The Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC) proudly welcomed Bessie and Albert Award winning artist Lisa Nelson to a School of Dance forum on April 1st. Nelson is currently in residence with Partnership Project: McKnight Artist Fellow’s HIJACK (MN). Nelson is an internationally esteemed dance-maker, researcher and teacher of improvisation who has been working in the field of dance for close to 40 years. She is a co-founder and co-editor of Contact Quarterly dance and improvisation journal since 1977 and is the creator of Tuning Scores, a practice that explores the physical senses in imagination and performance and through observation in movement.
Nelson shared her perspective and tools to help the students begin to be aware of their own observations and how they organize what they see. Four School of Dance students were invited to share works-in-progress or excerpts of finished work. Nelson then used their dance material to guide everyone in developing an awareness of their own conditioning in regard to their experience as viewers and performers. A handful of students were also asked to participate with HIJACK and their collaborators in short, improvisational exercises, experimenting with their eyes closed, while the audience responded to what moved them.
For students, it was an opportunity to work with and learn from seasoned artists at the vanguard of how we “see” dance and make meaning out of the experience. MA candidate Luis Lopez-Maldonado described his exhilaration in being able to show his work to artists of the caliber of Nelson and HIJACK. Moreover, he adds,
It was interesting to be given certain “tools” before each performance, by Lisa Nelson, with the intention of thinking about what you were seeing in a different, fresh way. It worked! It’s funny how sometimes we forget as performers or audience members to really look at dance…