Contemporary for professionals

by Manuela Lucia Tessi

Contemporary for professionals


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Imagination and Musicality

In these classes we focus on refining the relationship between movement and musicality, while warming up the body and gaining availability for a wide range of movement possibilities. I share movement research drawn from my practice of making dance material, combined with a background in various contemporary dance techniques, and years of work with improvisation in performance.

In the warm up we start with activating the deeper musculature closer to the bones and the spine to help softening the outer layer of muscles, gaining more freedom and range in movement access. We will practice different ways to relate to the ground, raising and falling in an effortless yet dynamic way and constantly changing the tone of the body. We will work with spirals, subtle and unpredictable weight shifts and sequentiality.

Given movement pathways will be alternated with open form research tasks. In the pathways one movement is calling organically the next one, in a way that the memorisation of movement feels logical to the body organisation.

In the class a lot of attention is directed to the relation spine to limbs: spine and torso as main generator of movement to allow the limbs to be free, articulate, precise and expressive in space.

I like to think of movement in terms of what it would sound like if it were music, and I’m interested in how a ‘dance can be heard’ and how we can indeed ‘listen’ to the musicality of our movement. I will introduce three specific areas of movement research with a focus on how each relates to different aspects of musicality: tone (how different body tone can change movement quality), weight (and its relationship to rhythm), articulation (quality of pause, attack, and accent). A deeper understanding of musicality in movement can lead to more clarity in the tension and emotion of the material we compose.

Manuela Lucia Tessi is a dance artist that has dedicated the last 20 years developing dance performance in close collaboration with musicians and composers from diverse backgrounds. Originally from Italy, she is based in the Netherlands , and spends part of the year in Cape Town, as well as being frequently in Berlin.

She completed her dance studies at the Modern Theatre Dance department at the AHK in Amsterdam and has continued to deepen the research on movement and interdisciplinary composition with Katie Duck, one of her greatest creative influences, a.o. Her great motivation to create movement is in relationship to the sonic and when creating, teaching and collaborating she refers to movement to be listened to, sound to be seen. Her work is often process oriented, however there is much care for the product: she believes in the organic connection between the two.

She looks for sensuousness and embodiment in dance, often referring to kinesthetic empathy, how is the movement being read by the spectator not solely with the eyes and intellect, but perceived on a visceral level.

Besides performing, Manuela teaches movement research and improvisation in various settings, and curates platforms that foster the interdisciplinary collaboration of music and dance in performance. Some of her recent collaborations are with her partner Thalia Laric, with whom she directs MusicDance Cape Town; the Amsterdam ensemble Moving Strings, directed by violist Maya Felixbrodt; Makiko Ito, with whom Manuela has been dancing many years in Wonderland, a series of music and dance performances for young audiences; and Musiktanznulldreissig, a series of music and dance performances co directed with flutist Friederike Wendorf in Berlin.
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