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The PARTS curriculum is organised in 2 cycles, 'Training' and 'Research'. Although many courses are organised in both cycles, and similar principles apply, their philosophy differs a lot.
The basic cycle 'Training' aims to help the student gain insight in the technical foundations of contemporary dance and the specific PARTS approach, characterised by the combination of ballet and release technique, a focus on physical awareness, theatre and musical abilities and theoretical reflection. Over the years, the organisation of this cycle and the experience gained from it have sedimented the program into a more or less structured pattern.
The advanced cycle 'Research' is developed to allow the students to deepen their knowledge and most of all to apply it to their own creative work. The final goal is to attain a point where technical mastery and a remarkable personality (for dancers) or a personal movement language (for choreographers) come together. This cycle is open and experimental. Students can construct a large part of their study track by themselves. There are no specific pre-defined pathways for either dancers or choreographers.
In the course of the four years the student's technical knowledge is built up constantly and consistently. The students are given enough time to learn by themselves, to discover their own body and its movement potential.
An essential aspect of the PARTS training is the daily combination of classical dance and contemporary techniques. The decision to teach classical ballet in a contemporary dance training remains a cornerstone of our approach. We are especially interested in its architecture and its great consistency. Moreover it provides us with building blocks that remain important for contemporary dance. In the Training Cycle these classes are often given on two different levels. In the Research Cycle ballet is not a regular item on the program anymore, but students can in some periods join the ballet class of the Training Cycle.
The contemporary dance lessons are generally based on release techniques. Each teacher supplies a different approach, from a purely theoretical insight in the principles of movement to their integration in dynamic dance combinations, and ultimately to their creative treatment in excerpts from the repertory. Another cornerstone is Central-European dance, that has its own roots and its specific expressive and lyrical characteristics. In the first year 'floor work' takes pride of place, as it is of crucial importance in contemporary European dance and has particular technical requirements. In the second year contact improvisation is taught in order to promote working with partners and opening up to other dancers.
In the Research Cycle, students also develop their own physical practice, alone or in small groups, coached by the coördinator. This Independent Technical Work is an option in specific periods.
Improvisation and composition
In several workshops the students discover a variety of methods of generating and structuring movement material. Various approaches to improvisation and composition are presented at different levels of the training course.
Through the 'improvisation technologies' developed by William Forsythe a rational, mainly conceptually oriented methodology is provided, based on Laban's body directions system and others. Deconstruction and recombination techniques are used to elaborate movement sequences. RThis workshops takes place in the 1st year.
David Zambrano's improvisation workshop (1st year) offers a more organic, intuitive and impulsive approach to the creation of movement sequences. In both systems improvisation is a means to interact with other dancers, as well as a source of new insights. The connection between improvised material and set movement material is a significant research area.
Next to this, there is a 2-week contact improvisation workshop in both the 1st and 2nd year.
The composition workshops provide a broad range of tools for organising movement material. Structuring principles from art, science and philosophy are extensively explored and applied. In specific lessons and workshops an in-depth study of the relationship between music and dance is made. In addition to providing information about the use of music, these courses guide the students through their (often first) experience with the composition of dance sequences in relation to music in an informed and well-founded way. The students gradually develop a personal movement language and composition style, by completing specific assignments as well as by freely designing personal pieces according to their own preferences. The composition workshops take place in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year.
Repertory and guest choreographers
Practising the repertory is not an objective in itself. The study of repertory pieces confronts the students with a first-rate dance vocabulary, helps them gain a better insight into composition methods and provides them with the physical experience of interpretation. Repertory workshops are always taught by dancers who have been in the original creations of the pieces. Either complete pieces or excerpts are studied. Other repertory pieces serve as a basis for the creation of new versions using the same material and following similar construction rules.
Rosas productions having been taught over the previous years are Rosas danst Rosas (1983), Quatuor n°4 from Mikrokosmos (1987), Achterland (1990), the Grosse Fuge from ERTS (1992), Amor Constante más alla de la muerte (1994), Kinok (1994), Drumming (1998) and Rain (2001). Rosas repertory is featured is the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year of the curriulum, and also sometimes in the 4th year, where it has been a graduation option in 2008 and 2010, taking three months to bring the work on a level where it can be performed on professional stages.
Repertory pieces of William Forsythe (in the 2nd and 3rd year) include Artefact (1984), The Vile Parody of Address (1988), Die Befragung des Robert Scott (1986), Alie/n(a)ction (1992) and Hypothetical Stream (1996/97). They usually take place in the 2nd year, sometimes also in the Research Cycle.
Trisha Brown's Set and Reset (1983) is a core workshop in the program of the 3rd year, bringing together information from the technique classes and composition workshops. Students create new versions of the piece, based on the original movement material and the basic choreographic principles.
In the Research Cycle, guest choreographers are invited to go through an intensive creative process with the students, with or without the intention to create a piece for or with the students. Recent guest choreographers were a.o. Thomas Hauert, Jonathan Burrows, Xavier Le Roy, John Jasperse, Salva Sanchis...
The anatomy courses provide the students with both theoretical and practical movement analyses, always founded on observations made during the dance lessons, as closely linked as possible to the practice of dance.
In addition to the anatomy courses Body studies at PARTS cover Shiatsu and yoga, in which students discover an approach of the body based on Eastern philosophy. Yoga (based on the Do Zen and Hatha techniques) focuses on the conscious use of the body through concentration and meditation. It also helps to develop the body's strength and agility. Every day at PARTS starts with a 60-minute yoga session.
Shiatsu (pressure point massage) provides the students with a holistic body image and teaches them several manipulation techniques aimed at stimulating and maintaining the energy flow in body and mind.
Music and theatre
Music gets particular attention at PARTS, especially in the Traning Cycle. The music analysis lessons study the different parameters and stylistic aspects of music, with the view of enabling students to read and analyse a basic score. Through the dance composition workshops these lessons are linked to the students' personal work.
The rhythm lessons yield a tangible link between rhythm, voice and movement. Rhythmical structures are studied both in their oral and written form. The exploration of various rhythmical structures leads to their internalisation and integration in movement material.
The group singing lessons in the first and the second year are complemented with optional individual singing lessons for second and third-year students, focusing to a greater extent on technical aspects.
In the Research Cycle, the relation with music is developed through specific creative projects such as the danceXmusic creations in collabration with musicians from the orchestra of De Munt/ La Monnaie.
Theatre is an extremely important part of the PARTS training course and has been from the onset. In intensive five-week workshops small groups of first cycle students work with a theatre director and then perform before an audience. The Research Ccycle students create small theatre productions. The theatre workshops help the dancers to discover and develop their abilities as performers.
The theory courses cover two broad areas. The first concerns the history of dance and theatre. The students are not presented with a chronological compendium, but take part in an examination of the philosophical, sociological and artistic foundations of the contemporary performing arts. Frequent visits to the theatre and subsequent analysis of the performances sharpen the students' awareness of current artistic practice.
The general theory courses focus on sociology, philosophy and political theory. Their importance increases over the years of the course. The teachers offer the students a taste of what 'theory' can mean, providing them with methods, points of view and materials they can use for more in-depth personal study of the subjects. Through extensive reading, the writing of essays and excursions, the theoretical information is put in a tangible and interpretable framework.
The students' personal work is the Leitmotiv in all the workshops. Students are continuously expected to provide a personal translation of the material handed to them. Moreover, from the onset of the education in the Training Cycle, students have ample opportunity to develop their personal projects in the evening or over the weekend, when the PARTS studios are made available to them. In the first year, all students are asked to make or participate in one personal project; in the second year, they are required to make a solo and a duet.
In the Research Cycle personal work is one of the cornerstones of the training. Students can take time to develop creative processes, solo or in collaboration with fellow students. In this process they can be guided by choreographers and music or theory teachers. The Cycle can be concluded with a personal project, for which extended rehearsal time is set aside. Through these graduation projects the students familiarise themselves with subjects such as stage technique, lighting, scenography and costume design. In these matters PARTS favours a self-motivation policy : the students take full responsibility for the organisation, budget, artistic choices, etc.
At each level of the training course several types of presentations of the students' work are provided.
Workshop presentations : frequent private presentations by the participants of all workshops (improvisation, composition, theatre, repertory).
Student showings : at the PARTS studios the students present their personal work, created outside the curriculum. These showings are open to the public, but as the announcements are made informally, the audience mainly consists of the local dance community.
Student performances : the school makes a selection from the workshop presentations and Student showings. These performances, always staged at the PARTS theatre, are actively promoted to draw the general public. There are at least two series of performances a year.
Productions : the students conclude their training with a graduation project. After their presentation at the PARTS theatre, they tour extensively in Belgium and abroad, always at professional venues.