Kate Lawrence reports on the 1st VDF Workshop, in Croatia, with Histeria Nova

VDF Workshop Croatia 2016This three-day workshop was the first vertical dance workshop in Croatia and also the first VDF (Vertical Dance Forum) workshop. It was very exciting and quite unique as it was a workshop conducted entirely outdoors, in a mountain location. VDF held its second meeting in Paklenica, Croatia in November 2015, and it was at this meeting that the workshop was planned, to coincide with Histeria Nova’s project in the park, which included a performance and a film screening (“Histeria Nova Gates of Velebit VD Program – Paklenica 2016“). The vertical dance events were programmed as part of the Big Wall Speed Climbing Festival, which took place on 29th April – 1st May.

VDF Workshop Croatia 2016Participants: there were 6 participants, 5 from Croatia and 1 from Northern Ireland.

Workshop leaders: Kate Lawrence was assisted by Despina Goula (both from Wales-based Vertical Dance Kate Lawrence). Our host was Marija Šćekić from Histeria Nova. They were assisted by the riggers Mario Pinjuh, Josip Diklić (HGSS members).


VDF Workshop Croatia 2016Day 1: 28 April, 2016, Paklenica National Park: “The location for the 1st workshop was the canyon in Paklenica National Park. We held the shorter first workshop in the Park to introduce basic skills bfore moving to another location on days 2 and 3. On arrival in the park, Despina led a warm-up on the ground whilst I tested the ropes rigged by Josip and Mario to judge what movement was possible.  This was necessary for each rope as a rock face is not flat, it is much more 3-dimensional and this dictates what movement is safe.

We began with technical explanations before working just above the ground.  We found balance and stillness in standing and sitting positions on the rock and worked on alignment.  Then we worked in partners with one person in the air and one on the ground, exploring more dynamic movement with assistance from the ground partner.  We then ascended the ropes and practiced the movements at a greater height, without assistance.”

VDF Workshop Croatia 2016Day 2: 29 April 2016, Vaganac: “We all drove up to the location on a narrow and winding mountain road.  From there we walked to the location of the workshop, approximately 15 minutes on a small path, providing a perfect cardio warmup and introducing us to the wonderfully peaceful location.  Our location was two rock faces facing each other, one approximately 20 metres high, the other approximately 30 metres high.  We danced on the shorter rock face in the morning. What was particularly interesting about this situation was the potential to control the lateral swing very easily so it was possible to play with rhythm and timing more that on a flat wall.

Then Josip and Mario supervised all the participants in an abseil from the ledge.  In order to get to the ledge it was necessary to ascend by climbing the rock clipped into a fixed via ferrata line.  Everyone felt much more confident in the mountain environment and with their equipment after this exercise.

In the afternoon we danced on the higher rock face.  This was slabby, but a lot smoother and it was possible to explore a much wider lateral swing. This situation also generated some lovely partnering explorations.”

Day 3: 30 April 2016, Vaganac: “On day 3 we went back to Vaganac, but to a further location we had discovered on the first day recce. The dancing rock surface was very complex and very three-dimensional which was a little disorientating but very exciting to work with.  We also revisited some of the movement from the first day and introduced some rotations, in a much more challenging and invigorating environment.

The views from Vaganac were amazing, the participants worked really well together and achieved a lot and we all felt incredibly safe under the watchful eyes of Josip and Mario.  A wonderful and inspiring experience in a stunning environment.”

More pictures on Histeria Nova’s website

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