SNDO programme is a carefully curated maze of workshops, longer and shorter courses, labs and encounters, and performance periods to enable most relevant and newest practices and developments alongside confirmed ones to find place in the curriculum. Students are expected to follow and engage with all different programme components and especially when these differ from those a student is already familiar with. Looking for nuance, opening up new registers in ways of moving and thinking, through commitment, curiosity and investigative approach is highly valued and expected of students.
As a school the SNDO is a research lab where different practices meet. There is a number of Amsterdam based artists who regularly teach at SNDO. These practitioners’ workshops and courses grow and develop through time. The fact that every year a study group has its own dynamic leads to courses never having a static formula. Guest teachers and artists develop teaching practice and refine own pedagogical skills not only prior to entering SNDO but rather by and through teaching in this context. For the majority of teachers and artists the educative practice is an extension of their professional work as choreographers, makers, dancers or theoreticians. This means that often entering the classroom is not only the first encounter between the students and the guest, but it is at times also the first encounter of the guest with this context. This requires openness and generosity on behalf of guest and students alike. This also means that approaches to teaching, creating a lab, hosting a seminar, conducting a workshop will vary from one course to another.
This non-standardized approach is due to the fact that each of these courses is linked to the guests’ poetics, artistic interests and research. The invited guests are asked to put these practices at service of student’s own explorations. All the courses have what can be seen as ‘triple-bind’: the students are not only getting in touch with others’ approaches and developing their own but also developing tools to learn and study.
The ideas, contents and materials that guest artists and teachers bring into the studio or classroom is one part of the content. The other part consists of worldviews, references, ideas and visions of the students themselves. The SNDO study groups consist of carefully selected (young) artists who throughout four years shape not only their own artistic vision and practice but contribute to those of their peers.
Such an environment addresses and invites student’s maturity, independency and care for the discipline, field and world of dance and choreography beyond being a receiver of what the school can provide. Commitment and participation – both in flesh and spirit - are seen as a basic and most relevant study tools throughout the four years.
Throughout the programme students are expected to make their own links between the individual courses and the rest of the curriculum, and between the inputs and their own artistic practice.
The student understands that each environment is bound to (institutional and other) parameters, which offer not only a productive framework but can at times be limiting in regards to students desired ways of working, timelines or visions on choreography. The SNDO cherishes open dialogue and mutual efforts at making the expected frictions, between the structure and each individual student’s mode of operating, a productive part of study.
At SNDO there is a general understanding that learning is a non-linear and long-term process. Offered insights and knowledge are hardly to be given and received in a direct manner with a conclusion of each course. It is the interplay between different practices, approaches and knowledges and their interaction with student’s own interests and background at different points in time that contributes to students development. The four-year study is a dynamic period of ‘planting seeds’, having bigger and smaller revelations along the way and consciously and unconsciously storing some insights ‘for later’. These processes happen through commitment, curiosity, discipline and focus; but also resistance, annoyance or non-understanding are expected along the way. Where the former are necessary, sticking with and working through the latter often results in remarkable findings.