Movement class Miri Lee

Miri Lee Workshop, movement research, improvisation/composition 

For professional and experienced dancers and performers who want to enrich their performance skills through the use of movement studies from Korean traditional dance variations and improvisation.

I studied traditional Korean dance in Seoul, Korea, the place of my birth and upbringing. Training in traditional Asian dance structures is a rigorous study that is generally motivated by the desire for external approval. Students often become passive learners who, though excel at following instructions, lack internal awareness and motivation for self-empowerment, direction and/or initiation. In order for traditional Asian dance forms to prevail, it is paramount that certain rules are adhered to by the executer. Despite the deep respect that I have for this cultural preservation, my quest demands that I search for other forms that can provide me with additional creative & artistic autonomy.

In Seoul, 2006 I was introduced to improvisation by way of the Amsterdam based visiting artists Magpie (directed by Katie Duck).

When I initiated media dance theater company called ‘Plastic Zoo’ since 2005. It was during my time with them that I realized how their model of improvisation could potentially provide me with tools and a means of approach & articulation in relation to my desire for technical, artistic and personal growth.

In 2008 I moved to Amsterdam and, through the attendance of workshops, classes, sessions and performances, I continued to study improvisation as a means of performative & compositional practice.

In order to progress I had to exclude the Korean evaluation system which is based and dependent upon how I am viewed or how I view myself externally. This philosophy and system which was not conducive to the progress I now desired, was eliminated. The result was I felt artistically liberated in how I understood the creative process itself and the space in which I placed physical feelings and emotions.

After several years of intensive study and performances in Amsterdam, I began to envisage how I could integrate my traditional Korean dance background with my contemporary experiences. My training encouraged dancers to use a limited evaluation criteria for how I could develop as an artist. However, there were aspects that I wished to retain from my background in my practice as a choreographer, performer and teacher; namely the use of breath as a fundamental aspect to draw consciousness towards the core of the body and the continual interplay of energy in the form of tension and relaxation.

Movement studies (training)

I have developed physical exercises that, through the use of movement patterns and breathing, emphasize the functional aspects of tension, release, dynamic awareness and weight shift. These exercises provide a structure in which a dancer can organize movement qualities, explore their natural energy and emotions and expand upon a range of movement vocabulary that expands their potential for expression.

I then provide technical skills that support the development of articulation of each body part (muscle and bone). This facilitates a structure which enables the dancer to discover dynamic flow related to movement phrasing; whilst simultaneously developing strength, endurance, flexibility and grounding. The aim of these exercises are to enable discerning movement to be swiftly executed in an environment which packed with rhythmic, spacial and dynamic variables.

This training is a dynamic and rhythmic movement work-out. It integrates experiential anatomy, the observations of kinesthetic sensitivity and the coordination of the mind to motion.

There is a complex system and process occurring on the in and outside of the actual state of our own body. These processes are accompanied by mental structures as we reflect upon a possible moment to moment change in the perception of our bodies. This complex activity can either hinder movement or, when placed in a guided situation, create, embody and release it.

Improvisation/choreography (performance)

‘Imprography’ is the title I am currently using to represent my research in choreographic methodology. Through the use of improvisation as a practice, my teaching towards performance places an emphasis on the student’s ability to develop their own means of research. In regards to performance, I wish for the student to explore possibilities from their personal artistic motifs by placing their creative ideas and emotions at the core of their artwork. I wish to encourage the students to develop their own unique style and to gain equal confidence both as as a performer and/or maker. Additionally i want to nurture and strengthen their artistic ideas and evolution.

Through my own experiences in improvisation performance, I have been able to develop a method that supports the performer in how they are able to consider their choices whilst under the pressure of real-time performance. The study inherent in the ‘Imprography’ workshop were born out of the questions I placed in the exercises and executed in improvisation sessions. The material responds to the need to for us to deepen our own movement potential, refine our receptors to the fact that time is passing (coupled with a responsibility of ‘being in time’), awaken our intuitive potential in our physical activity and compound our understanding of movement and/or technique as performers and makers. The exercises eventually evolve toward being actively involved in the context of the moment while maintaining a clarity in our spatial choices. This needs to happen with an efficacy consequent to the actions of any other elements, be it performers, sound, light and public.

I integrate music as an elemental part of my Imprographical investigation. In the workshop I will either use a live musician or play recordings by improvising musicians whom I have worked with. We will develop the act of listening, explore the use of mental and physical direction in how we hear music with our eyes clearly directed by our time, space choices and also investigate the creation of divergent movement qualities by way of our musicality.

As makers in these improvisation session we will study what motivates us to choose movement, stillness, entrance or exit and furthermore, how we can transform our personal role in a performance whilst executing ‘rational’ and clear choices in a potentially hyper-stimulated environment.

By referring to the value of their experiences accumulated from the ‘Imprography’ workshop I use critical feedback to enhance a student’s potential for improvement .

After acquiring such a rigorous background in traditional Korean dance I am now committed to the notion that the creativity and skill of each student/artist is distinct. Respectively, they are able to produce promotive thoughts and deepen their trust and confidence. I feel that within my classes and workshops, my task is primarily to be attentive to each individual’s activity, processes and states. It is through this reflective and observational process that allows my own research to continually expand and evolve.