What do you think is the most awaited moment in a project in which four partners from three different countries participate, after more than a year of activities carried out on Zoom? Exactly, it is the long-dreamed moment when we see each other physically for the first time, we work together, we express our thoughts, we laugh, we understand each other by exchanging looks, we search for the words that seem to be part of an universal vocabulary, we are glad to be next to each other. We feel good, as if we have known each other for a long time.
Teachers for SwanZ project, an initiative co-financed by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union is initiated and coordinated by the Choreography High School Floria Capsali in Bucharest
This was the case at the first face-to-face meeting of teachers, instructors and pupils from dance and choreography schools involved in the Teachers for SwanZ project, an initiative co-financed by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union. Groups of pupils and teachers or dance instructors from Romania, Austria and Bulgaria gathered in Bucharest, between 6th and 9th of May. The host was the project initiator and coordinator – the Choreography High School FloriaCapsali. All the partner entities in the project participated – the aforementioned high school and the Hellenic Union of Romania, the National School of Arts Prof. Vesselin Stoyanov from Russe, Bulgaria, and Attitude Studios from Vienna, Austria, a total of over 30 students and about 20 teachers.
The activities took place in different locations. The program included two distinct sessions – a training for teachers, entitled Dance4teachers, and one for students, entitled Dance4pupils. The main protagonists were teachers from the FloriaCapsali High School, invited lecturers from the dance world, dance instructors, professional trainers. But it is worth pointing out that, directly or indirectly, all the teachers’ activities were aimed at a better and modern specialized training of the students, a better communication, preparation for performing on stage, an increased capacity for empathy and dialogue, so that they are prepared in the coming years to integrate into the artistic world, to achieve performance.
Open ballet lessons were held by teachers Mihaela Vasilovici from the Floria Capsali High School, Bucharest and Laura Cristinoiu from Attitude Studios, Viena
Reviewing the moments of the four days intensive training, we have the image of a unique puzzle: dance was the predominant element, as it was natural – from the traditional one to the character dance, from ballet to contemporary dance, more precisely the types of dance that are taught and learned in the specialized schools. Open ballet lessons were held by teachers Mihaela Vasilovici from the Floria Capsali High School, who presented ballet studies for advanced level, bare and center exercises, jump techniques, as well as Laura Cristinoiu from Attitude Studios, who presented the pirouette techniques and support exercises for revs; the character dance was presented and practiced together with the teacher Mădălina Mechenici from Floria Capsali High School, a unique moment for the bulgarian colleagues, who do not teach this subject in the school program. Raluca Mălăeru, a ballet teacher at the same high school, held a ballet class with teachers who teach other subjects in dance schools and who have never practiced ballet before. With the children she made another ballet moment, on unusual music, and the students were challenged to adapt to a different musical style.
The traditional Romanian dance module was held by teachers Simona Paraschivu and Claudiu Staicu from the host high school, and contemporary dance was presented and practiced together with Simona Paraschivu. The Bulgarian team and that of the Hellenic Union of Romania were involved with great openness in the traditional dance module, practicing together a dance from Maramures, Bulgarian and Greek dances.
The well-known dancer, choreographer, cultural expert and cultural NGOs’ manager Cosmin Manolescu invited all the participants to several sessions of “rethinking the dance” and discovering new teaching strategies in this era marked by the pandemic and war. The exercises coordinated by Cosmin Manolescu took place in indoor and outdoor spaces, promoting a free, modern style, close to nature. The exercises brought together students, dance teachers and “non-dance” teachers, which led to the creation of unique dance moments, very much appreciated by the participants.
Extremely interesting and appreciated were the training sessions on topics that are connected to the dance teaching, topics that complete the puzzle and complement the training that students acquire at school. It is about training teachers on communication topics, dialogue between languages and cultures, practicing coaching skills and soft skills, so that the methods of working with children in the classroom and outside the classroom are extended and diversified, in a modern spirit.
“My gift to the world”, held by Monica Săndulescu, actress and trainer at Attitude Studios, approached through interactive exercises the techniques of knowing one’s own body, accepting and appreciating oneself
Valentin Dițulescu, trainer at the acting schoolGo! Bananas, proposed to the teachers interactive exercises focused on the topics of communication, leadership, connection between mind and body, the control of emotions, the design of games that can be used in the classroom.
Francesca Dogaru, actress, social activist, coaching trainer at the World Wilde Fund, held a module about communication, relationships with others, how to understand ourselves, the language of emotions and gestures, ending with a dance moment through which the children illustrated the topic.
An acting workshop with students and teachers, entitled My gift to the world, was held by Monica Săndulescu, actress and trainer at Attitude Studios. The topics approached through interactive exercises were knowing one’s own body, accepting and appreciating oneself, the trust that must exist betweenthepartnerswithinthe team, in class or on stage, illustratedbymoments of improvisation – owncreations of groups of twostudents.
Cătălina Lupu, trainer, proposed exercises based on the inverted teacher-student relationship, in order to debate the concept of a culture of dignity and to show how negative emotions can be overcome, how self-esteem can be cultivated. The result was a set of drawings and three dance moments,in groups of two children, who improvised and created their own choreography.
Promoting knowledge and dialogue between ethnic groups, languages and cultures, is an essential element of education for democratic citizenship
Teachers also took part in a workshop focused on promoting knowledge and dialogue between ethnic groups, languages and cultures, as an essential element of education for democratic citizenship in today’s society. Element that cannot be missing from the training of the artists who will soon dance on the world stages, in the vision of the lecturer – Rodica Precupețu, trainer in the team of the Floria Capsali High School. An example of good practice on this topic was made by the team of the Hellenic Union of Romania, who created a PPT presentation about the multicultural dimension of Ploiesti town.
If the start moment took place at the headquarters of the Hellenic Union of Romania, where Olimpia Bândea, secretary general of the organization, spoke about the activity of the hosts and a group of instructors and students presented Greek dances, the final moment took place at the National Opera in Bucharest, a prestigious institution with a history of over 100 years. At the end, it was an opportunity for all the teams, teachers and students, to express some thoughts on the four training days, and for the organizers to make an evaluation of the activity.
The teachers Mădălina Giurgescu, the principal of the Floria Capsali High School, and Diana Zăvălaș, the project manager, gathered a beautiful collection of appreciations and proposals for the future
During their stay in Bucharest, the participants visited the Palace of Parliament, with the support of MP Dragoș Gabriel Zisopol, president of the Hellenic Union of Romania, and watched three performances – one of Romanian dance, at the Children’s Palace, one of ballet at the Ion Manu Cultural Center in Otopeni and one of contemporary dance at the National Dance Center of Bucharest.
From the evaluations of the participants and the impatience with which the children are waiting to meet again at the future training sessions, which will take place in Russe, Bulgaria, we can conclude that the event in Bucharest was successful. The Teachers for SwanZ project goes further.