Harper Piver

Movement – Media – Music

Summer Study #1: Joe Goode Performance Group Intensive

Featured Articles, Summer Study

Now that spring break is ending, I am anticipating summer. For me summer means a much needed break from teaching and the opportunity to be a student for a short while.

Last summer I went to San Francisco to participate in the Joe Goode Performance Group’s annual workshop. The week was intense and packed with opportunities to learn more about the company and its work.

In the mornings we took a two-hour class geared at preparing the body for creative work. Possibly because the workshop was geared to dancers and theatre people (although it was mainly dancers), class dealt more with making connections and stripping away unnecessary actions than complicated phrase work. We built slowly to phrases that felt juicy enough to satisfy the needs of those who really wanted to move while not alienating those who didn’t. We focused on the connection between the head and heels, the connection to the ground, and the placement of the pelvis in space. Throughout the week we had the opportunity to take class with Joe and several of his company members, each of whom added a unique contribution to the underpinnings of the day prior. The use of the voice came in as we were encouraged to sing in class with the percussionist when and if we wanted.

The afternoons varied from voice work to partnering. The days wrapped up with writing activities from which we pulled material for text and movement to be used in creative studies with partners. The underlying message of the creative work was to use felt material. The idea is that by listening to the body’s response to material that feels right and following our intuition, unnecessary material will fall away, leaving the heart of the message.

Both Joe and his company were warm and supportive, creating a welcoming environment for the participants. The group, ranging in age from 18 to fifty-something came from across the country for the week, though many Bay Area dancers took part as well. We were fortunate in the level of commitment and willingness to take risks emanating from the group as a whole.

Personally, after a long year of teaching, it was a joy to be given the gift of a week with space, knowledgeable guides, and great collaborators with whom to experiment and have fun exploring the creative process. I would highly recommend this workshop for anyone interested in these ideas.