A real sense of spring was filling the streets this morning on my way to the studio. Spring is in essence renaissance, which from its original French etymology means ‘rebirth’, to ‘be reborn’. Maybe as a coincidence or maybe as an ideal match, this week’s guest teacher is a French lady who is, professionally speaking, growing anew herself. Sandrine Monin, formal dancer at Phoenix Dance Theatre for the past five years, has recently embarked on the adventure of freelance artistry. With a palpable thirst for new horizons and a big smile on her face, Sandrine Monin takes the space; and we follow her into it.
The class begins nice and slow; a stretchy floor phrase that awakens the body, tuning into core and thighs. We stand up to continue working on a series of traditionally structured exercises which cover plies, tendus, upper body work, balances... although it’s used subtlety, Sandrine’s material is highly Cunningham influenced. It brings my thoughts back to renaissance, it being a movement that stands for the revival of classical-based art. I notice in my body the memories of familiar yet half forgotten shapes; I take the challenge to remember a language not spoken for a long time. As the session moves forward, the dynamics increase and so does our obstinace to fill up those blanks in our bodies and minds.
The session culminates with a phrase and an adagio where classic and contemporary are fused. I suspect the phoenix bird does not leave behind the knowledge acquired from its previous lives with every renaissance. I suspect it’s not a matter of starting from zero, but starting from fresh, with new eyes to see new possibilities, without dismissing that what has been gathered, but with the desires to gather even further.