Also known as annual growth rings, these circular concentric folders store the history of the tree they belong to; information about its age, its surrounding or the weather conditions which it has been exposed to each year of its life. What’s the human equivalent of tree rings? Skin seem the straight answer, but apart from estimating someone’s ethnicity, age or fitness level, one wouldn’t be able to discover much more about someone only by dermis observation. I’m not a total fool; I understand that trees and humans are very different creatures and reading a person’s history is far more intricate. I wonder if stereotypes appeared as a sort of unreliable yet necessary ‘human rings’.
This week’s guest teacher at ProDance Leeds is Nadine Freisleben. The class starts with a beautiful choice of mild techno music, bringing Berlin to my senses. We improvise across the floor, letting Nadine guide us into more specific variations which culminate in a short floor phrase. Then we practice some inversions where she takes the opportunity to introduce the idea of moving the body through shifting the pelvis. The techno beats fade out to open the space to African rhythms. Nadine explains her African roots, dancing and choreographing with local companies in Nigeria. We cross the room following her, exploring the musical and physical approaches of west African dances. Bouncing our feet, pelvis, shoulders, rip cages… the room becomes the preface for the soon coming Chapeltown Carnival.
We finish the session dancing through some repertoire from a new piece Nadine is working on. The aim of her creation is to challenge the traditional western approach to rhythm and play with the African and Arabic paradigm, as she mentions the input of her partner who is Arabic and a musician.
On my way out of class simplicity strikes me. Nadine’s history spoke to me through her dancing and her generosity. I’ve discovered on her a ring that talks of Berlin and its techno culture; a ring that shakes her body in Nigerian waves and a flourishing ring which is sniffing the potential of Arabic rhythms.
By Anna Cabré-Verdiell Bosch
-You can still catch her class Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at NSCD from 9.30 to 11.00-