A look back on One Body One Career with Nina Wollney

It has been two big weeks in the studios as we’ve hosted One Body One Career 2018!  With dancers from across the globe joining us for this Countertechnique intensive we took a moment to reflect. 

Coming all the way from Amsterdam to lead classes, we spoke to ‘Master – Countertechnique Teacher’ and artist, Nina Wollney to reflect on her experiences this year alongside her  journey and professional development with Countertechnique. 

You have taught at every One Body One Career since it began, what is it about this two-week intensive you enjoy most and how has it grown over time? 

It is great to have this much time to work on something you are very passionate about, with other people who are passionate about the same thing and with dancers who are already passionate or really curious about it. I love to be a nerd about things and share my findings and at One Body One Career I have the chance to do that. My goal as a Countertechnique teacher is to help everybody become their own teacher. I really enjoy seeing people realize things, get empowered to be more confident and proactive in their own dancing.

In the very beginning, there were more different classes and workshops. All teachers were in some way influenced by Alexander technique and all worked with process-oriented approaches, but not everybody was a Countertechnique or Alexander Technique teacher.
Since then for the most part of the past 12 years, the focus was mainly on Countertechnique and Alexander technique. Both the Alexander technique teacher Tom Koch and the Countertechnique teachers Anouk and me and recently also Niharika have developed their teaching and workshop every year. We always evaluate and further develop what worked and learn a lot from the dancers we get to work with.

Countertechnique has much more time for theory and practical work with the information outside of the context of the actual class and Alexander technique has really developed a lot from just a workshop. To very specific workshops that are coordinated with the classes and other workshops and during the past years the dancers also get private hands-on sessions.

In the beginning, I taught different kinds of workshops alongside partnering, but now I can really focus the workshop part of my work only on partnering which has developed a lot since the beginning. It becomes more and more clear how the principles of Countertechnique can be practised and studied through the exchange with a partner more in-depth. The benefits become very apparent when communication becomes clearer, lifting lighter, flying easier and you create something together that really can only exist because you are working together.

Has there been anything in particular that stood out to you from this year’s One Body One Career, or that has been different compared to previous years? 

In some ways each year is similar. It is very intense and in the beginning hard because some of the things we work with are new and foreign for some people. But the more we work the more things start to fall into place and therefore there is usually a big relief in the end when everybody has found something for themselves to take home and research further.

But every year the dancers joining are different, making it very exciting every time again. Meeting new individuals sharing and learning from each other. The dancers come from such a varied background so basically each year is so different because of that. I find it really exciting to stay open to what ever it is the dancers bring with them.

Tell us about your relationship with Anouk and Countertechnique. When did you first meet Anouk and how has your profesional development with her and Countertechnique grown since?

My first class with Anouk was during my studies at Codarts in Rotterdam and I didn’t really like it. I was still heavily influenced by all the years of intense ballet training and I was not open yet to experience something new. I did see that she was doing things that intrigued me, but I didn’t understand yet. That same year I saw a performance of her work “Microman” and I was really fascinated. It was the first contemporary work, that I really enjoyed. It was so human and funny and personal. I really felt this was dance, that I could relate to personally.
In my last year in school, I auditioned for her company and started to work with her. First as an apprentice and then as a dancer, soon after also teaching Countertechnique. Not long after that, I became her artistic assistant and also worked as rehearsal director for several works.
I was there for the development of Countertechnique from 2001 until now, so 17 years. And I am teaching Countertechnique since 2004, so now 14 years.

When Anouk came to Australia, I joined her first work here at Chunky Move, “An Act of Now” and then started to work as a freelance dancer mainly in Europe. I still sometimes perform or tour works by Anouk, but next to that I also work with several other choreographers and I teach Countertechnique all around the world.

I got to work with Anoukvandijk DC (her company in Amsterdam) for so many years in a row at the beginning of my career and therefore got to be part of the development of the technique in a very interesting and crucial time of creating the theoretical framework we are working with now. I very much enjoy that I have this very deep knowledge about something specific. It gives me the freedom to be open and to try all kinds of new things and at the same time, I always have something to work with which I know very well.

For me, the big rule is Countertechnique should never become dogmatic. I don’t have to do anything, but I do have the choice to use my knowledge of it when I want to.

For those new to Countertechnique how would you describe it?   

In Countertechnique I have trained and learned to use my conscious thought process to move with efficiency and freedom. In my experience everything you think it does in some way influences you, it has a physical consequence and therefore influences your movement.
If you want to do a turn and you think just before you do it ‘I am so bad at turns, it’s not gonna work.’ The chance that you will do a beautiful turn is pretty small. Most
probably you will tense up and it won’t work. With Countertechnique I learned, that if I actually have a clear intention and clarity in my thoughts just before I move and while I move can use this to my advantage. This is really fascinating and fun and gives me a lot of confidence and independence in my dancing. One of the main goals of Countertechnique is that everybody can become their own teacher. So in the Countertechnique class, you will get different tasks, information or realisations to work with, we class these tools. While you dance you use these tools to bring clarity into your thought process and therefore into your movement. All this information has been collected in the Countertechnique toolbox. Every dancer who takes Countertechnique classes can collect this information, make it their own and then create their own personal toolbox and step by step become their own teacher.

What’s next for you this year? 

This week and next week I will work with Anouk educating the new aspiring Countertechnique teachers at the Countertechnique teacher training. So we have some more fun and intense weeks ahead. Afterwards I will go on my Summer break in Spain. From August 21-25 I will be teaching a Counetretchnique and Partnering workshop in Miami directly from Spain.

So only after that I will be back in Amsterdam and finally unpack my suitcase again. 

Are you an intermediate level dancer and would like an introduction to Countertechnique yourself? Our Intermediate Countertechnique series has officially started, but you can still join before 23 July.  You can sign up via Mindbody here or call us on (03) 9645 5188