Dominique Fester - Guest Blog

Jul 13 2018

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Dominique Fester

Hey! I'd like to introduce you to my colleague, friend and student Dominique Fester. 

Dominique came to my Introduction To Clowning weekend many moons ago and progressed onto the 10-week clown to performance course, before attending the Fooling summer school and eventually joining Beyond The Ridiculous, my company of fools. 

Impressed by her plethora of skills and experience, I've been supporting Dominique to set up and run her own physical theatre courses in Bristol. I've watched the waves of physical confidence she's inspired through Bristol's performance community and would heartily recommend her training. 

***She's offering a FLASH SALE 16th-19th July! Two participants for the price of one!***

Over to you, Dominique:

As I write this I am sitting in one of my beloved Bristol Cafe’s, sipping a coffee, and feeling the gentle buzz of anticipation in the air. It’s St. Paul’s Carnival today, the annual celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture in the city, and soon the streets of St.Paul’s will be packed with crowds, threading through the streets towards the explosion of joy and colour of the parade.

My Summer School. This glorious Indian Summer I decided to offer my course, usually studied over ten evenings, as a package delivered over five days. I feel excited at the possibility of students developing even deeper skills, through studying every day. Exploring ever richer landscapes of the imagination, as they journey together through mask, movement, and dancing, eventually falling into colour, poetry, and paintings.

I first fell in love with the teachings of Jacques Lecoq through a lecturer at university. Something in me responded to her teaching like it was a Siren Song. She also introduced me to the glories of the Five Rhythms Dance practice. The delight of shapeshifting through the different rhythms: The ease of Flow, the rigorous beat of Staccato, the lilting bounce of Lyrical, the mania of Chaos, and the peace of Stillness.

A language not of the tongue, but of the body.

In conjunction with this we studied the Lecoq method. Never before had I worked in such a beautiful way. Something of the abstract nature of contemporary dance, and the ache you get inside when you know you are seeing something magically ‘truthful’. So comprehensive. Each new skill, learnt within the method layering on top of the other, until you all spoke a special non-verbal language. Physical Theatre is Visual Theatre, the power of the moving image and the ability to tell a story, without relying completely on speech. I experienced the joy I see in my own students when they devise using this method. The passion, and the driving force of having a new, brilliant idea to try out!

How does this relate to performance?

Why do I mention all this? I return to my course. Because I want to give students a similar experience!

What will you get if you study the Summer Course with me?

  1. 1.) Confidence in Your Physicality.Your body can do things you never thought it could! I am not talking about grand, exhausting movements requiring you to be muscular and ‘ripped’, or complex choreographed sequences. But the small movements; a simple hand gesture, a change in dynamic. Physical Theatre, to me, is not about the tricks you can perform with the body, but the subtleties of communication, the softness as well as the strength.
  2. 2.) Technical Ability. You will learn a range of technical skills, in a gently theoretical way as we embed them in your body, where they will stay for life. A fluid language of non-verbal communication will be second nature to you by the end of the course. In addition the skills are highly transferable, to, for example, improv theatre, clowning, acting and your general presence in real life.
  3. 3.) You will learn in a ‘safe space’ where your freedom to explore is valued. I hold my spaces firmly. This is a space where we employ a ‘The Positive Feedback Model’ (Credit: Holly Stoppit). We are collecting, as a group, ideas of what we think works in this practice, not what’s ‘wrong’. Within this, each group personalizes the experience and finds different things interesting/exciting. You will all develop a special group identity as well as a unique individual style.
  4. 4.) You will experience deep joy and lashings of humour! Provided by you! Though this course is not designed specifically to be a comedy course, every time I have delivered it, it has involved A LOT of laughter! We spend a good deal of time looking at ‘everyday life’ and when we hold a mirror up to ourselves the results are amusing! We also move into more poignant territory with Neutral Mask, and Universal Poetic Awareness (UPA), where the drama, and struggles of human existence are explored and we touch upon the tragedy of the human condition.
  5. 5.) You will become part of a community. I won’t be expecting you to take any vows (!) but you will end up becoming part of a warm and welcoming Bristol community, full of lovely, curious beings. The Lecoq method is primarily ‘ensemble based’, in other words, it’s meant to be devised/performed as a group, made of unique individuals. Instant playmates! Whatever our day-to-day lives are….

The course runs from 30th July - 3rd August, at Hamilton House. Follow this link to apply.

FLASH SALE 16th-19th July! Two participants for the price of one Standard rate £125. Find a buddy and come and play!

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