Introductory post-natal workshop

The Alexander Technique can help address the many changes a mother must make during pregnancy, through childbirth and into caring for her new baby.  It is a practical method for improving ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination.  Through classes you can look forward to an increase in energy, reduced pain and stress, and the overall ability to move more easily and gracefully.  You will learn to adapt to the many changes your body is adjusting to, find more physical support while carrying, lifting, and holding your baby, and create more ease and comfort while nursing.  Handling these new demands with improved ease can allow you to fully enjoy the rewards of parenting with support and relaxation.

Common discomforts

In the early postpartum periods, pregnancy hormones cause your ligaments and other connective tissues to lengthen, which decreases joint stability.  You are also managing a shift in your center of gravity, reducing neuromuscular coordination and balance, leaving you more vulnerable to injury.  As you learn to apply principles from the Alexander Technique, you can enjoy a new sense of support and balance, helping you to:

Benefits:

  • Improve posture and alignment
  • Prevent injury and relieve chronic pain
  • Manage stress more effectively
  • Reduce muscular tension
  • Increase range of motion, breathing capacity and overall energy
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Expand self-awareness
  • Improve and sustain your health

Cori Olinghouse, AmSAT certified Alexander Technique teacher is also available for private lessons in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  Please contact Cori for further information.

To pre-register, RSVP to: 
917.208.2373
corihouse@gmail.com
Fee:  $110 for full 4 week course
Location:  Studio Maya (Prospect Heights)
603 Bergen Street (between Vanderbilt & Carlton)
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Time:  March 3, 10, 17, 24 from 3-4:30pm (Saturdays)
Class is limited to 10 people

This August, as part of the Bessie Schönberg Choreographers’ Residency 2011 at The Yard in Martha’s Vineyard, Kai Kleinbard and I have been invited to create a community project with kids and adults – leading classes that focus our research on creative practices.   We are developing an approach that uses adaptive, self-organizing methods stimulating what it means to learn.  These practices are experiential in nature, utilizing both creative and physical components to integrate self-awareness, creativity and health.

We bring influences from our work as Alexander Technique teachers, study of underground vernacular dance forms, and Emergent Improvisation (developed by Susan Sgorbati), to this creative practice method.  It is our goal to create an open-ended learning process where students learn through creating and create through learning.  This method allows for a feedback loop in which students can build bridges between ideas, implement their own strengths, and harness reflective practices that foster their own self-development.

Our creative practice is an open-ended spiral that moves through these five principles:

  • articulating interests
  • gathering information
  • recognizing patterns that emerge
  • selecting what is useful
  • re-assimilating this information back into an emergent whole
Our adult classes follow this structure: 
Alexander Technique-based warm-ups
Technique utilizing a variety of dance forms 
Improvisational structuring and emergent forms
 
And our kid’s class -
Creative Movement Play with Creatures and Robots

Students will use their imaginations to orient their bodies in time and space, develop rhythm and coordination, and transform into otherworldly creatures.  Freedom of expression and improvisation will be encouraged and further developed through art projects that build costumes, sculptures, and drawings (using recycled materials).  The workshop will culminate in an interactive lecture demonstration as the kids lead the audience through their worlds of transformation.

Stay posted for our next creative movement class – coming Spring 2012!

- Cori Olinghouse

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