The Presence of Mind in Motion

The Presence of Mind in Motion

Helen Walkley/photo Chris Randle

A training intensive directed by Helen Walkley
March, May, August 2018
Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie St, Vancouver

Deadline for expressions of interest: December 1, 2017

This intensive workshop is an exceptional opportunity to dive deep into a somatic approach to training and creative process under the expert guidance of Helen Walkley. Participants will work together over an extended period of time, in an environment supporting in-depth exploration, training, rehearsal and collaboration. The workshop will create a significant impact on the participants’ dancing and collaborative processes, developing their skill sets as well as providing insight into their own creative processes.

The Bartenieff Movement Fundamentals, the developmental movement patterns and Laban Studies are the basis of the work.

The intensive is intended for professional dance artists and pre-professional dancers in their final years of training, both performers and creators; and for artists from other disciplines who have a strong relationship to movement in their work. Participants must demonstrate interest and curiosity about somatic processes but prior knowledge/experience in somatics is not required.

Phase 1: Groundwork (23 hours)

Tuesdays March 6, 13, 20 and 27: 10am - 12 noon

This training integrates and coordinates the body in motion and refines the connection between the mind and the body. The tools include:

  • hands-on guidance
  • facilitated exploration of the principles of moving in your body
  • the practice of specific forms which elicit a grounded and dynamic alignment

As an awareness of habitual patterns surface, new options arise. Fluidity and ease penetrate your movement and presence.

Thursdays March 8, 15, 22, 29 + Tuesday April 3: 9.15am - 12.15pm

The Thursdays will embody a theoretic and experiential introduction to Laban Movement Studies, originated by Rudolf Laban. We will explore:

  • qualitative changes in movement arising from inner intention, Effort 
  • patterns in which the body occupy Space
  • the body’s changing Shape in space

April 3, the final Tuesday, is an opportunity for participants to offer a short presentation of the application of the material to their personal creative process.

Phase 2: Sourcing (16 hours)

Tuesdays + Thursdays May 1, 3, 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, 24: 10am - 12 noon

Sourcing from the groundwork we will integrate and mobilize the whole body from the earth into the air. The process will include set movement material as well as exploring the physicality engendered in your own movement. The emphasis is on the light release of the skeleton, the sinuous vitality of the musculature and the emotive support of the organs.

We will mine our dynamic range and create moving maps in space. We will witness and embrace the moment with our breath and the presence of our minds.

Phase 3: Composing in the Moment (32 hours)

Monday-Thursday August 13, 14, 15, 16 + Monday - Wednesday August 20, 21, 22: 10am - 2pm
Thursday August 23: 2pm - 6pm
(culminates in an informal studio showing)

We will continue to delve into physical integration, phrasing, spatial definition and presence to refine our expressive potential. Through collaborative conversation and group process we will sculpt scoring and a chronology for the studio showing. The composition of the group will inform how our direction develops.

Embodied presence and how to focus attention in a performance space will be at the forefront of our process. The Presence of Mind in Motion is a chance to practice as a creator and a performer.

“We can begin any exploration from a conceptual framework and discover its inherent origins through creative awakening. Or, conversely, we can begin any exploration from the roots of our unknowing and discover the pattern as it manifests in expressed form. It is the dialogue and weave between the two that creates the full fabric or our individual, creative and cognizant self.”  Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Sensing, Feeling and Action


Fee: $850 + GST
Payment in installments can be arranged. CADA members may receive up to 50% reimbursement through the CADA Training Subsidy Program.

Please submit an expression of interest to by 5pm on December 1 including:

- A brief summary of why you would like to take part
- A 250-word summary (maximum) of your previous training, performance and improvisation/creation experience
- A link to a sample of your work on video (eg vimeo or youtube)


Helen Walkley is a contemporary dance artist based in Vancouver, BC who has also lived and worked extensively in the Netherlands, Germany and the US. Her performing has traversed the New York Improvisation Festival and Dance Theater Workshop/NYC, the American Dance Festival, On the Boards/Seattle, Danceworks/Toronto, the DOTE Festival and The Dance Centre/Vancouver, Tangente/Montreal, La Rotonde/Quebec City, New Dance Horizons/Regina, Dancers Studio West/Calgary, Danslab/Amsterdam and the Tanzfabrik/Berlin.

Helen is a certified Laban Movement Analyst and somatic movement educator, and holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies from SFU. She has taught at Simon Fraser University, the University of Calgary, Virginia Commonwealth University, Concordia and the Laban Institute for Movement Studies/NYC.  She was on faculty at the School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam from 1991-94 and the TanzFabrik in Berlin in 1989. From 1995-2000 she was a core faculty member of the Main Dance Bridging Program in Vancouver.

Helen’s improvisational mind, coupled with her certification in Laban Movement Analysis (1985) continues to inspire and influence her choreography. The Laban work is an inexhaustible medium that gives her a language to originally innovate form. Helen is an independent artist, choreographer, improviser, performer and teacher and a constant student of a myriad of somatic practices.

Artist statement

There are multiple meanings in any given moment, dependent upon the point of view of the experience. This is the pathos and beauty of our existence and can render any heart and mind tender. It is this, which compels me to create my work, and it is with this that I go out the door every morning to meet all the incidents of a single day. Everyone’s story meets— sometimes colliding and careening—in unarticulated moments as simple as being jostled on a crowded bus. This layering and cross-referencing exposes humanity and is heartbreaking and mind opening.

In this sense my work is transpersonal. My story, if you will, is everyone’s story. Through a layering and cross-referencing in my processes there is an energetic transmission through space and time in performance, and each viewer receives his/her own story. Their hearts and minds are touched in a way unique unto themselves, and there is the potential for a sharing of experience.

The Presence of Mind in Motion is supported through The Dance Centre's Artist-in-Residence program.

Photo: Chris Randle