The creative component in professional training

At the École de danse contemporaine de Montréal, the niche is training creators/interpreters. This is one aspect that attracted me to the program. It’s clear that creation represents a significant portion of each course. Once I’ve graduated, I hope to have reached a high level of technique, but also to have developed my creativity, since the dance profession is not limited to the role of performance. In my opinion, it’s important to come up with and bounce ideas with choreographers and other dancers, putting forward a range of possibilities that can then be used or refined, according to a more precise vision of the work. 
Here’s a short overview of the courses and activities that allow me to express myself artistically during my training:
First of all, Composition classes definitely help develop my creativity, since we’re encouraged to create choreographic material ourselves. It’s been interesting to engage in creation in a wide variety of situations. For example, we had the opportunity to create a solo on our own, but also for another student and to create in small groups. We pondered on what makes a piece interesting (or not) and developed different creative tools. In this class, I discovered that anything was possible in dance—from the most wacky to the most sensitive. Everything has its place here!
Then, during three Creative Research courses, each dancer endeavours to get in touch with their feelings in order to produce movement. We are encouraged to think about this movement with the goal of presenting (or not presenting) it before an audience. During the last class with Andrew Harwood, we focused on improvisation, which requires being particularly alert and ready to respond at any moment to everyone’s ideas. It’s a question of knowing how to balance your desire to generate ideas and following others’ ideas. It’s a great opportunity to quickly work on creating material while allowing failure. We’re in a very open environment where it’s entirely possible and even encouraged to make mistakes and learn from our mistakes.
Also, we’re sometimes asked to be creative in a contemporary dance technique class. For example, the teachers Jamie Wright and Marc Boivin allow us to change sequences and practise our quick thinking skills. In Marc Boivin’s class, certain exercise parameters taught from Monday to Wednesday may be changed on Thursday and Friday, in order to push and surprise ourselves and listen to our bodies. It consisted in reacting as quickly as possible to constantly changing constraints (space, rhythm, movements, etc.). I think it's definitely a good way to practise as a dancer/creator, since we integrate spontaneity into our technical training.
Finally, the goal of this learning is to be able to apply it to a choreographic process. This is also true for the Interpretation class, which is given each session. In my opinion, it’s also the course that most closely resembles the professional world. Every choreographer we work with uses a different creative process, so it’s important to be able to easily adapt to a variety of creative processes and be autonomous. Some choreographers rely more on their dancers’ ideas, while others have a more precise vision of the movement right from the get-go. These are very diverse and rewarding experiences.
In addition to professional training courses, I enjoy the creative potential of two activities:
- Held several times per session at the EDCM, the soirées JAM events are organized by Raphaëlle Renucci and Silvia Sanchez, now EDCM graduates. At these events, students are free to draw on their creativity as they wish and the studio is open to any dance performance. These events, where live music is played, allow artists from various disciplines to meet: it’s definitely a good place to chat with other people who are passionate about art.
- The Incubator project is another way to express your creativity. Students at the school are invited to present their own creations and get public feedback. These studio presentations are held twice a year.
In short, there are all sorts of ways to express your creativity and there’s no shortage of opportunities!
- Catherine Bellefleur, 3rd year EDCM student
/// In the Student Life section, EDCM contemporary dance students put pen to paper: an opportunity to explore different viewpoints and topics related to professional training, the daily life of young artists and life in Montreal. ///
Photo: Julie Artacho | Dancer: Catherine Bellefleur

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