Morning Practice - what can I say! It is everything really.
It’s a moving meditation, a tonic to the ache of missing the dance studio.
It really is a space for contemplation, enquiry and creativity through moving and dancing...
It’s just a wonderful space to move freely, be inspired and share space with others.
It’s connection and joy supported by a beautiful community and some banging tunes!
Open Practice, as "an hour for dancing", for me has turned out to be:
for thinking through moving, and having that regular space to work things out in my body; for crashing around; for lazing about; for actually momentarily feeling quite elegant; for getting real with my always-present desire to be a one-woman mosh pit; for dialing down the worrying (about all manner of stuff) and then having ways forward surface in my mind; for having that lovely feeling where you just lie on the floor for a bit watching and soaking up other people’s (remote) energies. For revelling in music’s power to hurtle me to other points in time – a school hall in Cheshire, a Manchester disco, a South London punk pub, a field near Glastonbury, and then, onward, to previously unimagined spaces beyond this room, and maybe even this life... spaces which maybe, in some future, I can come visit in person, why not, because for now reality, as we thought we knew it, is broken open, or at least, on hold. For working out how disoriented and off-balance I can safely get in a time of limited space and non-negotiable furniture. For debating maths problems and the need to get dressed with my off-screen companions. For laughing out loud with the sheer pleasure of watching others dancing with such heart whilst negotiating their own things. For wondering what to make of it all. For respecting the value of turning up, tuning in, dropping into something. A satisfying Zoom experience: Open Practice itself becoming a practice. It’s been a real-life, freeing thing in these virtual, cooped-up times, and it’s going to keep rippling outward. "I. Feel. Love." [citing Charlie Morrissey and Donna Summer. In that order.]
It's been a glorious, amusing, ridiculous, rebellious, tender loving thing.
I’ve spent nearly 40 years making performances and never committed myself to anything like this before. Early on, I asked Charlie if ‘practice’ was the right word because I wasn’t sure I could practice something I don’t know how to do.
At first, I had my camera off. And then I looked out of the windows and tried to copy the birds, clouds, cars, people and tried to trace the shape of roofs, hills, trees, smoke. And then I came inside. And I spun. I found my spin.
I shall miss this like mad. It’s changed me. Those glimpses of others dancing, in all their brilliant variety. Me with them, these people I’ve never met yet somehow know. I’m delighted with the boldness of its ending, knowing that remembering this half year of dancing will become a thing and that I’ll be left with what’s changed.
Charlie and Rob are two of those rare humans who just get on and do things that alter the shape of stuff around them and touch others. I’ve no doubt that something else will emerge as yet unthought of, spinning us in new directions.
I am writing this during a week where, unusually, I can’t make open practice. I’m back in a studio with humans this week. And as I adjust to the return to the real time encounters that we in the dance community have been longing for, I can feel just how much Wainsgate Open practice has held me steady through the last 6 months when I haven’t been able to be doing what I do. From 9-10 in the morning in my front room for most weekdays and for what feels like a long time, I’ve waded and waltzed and wept and wandered, alone and together because of the offer that Charlie and Rob and all of us who show up have made to each other and the ourselves. It’s been a bit like going to church, a bit like going to a class where no one is teaching, a bit like a strange meditation, a bit like cleaning away the cobwebs, a bit like a party with old friends that I’ve never met, a bit of a conundrum, a bit of a lifeline and a bit of an endurance test.
And as open practice winds, it’s way towards a finish line of sorts, I am cheering it on loudly and heartily. This offer from and towards artists is a model of a loving and defiant structure that makes me very very full of a faith in the humans that I’m lucky to call my open practice friends.
Wainsgate Dances’ Morning Practice has been nothing short of a life line, one that reaches back to myself and across to so many other people around the globe.
Against all odds, Charlie and Rob have provided the very best start to the day imaginable for movers of all kinds… and done it for months and months!
It offers a progressive, egalitarian and generous model for how people can come together in the future, be it in person or online.
I'm going to miss it: a shimmy with jazz hands and a high leg kick simply isn’t the same on your own!
Ahh Open Practice has saved me! It really does feel like it has held me together in some way these past months. The reliability of it, knowing it would be there every morning 9am sharp and that it would be filled with so many smiling people. These morning-eyed and bright-eyed people who have energised me when I have just heaved myself out of bed at 8.59am to open my laptop and join. And when I haven’t joined, I have felt a bit lost throughout the rest of the day. It has been a really welcome structure and a beautiful, social, meditative way to enter into my lockdown days.
I have felt liberated, I have sung unknown lyrics loudly in my room, I have eaten my breakfast in company, I have been transported to all corners of the world, I have re lived happy memories of festivals and parties and friends, I have discovered tons of new music, I have danced for 60 minutes straight with my eyes closed, I have seen my neighbours opening their curtains naked as I dance looking out of the window, I have noticed what time different people open their blinds each day, I have cried, I have laughed, I have shouted, I have struggled, I have worried about what I will do when this ends, I have continually told the critical voice in my head to eff off 🙂 and most importantly I have reconnected with the JOY and escapism of moving and dancing. Working in dance can make me feel so distanced from the very thing that made we want to pursue it in the first place: the sheer happiness moving your body can bring. So I am so grateful to Charlie, Rob and everyone who has rocked up and rocked out at Open Practice for helping me find it again. Particularly in a year where I have questioned dancing for work more than ever, like… what is the point when there is so much horrible stuff happening in the world? But omg there is SO much point. But it took this generous offer to help me find all of that again. So THANK YOU. I will honestly miss it so much.