Ontology: a branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being
Dance is the prime driving force in my life. I have been dancing for almost my whole life, at times immersing myself completely in learning and performing, at other times grabbing small windows and opportunities around a business career and motherhood. This inner motivation to dance is shared by many dancers in different ways, but for me it has been an enduring and energising way of making sense of the world and my unfolding in it.
My performing history is a long one, starting out in my late teens as a modern jazz dancer with my own company in the North East of Scotland, evolving later into a meaningful and long lasting involvement with contemporary dance. Training and performing were always side by side and my route was informal and unconventional, studying in London, Leeds, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
In 1993 I began to study Cunningham based technique with teacher and choreographer Steinvor Palsson and this led to a twenty year friendship and creative working relationship which allowed me the opportunity to perform and interpret her wonderful work, created in a spirit of care and collaboration. I will never forget the solos of Eleanor Rigby or Blow the Wind Southerly, the moving and powerful storytelling of Holodomor, beautifully and painstakingly choreographed to original piano composition by Dymtro Morykit, and to the many other stories we told together and with others.
In 2009 I completed an MSc in dance science at Trinity Laban, and went on to work with colleagues at Trinity Laban and University of Exeter, gaining valuable experience in qualitative research techniques on a number of creativity based projects. As an associate researcher with the Graduate School of Education at University of Exeter, I have worked closely with Dr Kerry Chappell and Professor Anna Craft (deceased Aug 2014) to investigate the humanising and wellbeing possibilities of working in communal and collaborative creative settings, and to act as a critical friend to the WM|RD R-research and education teams as they developed a creativity resource for schools. (see links page)
In August 2013 I graduated as a Body Mind Centering (BMC®) somatic movement educator after completing two years of training with Embody Move in the UK (teachers Katy Dymoke and Jens Johanssen and many others who assisted them) and SOMA in France. This was the culmination of a 10-year journey in somatic practice beginning with Barbera Mahler and her teaching of Klein Technique, the place where I first truly found my feet and understood the value of grounding, and continued through Yoga, Continuum, Butoh and Feldenkrais.
All these practices shaped and inspired me but it was only in BMC that I found a true embodiment that went beyond the confines of technique and offered a wisdom fully grounded in the anatomy of my own body in relation to the environment around me: the physical forces which act on all of us and the relationships we have with each other and all living things.
This training in both science and somatic understanding and deep study of creativity has shaped my current direction of finding ways to offer more embodied knowledge to movers, dancers and teachers, and to set up participatory projects which facilitate shared creative exploration and discovery. And of course to continue to dance and perform, giving form to my own expression and how that might communicate to others.
This very personal experience of a dancing life goes part way to explain my current direction, but additionally important is the motivation which emerged through the experience of mothering two daughters, both trained dancers. Observing them, and their friends, navigate different professional training environments (ballet, jazz and contemporary) and witnessing at very close quarters their evolving/dissolving relationships to dance made me realise that much more could be done to ensure these early experiences are as positive as possible. It also stimulated my curiosity to learn more about what is really important when nurturing talented dancers even those who, for whatever reason, do not continue on this career path.
And why the yet project? Because this nurture of creativity, this ongoing journey of embodiment, it can begin at any point…any age or stage… you embody transformation
Still image of Debbie Watson, by Sabine Klaus taken from the film of Hologram, choreographed by Laura Steckler