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General note: the text below is a general description of the principles of the curriculum of the Training Cycle 2013-2016.
General aims and methodology
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, creative development and theoretical reflection.
The Training cycle is aimed at students aged between 18-25, who want to become a professional dancer and or choreographer. The school aims to strengthen and enrich their dance skills in the broadest sense, to expose them to professional working practice under the guidance of experienced artists and teachers, and to support and nurture their creative voices. Key considerations are to teach and encourage students to think, to research, and to communicate; and to develop an open mind and a caring attitude.
The Training cycle does not offer separate sub-programs for dancers and choreographers. Both ‘technical information’ and ‘conceptual content’ (if one can make such general distinctions) are important for future dancers and choreographers alike, and it is up to the student, with the school’s help, to work out an individual pathway that is tailor-made to reflect both his current needs and his longer-term goals.
A PARTS graduate can go on to be either a dancer, a choreographer or a dance maker. They may end up in a company, in a temporary project, or working alone. They may be in permanent employment, or be a nomadic freelancer. But whatever path they decide to take, they will need a clear personal profile, based on professional knowledge and skills, as well as on the choices that they make from a wealth of opportunities.
For a very large part of the program, all students follow the same trajectory (often different teachers work in parallel groups on the same topics). At the end of the 2nd year and in the 3rd year, some periods offer divergent parallel options, allowing students to choose what suits their interests and development best .
Since all teachers at PARTS are guest teachers, their teaching takes place in blocks of 2-8 weeks, 4 or 5 sessions per week.
For biographies of the teachers, please check the Teachers page
The classical technique presents a clear and functional architecture for the body. The classes focus on the form and functionality of classical ballet, and disregard its stylistic and hierarchical aspects. This open approach, focused on the functionality of movement, makes ballet appropriate for a wider range of body types. The stress on functionality, mechanics and organic movement also make a strong connection to the release approach in the contemporary classes.
The classes focus on developing a correct basic position, endurance and speed, coordination, musicality, differentiation of movement qualities, transitions between diverse movements, and the use of weight.
1st year: 29 weeks / 4 days a week /90’ class/ 189 hours /2 or 3 parallel groups
In the daily contemporary classes, the student builds up knowledge of movement principles, learns to integrate them into dynamic combinations and to apply them in repertory fragments. The student learns to know his/her body and its way of functioning, and to use it in a respectful, efficient and personal way. During the technique classes, a basis is developed for open experiment, releasing patterns and trusting the unknown.
Many technique classes focus on ‘release based technique’, which does not represent a formal ‘school’ but rather a set of very individual practices which have a number of premises in common: an analytical approach to the body, working on the conscience of individual movement patterns, and bending patterns which do not serve the efficient use of the body.
Because release technique is not bound to a coded or copyrighted technique or to a specific set of aesthetics, the individual experience and direction of the teacher becomes very important, resulting in the strong diversity inside the programme. Some teachers also work with a certain distance to the release technique.
In the 3rd year, the contemporary dance classes are more linked to the idea of personal, artistic and dance technical research. The teachers develop explicit links between technique and creativity, between physical exploration and thinking: improvisation, movement scores, composition, performativity, bodywork. Teaching technique is a way to help students find and refine their own approach of ‘technique’, which they will have to continue doing during their professional career – and usually all by themselves.
1st year: 36 weeks/ 5 days a week/ 90’ classes/ 242 hours/ 2 or 3 parallel groups
3/ Independent technical work (ITW)
ITW is reserved for the 3rd year. It’s an optional choice as part of the morning programme, usually as an option against the ballet class that takes place at the same time. Students can use this time to process the information from different technique classes at their own pace, and to develop a personal practice which would be helpful for them in the professional context.
The improvisation workshops are extensions of the technical classes. The often playful and open forms help the dancer to break through fixed patterns, and be surprised and pushed forward by the events in the group. The necessary alertness sharpens the senses and teaches how to deal with a group.
The Improvisation technologies (as developed by William Forsythe) is a method that is mostly spatially and conceptually oriented (a.o. on the basis of Laban’s system of body directions). Through techniques of deconstruction and recombination, parts of the body are isolated and movement phrases are developed for them. The relation between improvised material and fixed movement phrases, both in the creation process as in a performance situation, are an important field of research.
1st year: 3 weeks/ 5 days a week/ 3h classes/ 42 hours/ 3 groups
Passing through has been developed by David Zambrano and is taught by himself and others he has trained. Zambrano’s approach offers a more organic, intuitive and impulsive method to create movement patters. The focus is on the development of a sensorial sensitivity: which relations can be developed with the ‘world’ (space, people) around you. Movement is considered as interaction with that world.
1st year: 4 weeks/ 5 days a week/ 3h classes/ 59 hours/ 3 groups
In the workshop Contact Improvisation students are confronted with the pure basis of dancing together, the contact between two or more bodies. The dancers learn to recognise, discern different types of shared weight, and to work with them. An individual dancer must learn to release his grip and to surrender to the momentum of the movement with a partner.
1st year: 2 weeks/ 5 days a week/ 3h classes/ 30 hours/ 3 groups
In the 2nd year, there is an additional workshop improvisation, focusing on improvisation as reserach tool and as performance tool for spontaneaous composing.
The main goals of our composition classes are:
. to develop a ‘tool box’ with a variety of composition skills, developed through experimentation
Composition is divided in several workshops given by different teachers. In the 1st year, the focus is on a general introduction of the toolbox. In the 2nd year, there are three different workshops. One starts from the compositional methods of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, as explained in the book series ‘A choreographer’s score’. Students study the principles and work on applying them to their own ideas and materials. A second workshop presents a very different approach coming from different principles in music composition. A third workshop digs deeper into the compositional methods of specific artists such as Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, William Forsythe, Jonathan Burrows and Xavier Le Roy.
In the 3rd year, the focus is on the creation of group work by the students themselves, starting from scores and materials handed over by choreographers.
The study of repertoire is a confrontation with the vocabulary of a specific artist. The aim is to offer insight into how a work is constructed and structured, not through analysis from a distance but by putting it in practice. In some workshops, the focus is on a clear and correct interpretation; in others, new versions are made based on the basic framework of the original. Both approaches challenge the students to express themselves in a strong, highly developed and imaginative vocabulary.
The repertoire workshops stimulate the choreographic thinking of the students, introduce new ways to generate and structure material, to handle patterns, complex sequences, ideas of space, multitasking and dancing in groups.
The repertoire focuses on the main artistic cornerstones of the PARTS program: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Trisha Brown, William Forsythe and Pina Bausch.
1st year: repertoire Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (Drumming): 5 weeks/ 5 days a week/ 3h classes/ 75 hours/ 3 parallel groups
By working with a choreographer on a creation, students are confronted in the most direct way with the thinking and working methods of professional artists. In most cases, such processes also create a lot of space for the individual contributions of the participating students – the ‘authoritarian’ model of authorship has become a rarity in the professional field, and students show little enthusiasm for taking up a mere ‘executing’ role.
In the 2nd year, the workshop with invited choreographer focuses on composition and methodologies (see composition).
2nd year: 4 weeks/ 5 days a week/ 3h classes/ 60 hours /students choose 1 out 4 offered in repertoire or composition
Learning to choreograph is first of all a matter of having time, space, opportunities and freedom to experiment, and to look for a working method, content, dramaturgy and form. PARTS does not presuppose specific aesthetics, methodologies or definitions of authorship, but provides coaching and feedback by teachers and invited artists.
Solo: in the 1st year, all students create a solo, to be presented at the end of the year. Students organise themselves, feedback and coaching is provided through working groups, where students develop peer-to-peer support and feedback, guided by an experienced coach.
Duet: in the 2nd year, all students create a duet, which is framed as a specific task: to develop a work relating to a specific musical composition, to be chosen from a pre-defined list. Students also collaborate with musicians who perform the music in the presentations. In 2014, the musicians were students from the post-master program Contemporary music from KASK, Ghent.
Group work: in the 3rd year, students work in larger groups to create new work, guided by one or more from their peers or as a collective creation.
Enacted practices: a 3-week studio-based workshop where the different artistic, practical and ehtical aspects of practicing dance and choreographyare investigated and discussed.
Individual personal work: in the 3rd year, students can propose personal work projects instead of specific workshops, for research and/or creation in small or larger groups. Each group can benefit form the support of a mentor.
1st year: solo: outside the regular curriculum
These courses offer a theoretical and practical reflection on the study of the body; these practices are not less artistic in themselves but serve to reinforce the artistic practice. The body is the main instrument of the dancer, and by learning to know it well and use it well, a dancer can work better with it and prevent injuries.
Some teachers work with Do-Zen, based on Oki yoga and Iyengar yoga, adapted towards the needs of dancers. The main goal is to offer a better insight in and knowledge of the body, at the same time as the full body is strengthened and made more supple. It aims to create an open state. Other teachers work with Hatha yoga, in which specific combinations of physical postures and breathing exercises bring quietness for the mind, warm up the body and raise the consciousness of the alignment of the body, and bring power into the limbs and joints.
The yoga class increases the consciousness of the individual body and the limitations that can be worked on. For the students, it is also a warm-up an anchoring point. When practiced consistently for a long time, it is an important factor in injury prevention.
1st year: 36 weeks/ 4 days a week/ 1h class/125 hours/ 2 parallel groups
The shiatsu workshop takes place in the 3rd year. The study of shiatsu offers a different perspective for understanding the functions and movement dynamics of the body. The classes focus on a.o. concept of hara (body center), the concept of yin and yang, the relation between movement and breathing, the dynamics of food and its effect on the physical and mental conditions.
Shiatsu helps the students gain more insight into their mental and physical condition, to support the demanding dance training.
3rd year: 9 weeks/ 1 day a week/ 4h class/ 36 hours/ 1 group (5 weeks are common, 4 weeks are optional),
3/ Pilates, Feldenkrais
Next to the intensive yoga training, PARTS introduces a limited number of different physical training practices. Diversity can be enriching and produce additional experiences in the development of physical and movement knowledge. Different body types can need different approaches of physical and movement research. This diversity helps the students to make an informed choice of what is best for heir body.
2nd year: 12 weeks/ 4 days a week/ 1h class/ 48 hours/ 2 groups
Anatomy classes are organised in the 1st and 2nd year. The classes provide a global insight into the skeletal, muscular, visceral and neurological systems of the human body. Special attention is given to the interactions between these systems, especially those that are important for dancers. Another focus is on anatomical knowledge that can help prevent injuries.
After a series of theoretical classes, this knowledge is practiced in the Experiential Anatomy classes, which work with observation, directed touch and imagery to clarify each student’s understanding of their unique physical structure and patterns of moving. This research uses principles from mindful physical practices, such as the Alexander Technique, Ideokinesis, Anatomical Release Technique and Body Mind Centering: slow sensory investigations leading into full-bodied dancing where new embodied awareness and insight can be applied within improvisational tasks.
1st year: theoretical anatomy: 4 weeks/ 8 hours/ 2 hours a day/ 2 groups
By concentrating intensively on a different performing art, one feeds the relation with one’s own art. The confrontation with texts and theatrical presence can help the student become a more creative, inventive, autonomous or shortly better dancer.
Different teachers use very different approaches: some work with existing plays, classic or contemporary, others with montages of texts or material written by the students. Sometimes the process is inherently collective; sometimes it starts more from the individual participants. But all approaches stress on the quality of acting, the ‘credible’ performance of texts and finding an open relation between character and performer.
In the 1st year, the aim is to let the student find calm and security is saying texts on stage. The student feels the gaze of the audience, but there is no way out through dancing, there is only text. In the 2nd year, the workshop builds further on the achievements of the previous year, but the material becomes more complex and challenging for the personality of the student.
1st year: 5 weeks/ 5 days a week / 4h classes/ 100 hours/ 5 parallel groups
1/ Music analysis
The central aim of the course is to develop a personal discourse about one’s musical experience. This happens through listening sessions on specific themes (classical, jazz, opera) in which one speaks about the main parameters of music, its performance and listening experiences in a general terminology, rather than in musical jargon.
The course is constructed over two years. In the 2nd year, the class is linked to the duet task (see personal work): students select a piece of music from a list of possibilities to make their choreography. The music analysis classes study and contextualise these works.
1st year: 3 weeks, 5 days a week (2h), 30 hours (2 or 3 parallel groups)
In the 1st and 2nd year, there is a weekly collective singing class (75 minutes. The classes train the individual voice and breathing, group singing, the experience of producing music.
A first approach focuses on relaxation and breathing, letting the voice vibrate through the body and the head, letting the voice be felt as a physical instrument. This makes a strong connection with the approaches of the body during the dance classes. A second approach is in the experience of singing though improvisational techniques (rhythmic, modal, words) which steer away from the pressure to sing ‘correctly’. A last approach focuses on the singing of polyphonic repertoire.
In the 3rd year, there are optional classes where students work in very small groups of three, outside the regular class time. Here, they can focus on the individual level of the student and work on improving it.
1st year: 19 weeks, 1 day (1h15), 24 hours, 3 parallel groups
In the 1st and 2nd year, every week a rhythm class is organised. The class starts with building up a basis for a common approach of rhythm. With the help of the body, clapping, breathing, voice an a syllabic system (all organic approaches), several parameters are constructed: divisions of time, cycles, ternary and binary rhythms, oral traditions, collective games, polyrhythms, relation between ‘up’ and ‘down’ and its transcription in the western system of solfeggio.
From there on, the class continues with more complex structures from Indian, African and Afro-Cuban traditions, jazz, European folk music and contemporary classical music (Steve Reich, Olivier Messiaen). Rhythm is linked explicitly to the physical experience of space and time.
1st year: 20 weeks, 1 day a week (1h15), 25 hours , 3 parallel groups
An autonomous artist must be able to reflect autonomously, to use his/her critical capacities. The theory classes offer information about art, performance, social and cultural theories. How can concepts help to get a grip on basic issues such as communication, theatricality and performance, subjectivity, the relation between art and society? The classes aim to stimulate reflection about one’s current and future practice on the one hand, and the place of art/dance in our culture and society on the other.
1/ Dance history
The course treats the main paradigms of the history of theatrical dance. Within each period, a number of historical cases (choreographers, forms, styles) are unfolded with the help of theoretical notions such as body, figure, spectacle, avant-garde, the sublime, expression, ritual, simulacrum, musicality and dance, thinking-concept-movement, spectatorship and participation.
In the 2nd year an additional seminar is spent on contextualising the early work of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, linked to the composition workshop that works on this theme. In addition to the Trisha Brown repertory workshop, there is also a short seminar contextualising her work.
1st year: 2 weeks, 5 days a week (3h), 30 hours, 3 parallel groups
The philosophy classes do not aim at offering a compendium or encyclopaedic overview of the history and main topics of philosophy, but start from a specific topic that is in the heart of the research of the teachers. Through the discussion of this topic, links to the history and structures of philosophy are naturally made. Topics range form aesthetics to political philosophy.
Next to the classes, students also have the task to write a paper, with every year a different stage in its development.
1st year: 2 weeks, 5 days a week (3h), 30 hours
In the 1st year, the introduction discusses basic concepts such as class, role, social ritual, institution, institutional differentiation, rationalisation, and also refers to classical sociological approaches and topics, such as the individual and consciousness as a black box, or theories of globalisation.
In the 2nd year, the sociology course focuses on the cultural field, through an institutional analysis of the structure and evolution of the Western art system. Another course in the 2nd year focuses on gender theories.
1st year: 1 week, 15 hours
4/ Performance analysis
In the performance analysis classes, students develop a vocabulary to discuss performances they have seen live or on video. The goal is to refine their reflection and discussion of art works, to go resolutely beyond ‘liking’ or ‘not-liking’ as the start of an analysis of an artwork.
2nd year: 6 weeks, 1 days a week (2h), 12 hours, 2 parallel groups
5/ Topical seminars
In the 3rd year, theory becomes even more a practice of reading, thinking and discussing. Theory is approach as theory, but the content of the seminars can be very diverse, ranging from very abstract concepts to concrete political or social issues, from themes that are very far from the arts to topics that deal with the relation between art and society. In 2015-16, seminars deal with topics such as artistic a versus political activism, methodologies of making work, queer theory, the bible, technologies of the self…
3rd year: 4 weeks, 5 days a week (3h), students choose 2-4 seminars of 1 week from 6 options
In the ‘management’ course, students learn to know and discuss about important elements of the organisation of professional life, such as production, organisation, touring, co-production, partnerships and curating, but also about time management, public funding.
3rd year: 1 week, 5 days a week (3h), 15h
During an X-Week, the normal operation modus of the school is suspended. The invited teacher can work with the students from morning until evening, five days long. The teacher can work in the school or outside school. The subject may be composition or improvisation, but also politics or visit to museums and exhibitions. We ask the artist to unveil their way of approaching art towards the students.
1st year: 1 week (30 hours)
2/ External project
In the external project, the PARTS students leave the safety of their dance studios in order to encounter very different dance traditions and cultural environments. For a period of 7 weeks, a group of students are heading to Senegal (Ecole de Sables in a village near Dakar), while another one is going to India (Pondicherry, in the South East). In both locations, they will collaborate closely with a group of young dancers from that region, learning traditional and contemporary dance forms from the local and Western traditions, improvising together, collaborating on the creation of new work, and discovering the cultural landscape of the environment. The group is coached by teachers from India/Senegal and PARTS teachers.
3rd year: 6-7 weeks
Doing an internship in a professional environment is possible in the 3rd year, in the period of the external project. The students who are interested take the initiative to look for a temporary position in a company, as dancer or artistic assistant.
4/ Other projects
The program can contain other special projects, either as integral part of the curriculum or as an optional extra.
In 2013-14, choreographer Cindy Van Acker created a site-specific work for the 53 students in Ostend, as part of the Dansand festival. Students worked with choreographer Femke Gyselinck and musician Lander Gyselinck on a structured improvisation performance on the occasion of the national Kids’ Arts Day. Students were also involved in the Museum Night Fever at the Wiels Contemporary Arts Center, working with visual artist Franz Erhard Walther.
Students at PARTS have different opportunities to perform the work they make in the school, either class work or their own work.
*Dance and theatre workshops and curricular personal work (solos, duets…) usually end with a final presentation for the school community.