Jan 30 2010

Week one with Brad in DC

Classes are done for this week.  I am continually awed by his eye for the big picture and his ability to listen.  I’ve spend many years looking at the details which are also important, but the big picture is what binds it all together.  His style of teaching also involves observing and listening.  While this may not seem extraordinary (of course you have to observe and listen! How else can you see what they’re doing), what perhaps is amazing is how he applies the information he receives.  What seems to me like magic, though hopefully not for long, is how he anticipates the students’ needs.  He picks up on the tiniest cues and has a most appropriate response.  Well, beyond appropriate.  He has exceptional to solutions to problems, insightful interaction with people and clever redirection of energy.  Brad practices what he preaches.  Just as Marozzo’s grappling techniques require keen listening, good structure and positioning, and a choice from the many responses available, so does Brad, in his life and his teaching, listen to people and situations, remain unshaken by new stimuli, and chose a response that best fits the situation.  If I nothing else, this week I will listen.

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Jan 27 2010

First couple days with Brad

These first days with Brad have been amazing!  I find myself asking so many questions and seeing everything in a new light.  For some things, I’m completely changing my mind about how I teach or view a principle, on others, my methods are encouraged and improved.  What is most interesting to me is how differently Brad can teach when he has a class for several hours per week.  He can go at the pace of his students’ curiosity, which can lead to better learning as new ideas and techniques are discoveries rather than instructions.  Students have more ownership over the material, and are less likely to forget.  This is not to say that other methods aren’t useful.  On the contrary, in a rehearsal situation, speedy instruction is often the best (or only) option, but it’s great to see stage combat taught in such a relaxed environment.  For the purposes of my grant, I’ll have to look at the methods that Brad uses and see how I can apply them to the steeper learning curve of rehearsal.

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Jan 24 2010

Scotty time!

The second part of Friday was a “fighty-fun” session with Scott Moyle. We never really have a plan, but we look at the weapon rack,


the weapons rack

see what catches our eye, and then go from there.  On Friday, we made our way through Italian and German Longsword, smallsword, backsword and the tiniest touch on rapier, addressing many techniques and concepts.  The underlying theme was how foundation principles express themselves in different weapons.  I’m really enjoying working with Scott mostly because he’s Scott and he’s fun and awesome, but a close second is the varied and detailed conversations we have.  He’s asking fabulous questions which help us to get to the root of the idea, to help us better understand the similarities and differences between various weapons styles and forms.

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Jan 24 2010

a big day on Friday

I had a rather full day on Friday. It began with a meeting and brainstorm session with Jenny Salisbury, then playtime with Scott Moyle, and then watching Such Creatures at Theatre Passe Muraille. It was a great day for the project. We came up with some answers, like more exercises for the experimentation period, and came up with many more questions which are helping to more specifically determine what we’re going to address during the 18-week experimentation period.

My time with Jenny began as an interview where I asked her about her impressions of fight scenes.  Not surprisingly, she had a lot of the same frustrations that Emily did (not surprising because they seem to be the same frustrations we all have when watching or directing fights).  More interesting, though, is that Jenny had very different solutions for addressing these problems.  As Matt was home, we got some of these ideas on their feet immediately, using a fight we had choreographed and performed last summer.  The different nuances exposed during this work were quite striking, and one thing became very clear: this kind of work requires that the performers know and be confident with the choreography, their own bodies and their partner.  In fact, I might be so bold as to say that this work would be very difficult, if not almost impossible, with people who have any fear of their use of the weapon and the movement.  The exploration can’t quite happen until you’re “off book” with your actions and technique.  It’s a bit like a road trip: if you’re thinking a lot about how to drive the car, you’ll still get from point A to point B, but you won’t have the mental space to enjoy the scenery or to have a decent conversation on the way.

I’m very excited about future sessions with Jenny.  Our plans include exploring movement systems, and looking at various learning styles

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