The programme is built from an understanding that dance performers today develop their craft from multiple, interconnected sources and experiences of movement and performing. Thus, the term ‘contemporary dance’ is understood in a broad, expanded sense, or rather in its true sense: as diversity of people, practices, aesthetics and cultures; in short as a process and context rather than a style. Contemporary dance is constantly being redefined by complex histories and relationships to the present, entertained by different dance artists and dance communities. Thus, the content of the program does away with the Western choreographic canon as its unique core. It expands to the (often marginalised) expressions and techniques, considering them as important, and indeed, legitimately canonical.
Aiming for a” comprehensive” curriculum in such a heterogeneous and plural contexts becomes rather meaningless. The ECD curriculum is at the moment resting on pillars of Euro-American, African, and Street and Club contemporary dance references. Next to that, it is guided by a strong link between physical practice and artistic creation. Rather than having a completely fixed schedule of technique, improvisation, composition classes, flexible guidelines are used. Thus, the regular training can be adapted to the artistic projects curated every year. This approach can:
Importantly, functional and principle-based approach to physicality is aimed at supporting diverse dance training. Instead of mastering a fixed movement code, students are invited to build the awareness of their own physicality through different forms of movement. Dance technique classes, somatic practices, movement analysis, experiential anatomy, and fitness classes all gravitate around this exploration. Curriculum is structured around movement functionality implied by different movement vocabularies and aesthetics. The learning is equally supported by theory and contextual subjects which nourish students’ artistic reflection.
Last, but not least, the program strives to giving space to what the students themselves bring: their backgrounds, interests and development trajectories. Individual, artistic and cultural differences are valued and attended to, whether they produce harmony or friction, in a context where everyone can learn from everyone. Students’ artistic input is instrumental to the development of the program.
This approach translates into a rich and vigorous training programme. Students follow a combination of classes, workshops and projects (own work, creation, repertoire, interdisciplinary work, research) that provide numerous opportunities to train, work with inspiring, challenging and relevant artists from diverse cultural contexts, as well as the opportunity to perform often and in a variety of formats. Students develop their technique, physical awareness, improvisation and composition skills, extended theatrical skills, as well as knowledge of production and entrepreneurial aspect of dance profession.
Upon graduation students have the technical skills, physical and mental awareness, imaginative and creative abilities, reflective and critical capacities, to start their life-long careers in dance. However, we also hope that they will have something more and perhaps richer.
By broadening our perspective and redefining our understanding of what ‘contemporary dance’ is, we want to offer students a place where they can develop their artistic personality and challenge their (world)views. We invite students to think and act as artists with their own voice. In this way, next to being able to work with established choreographers and companies they will hopefully have the confidence to carve their own unique path as artists. They will find perhaps their own way to help create new possibilities to envision the world and to keep dance evolving.
Our hope as well is to continue challenging ourselves as a learning community, working on what dance training and education can be rather than perpetuating the same ideas of what it should be. Since an education is a first stepping stone into a professional dance world, we - ECD students, teachers, staff and guest artists alike - hope to be able to contribute to the ongoing process of diversifying the choreographic canon as well as new creations, and be involved in the ongoing effort to change the modes of doing and making in the professional world, to a field that is based on open imagination, sharp thinking, and above all, equality and mutual respect.