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Amanda Benn : intuition and form

Amanda Benn (choreographer/performer)

Jacqueline Powell (interpreter), Teisha Lockhart (pre-CM prep)


Amanda Benn


Drafts of two dances with pre-chosen music and basic costumes: a duet with the choreographer dancing and choreographing, driven by the music and inspired by spirit of the movie “Sarafina”.


  • Big vision: to eventually create a full production from the inspirations.

  • Immediate desires: to create dance that has a clear message; learn more choreographers’ skills.


  • How do I show emotion within my choreography?

  • What do you see and feel when you watch us dance?


  • Not to be led by the strong music; use it as a partner to the dance.

  • How to work with two dancers who have different movement training: adapting movement ideas for dancers with different training and motivations.

  • How to work in a process where the choreographer is also a dancer.

Development/skill building:

  • Creating duets with unison and also with two individuals dancing together in shared experiences. (not matching).

  • Identifying fundamental elements of dance

  • Learned about counterpoint re: timing, dynamics, and interactions, and relationship to music.

  • Practised unlocking deeply known/felt movement impulses, then transforming them to support the dance being created.

  • Deepening understandings that a movement pattern has essential elements that are what give it it’s feeling/quality/meaning.

  • Realizing what those essential things are makes it possible to keep the essence of the dance, so the external patterns can develop for individual dancers and/or different sections of the dance.

  • Choreographer’s job and tasks are different from the dancer/interpreters’ job and tasks.

  • Close eyes and watch the dance in your memory

Strategies used (some):

  • Dance existing material for mentor/creation assistant. Ask specific questions for feedback.

  • Record improvisation. View to identify fundamental elements, qualities that make the movement expressive. View to identify the movements that form the action. View to notice the shared and different interpretations of the dancers.

  • ”View” all the above in your “mind’s eye” (visual/visceral memory)

  • Focus on ways to deepen the dance material as the main expressive medium.

  • Experiment without music (the movement has music of its own.).

  • Let go of decisions on details and dance wildly within the form.

  • Forget about the piece, set a timeframe (e.g. 30mins.) and dance within and without of your genre, together and for the pure pleasure of it.

  • Make decisions #1: Try something. Keep what you like. Discard what you don’t like.

  • Make decisions #2: Keep what works. Discard what doesn’t work (even if you like it).

  • Sometimes share inner thoughts with other artists, sometimes keep thoughts to oneself and sort out internally.

To practice:

  • Bridging what I want (1), what I have (2), and what I’ve learnt (3), and creating within the non-simultaneous evolution of the three.

Next steps:

  • Continue to dance.

  • Continue to learn composition techniques.

Always use the techniques to serve the spirit of the dance (never vice versa).


AMANDA BENN (Ms.Benn) (2016) is a Montreal dance artist, teacher, radio host and community facilitator in the African-Quebecois community. Ensembles she is associated with include Kalabante (Guinean dance) Ensemble, WestCan Folk Performing Company, and Southshore Dance Ensemble, performing in Canada and the Caribbean. She is dedicated to dance and music being entries into our humanity.

JACQUELINE POWELL (2016 from Montreal), former award winning rhythmic gymnast from Questo RG Club in Montreal, QC, and 2nd level gymnastic provincial coach. In 2014, Jacqueline received the Coach of NDG-CDN borough award. Recently she has been also been training in Afro Jazz, Afro Carribbean and NuD Janm Haitian folklore, studying under Amanda Benn, Jenny Brizard and Kay Thellot.

TEISHA LOCKHART (early collaborator) has a minor in theatre from York University. She also has a graduate degree from Queen’s University for Education, concentration on Theatre. She spent many years as a member of B’current which is a Toronto based company that supports young people in the arts and theatre. Teisha wrote and performed, “Rwanda” which was a political piece that was showcased at the Canadian Playwright Festival. Teisha was also featured in a film called “In the Wake of Sleep,” that was featured in York University Film Debut. She also played multiple roles in the play called, “Color Coated Lullabies” that was a long standing show featured at Glendon Theatre.

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