Drum Body workshops are a blend of drumming, movement, sound, breath, awareness and somatic philosophy. We explore the crossroads of the technical and organic in an atmosphere of learning that is simultaneously challenging, nurturing and playful.
I shape what we do based on the energy and needs of the group and the intention we set before we begin. I encourage people to find their “edge” while listening to what their core needs. Every workshop is different and I work with participants in body awareness, breath, connectivity, physical expression, coordination, and spatial interplay. Finding ways for people to be more fully embodied and connected through self to others. We work with our voice by connecting to our breath and adding tone. The breath is essential and allows us to feel the voice and trust our instincts as we create vocal landscapes and rhythm “jams”. Using our voice creates vibration within the body that has both physical and emotional benefits that carry us through the workshop and out into the world. I encourage people to find their “authentic voice” and gently let go of expectations. We do group and partnered work in both toning exercises and vocal jams.
We learn about elements of tempo, creativity, dynamics, pulse, counting, empowerment and invigoration. We ground in this work through group and partnered exercises in space before finally moving to the drum. We then combine the rhythm with movement through various exercises in physical expression and choreography. This form is not just drumming OR dance. Participants will learn to play the drum while setting their body in motion. This takes the learning and expression out of their heads and keeps it direct and in their body experience. We build our way towards moving in and out of the drums, from partner to partner and in various patterns utilizing specific and organic methods. This form invigorates, challenges and empowers while cultivating compassion, awareness and deep listening within the expanding knowledge of rhythm, human interplay and body wisdom.
~A powerful blend of drumming and movement that explores physical challenge and expression.
~A combination of solo, partnered and group exercises that engage every level of learning.
~ Specific exercises in movement, technique, improvisation, body percussion and vocal mnemonics.
~This dynamic form builds confidence, inspires and energizes.
Drum body is a form I developed out of years of training, performance, teaching and experimentation. Drumming and the body in motion are inseparable to me and I have developed a certain curriculum and tools for introducing and facilitating workshops focused on this. I believe these workshops offer learning that is both playful and empowering.
Drum Body…the name says so much. It makes me re-examine what a “drum” is and what the “body” is. We are the Drum Body because we are so intimately connected to the same design and nature as the drum and the world of vibration, pulse and rhythm.
In these workshops we are not sitting down. The brilliance of this work is that it is a blend of movement and drumming and moves beyond the titles of “musician” or “dancer” alone. Participant’s bodies will be set in motion as they learn to move in and out of drums, play interlocking rhythms and express both through their bodies and the drums.
The integration of 2 forms of coordination simultaneously challenges our established pathways of learning and therefore we need to expand these pathways. This can help to take the emphasis out of the mind and integrate it with direct body experience. Also, the connection of rhythm to movement lends the added support of muscle memory learning.
Drumming and movement brings a fuller connection to all parts of ourselves. We have emotions and memories in our muscles and fibers. Our personalities and personal maps lie within our bodies. Diving into ourselves through movement we discover ourselves. Combined with rhythm and the power of the drum, there is infinite potential for personal growth and group development. Movement affirms our being and the drum grounds it.
The exercises I have created will first expose participants to the vocabulary and coordination we will be exploring. After that, I integrate more organic methods of creation.
In the early stages I seek to offer several things that weave together as one. First, we will learn the foundations of rhythmic structure. In other words, how to count and understand the shape and relationships of rhythms and beats. Everyone must understand the mechanics and not simply be skilled at imitation. (Although there is a place in how we learn from imitation.) Second, we explore the essence of group dynamics. We learn to focus, start/stop together, listen, work with partners and discuss the bigger picture of the work. Solo, partnered and group exercises are blended based on the needs of each workshop.
In learning the body it is essential to develop a relationship with it. My exercises guide people in body mechanics, alignment, spatial relationships, expressivity, boundaries, breath, connection to the ground and other people. My influences come from training in Contact Improvisation, yoga, somatic education, Authentic Movement and personal exploration.
Body centered learning allows the experience flow through you and not limit you to the mind and/or memorization. We access our wisdom on a cellular level knowing that all parts of us sense, transmit and receive information. Each cell has it’s own intelligence. Bringing our bodies into full participation increases access to all our wisdom of body, mind and spirit.
We explore rhythm in the same conscious environment both on and off the drums. Once we have introduced technique and basic mechanics we progress to learning more complex rhythms and phrases. This involves the use of mnemonics, coordination, silence, texture, dynamics, layering of rhythms and varied count structure. I will give rhythms to be learned and also ask participants to create them. (Exercises in improvisation help lead the way into this sometimes intimidating realm.)
I believe improvisation and finding personal expression are key elements to getting inside rhythm. Once you begin to feel how you relate to and express with it, you begin to feel how it is not separate from you. Like learning any new language, we try to think, feel and express using this new form….we embody it.
I bring my extensive background in performance, study with a variety of teachers and forms, personal practice and passion to guide the body of this work. The voice plays a critical role in this work as well. Some of my greatest teachers have said, “if you can say it, you can play it”, and I find this to be true. There are times I will have the group play an entire sequence using their voice while air drumming or simply sing the rhythm while visualizing. I also do exercises as preparation for playing the drums where we create rhythmic “vocal jams” and join this to expressive movement. I have found this to be a powerful tool for developing a relationship to rhythm and movement.
I also believe using your voice unlocks our breath, which underlies all movement. Exercises that support breath and voice will constantly be explored as we learn to develop stronger relationships with them as keys to movement and rhythm.
The power and sound of the drum, combined with group energy and the body in motion offers an atmosphere of invigoration, empowerment, communication and connection to self, pulse and others. Participants come away with a sense of personal achievement, confidence, a deeper sense of connection and joy.
Many of the 4-8 week workshops culminate in an informal performance. This will be the work as we build on it and create sections and transitions that work for the group. We discover the work not only for ourselves but also in the space of sharing and expressing it to others. Audiences to this work are typically amazed with the dynamics and intricacies of the flow from one rhythm to the next and various patterns of movement. The sheer sonic power of the drum is felt in their bodies and enlivens their cells and nerves allowing them to sense the movement they are witnessing. This pulls them in to have a direct and personal experience.
My intention is to create an open environment for expression, growth, communication and empowerment. I believe the combination of rhythmic composition and movement in a group setting offers this as well as the atmosphere I strive to facilitate. This work can be incredibly challenging and really bring people to their ‘edge’. Someone’s ‘edge’ is a vulnerable place as well as one of growth and learning. It is the line where their comfort zone is ending and new territory is beginning.
The tools learned and utilized in this work are consistent with the journey of living our lives. The space of creating a stable core from which to engage our external environment and decipher clear pathways for our choices. The drum, our voice and our bodies are equal partners in this work. Our bodies are instruments that reflect the drum wisdom within us.
Our Drum Body.