Blake Nellis '07
Upon entering the Theatre/Dance program, and specifically the MF curriculum, what were your initial reactions/feelings/thoughts? Upon leaving?
I entered as an injured, curious, physical musician/athlete/student. I knew nothing about it, but I knew that the time and space to evaluate and experience my physical/somatic experience was a gift. Upon leaving, I identified myself as a teacher and movement artist (dare I say “dancer”?). I felt empowered to dive head first into the world of post-modern, improvised dance. I knew that the guidance I received was authentic and rich and that I could turn that experience into whatever I needed after graduation.
What is your current career/life path?
But seriously, I am a teacher, artist, musician, composer, improviser, student and all around CI enthusiast. SO, my current path has been filled with foreign countries, diverse communities, storied performance spaces and best of all- a common language: THE BODY. I have seen the world, not as a tourist, but as a guest in the contact improvisation community. I am grateful for the path that has lead me to Minneapolis where I feel I will spend some more time teaching and developing myself as a dancer. With my near future goals being to obtain an MFA in dance in order to be a professor of dance.
How does the MF curriculum inform this career/path...how do you use MF in your day-to-day life?
That’s how I move... no need to copy Martha Graham’s style (no offense) when I already have a genetically unique series of patterns developing in my own sacred body. I breathe and enjoy the kinesthetic world around me largely because of the MF (and CI) lessons I learned at Luther. Maybe NOW I am ready (at age 26) to begin imitating other’s movements and integrating it into my own intelligent body. Maybe...
In a paragraph, how would you describe the core philosophy of the MF curriculum at Luther?
When you first learned to crawl, you were lucky. Your parents trusted you to move yourself, the way it felt best. But then what happened...? Some years later, many of us realized something wasn’t quite right. For me, it was the way in which I moved through life, wasting huge amounts of energy, ignoring pain or missing some of the greatest physical sensations I now enjoy. I’ve spent years working to re-learn and re-discover what my body might have already known. I’ve gone back to crawling and asking questions. And now I am home.
What part of the curriculum was most valuable to you?
Is there anything else you want to share?
These classes are about semantics. I know they are also about somatics, but really, it is so important what we say and how we say it. Many people may know or “understand” what this MF curriculum is all about, but that mean the application is sticking. It takes a special person and environment to nurture this complex curriculum. I know that patterns of movement can be comprehended, but to practice them... to really embody them, takes a lifetime (eg: Jane Hawley, Sophie Rog, etc.) So, I would like to say, keep spreading the word, keep informing people, keep welcoming in strangers who “don’t know how to dance” and keep dancing in this way that feels good.