Lauren Anderson en France
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A Report on Lauren Anderson’s Trip to France
At the Dulcie September School, Lauren taught a group of ten-to-eleven year olds already involved with an OUTREACH programme called Dance at School and with an Artistic Discovery Workshop led by Nathalie Rousselle and Nadia Chessebeuf. The latter teach classical and contemporary dance respectively, at the Grigny Conservatoire.
Madame Maginot, the schoolmistress, observed that since the Dance at School programme was launched in September 2013, bullying and hectoring amongst the children had virtually ceased, they had begun to play as a team, make friends and have fun cooperating.
Later in the day at Grigny, Lauren taught a workshop for adolescents and older beginners, and one for adult amateurs at the Halle Sportive & Culturelle Jean-Louis Henry. Immediately thereafter a permanent plaque at the entrance celebrating Lauren’s visit was unveiled by Philippe Rio, Mayor of Grigny, and the dance studio was renamed in Lauren’s honour as well, as parents, teachers and children crowded round.
In the evening, Lauren gave a talk in the Point Information Jeunesse auditorium, attended by a large group of parents and children, by the Conservatory’s Director Edgar Solmi, a true evangelist for the performing arts, and by the Mayor. A buffet supper was then arranged for all participants.
On display in the Grigny schools was the aforesaid exhibition of photographs.
Rambouillet is an old and exceptionally beautiful town about an hour’s train-ride from Paris with extraordinary walks, and its Conservatoire is housed is an 18th Century building within a park.
The Conservatoire’s student body here is very mixed – there are vocational students who come in specially to work with Claire Feranne van Dyk, the widow of the great German dancer Peter van Dyk, as well as amateurs at all levels.
It was a marvellous thing to see Lauren teaching the Initiation Class for children aged 7 to 9 with little experience of ballet. From the first instant, the stress she places on inner discipline – playful, but strict nonetheless – which extends even to how street shoes are to be taken off and lined up against the wall, allows the children to focus on learning rather than mooning about as they fritter away precious moments. Lauren has thought up effective ways of getting the children to make eye-contact and learn to move as one. Worthwhile, not only for those who will one day be corps de ballet …
In the late afternoon, Lauren taught a smaller group of intermediate-to-advanced Conservatory students (including two or three vocational ones) ranging in age from 22 to about 16. Here, the accent was on the fundamentals of technique and understanding the Why and Wherefore of exercises at the barre and in the centre.
At the invitation of Elisabeth Rémy-Schwartz, Inspector of Dance for the Conservatoires of the City of Paris, Lauren taught a three-hour class to a group of Conservatoire teachers. Mme. Rémy-Schwartz had been a student of Cecchetti’s disciple Margaret Craske in the 1970s before becoming a contemporary dancer of the school of Isadora Duncan, and there was much to discuss.
Later in the day, Lauren was received by the Mayor of the Fourth Arrondissement, Christophe Girard. For many years, Monsieur Girard headed the Paris Town Hall’s Cultural Department, and he continues to nourish a keen interest in both the visual and the performing arts.
At the Boulogne-Billancourt Conservatoire de rayonnement regional, the Director of Dance is Dominique Franchetti, daughter to the celebrated teacher Raymond Franchetti – and Franchetti himself, was a pupil of the great Gustave Ricaux. In this vocational school, Lauren taught three groups aged from twelve to eighteen years of age, ending with those who will next year be in Junior Companies or auditioning. Thanks in particular to professor Nadine Praddaude, many of the Conservatoire’s staff members including teachers of jazz and contemporary dance, came, saw and were conquered by Lauren’s ability to get the students to move – and her eagle-eye for fixing any flaw.
As Lauren left France on March 22nd, we learnt that the National Museum of African American History and Culture, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution due to open in November 2015 at Washington, D.C. will feature Lauren’s career in the permanent exhibition devoted to the classical arts.
Lauren’s trip to France was covered by the monthly Amina (double-page feature), and on the Websites Resmusica and Danses avec la Plume; articles also appeared in the daily newspaper Le Républicain lorrain and in the Boulogne Billancourt magazines Cultures and BBI, as well as on the website DanseTrack in the USA, and on several French Websites.