A Dancer’s Transformation Through Coaching

An energizing experience
David Rancourt was my coach to learn a solo from the work Gratter la pénombre by the choreographer Alan Lake. I was privileged to work with this inspiring artist who helped me perform this wonderful 6-minute solo. The solo we learned was mainly focused on floor work. We faced a number of challenges, but David’s expertise allowed us to get details so that we could then practise on our own and implement his corrections and suggestions. We were a small group of four dancers, which allowed us to ask questions and quickly get personalized advice to get involved in the work. It was a wonderful, rewarding experience from start to finish.
The coaching activity is meant to be a laboratory to provide opportunities to try, fail and try again without judgment. Each member of our group watched and listened attentively. Everyone was proud to see the others’ work, while together feeling stressed. David’s generosity enabled us to together create an atmosphere based on rigorous and enjoyable research. This was a privilege; we were all very grateful to have a professional dancer physically demonstrate and explain the desired sensations and provide every detail possible.
During the process, I realized that learning a dancer’s choreography isn’t the same as being a choreographer’s dancer. The information isn’t expressed in the same way when the dancer conveys the information. It’s more personal. We receive and then appropriate an interpretation prepared in advance by a dancer. Watching my colleagues learn this choreography allowed me to understand how a choreographer’s interpretation changes from one body to another. Everyone has their own way of interpreting and performing it. It’s almost magical to see how bodies express dance differently. To my delight, I then found myself in the studio practising this solo alone many times, sweating, stressing, smiling, tiring, persevering, repeating, controlling, enduring and concentrating. It had been a long time since I had experienced this kind of individual work and pressure. It was a motivating and encouraging rehearsal.
I learned how I could improve my physical floor work with some images suggested by David such as the “Ikea drawer,” which allowed me to perfect my ability to cushion the movement, i.e. the suspension needed to prevent the impact of the body’s weight that forcefully lands on the ground. Honestly, thanks to this image, the more the process progressed, the more I felt like water flowing on the ground. Water that feeds the soil and land. I rooted myself, like a tree trunk with thirsty roots (a very “contemporary dance” analogy). In terms of interpretation, I really appreciated his concept of “almost nothing,” since it helped me understand more nuances between showing all of your emotions to the public or remaining completely neutral. This allowed me to better understand that the interpretive work lies in the dancer’s ability to share their sensitivity through the body and face. To let the body speak first in order to bring their emotional sensitivity to life. A lively, vigorous and expressive body keeps the movement alive. That said, both tools greatly helped me delve deeper into the work.
Finally, everything went too quickly for my liking. The work was so interesting from a physical standpoint that time went by very quickly. After this experience, I felt stronger, more confident and re-energized in order to continue the second half of my training. Honestly, I don’t feel transformed, but rather motivated to persevere. After completing this coaching exercise, I acquired new movement qualities that I’ll definitely have for the rest of my life.
- Sabrina Dupuis, 2nd 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 : Ariane Famelart

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