One Body One Career: Two Weeks of Countertechnique & Community at Chunky Move Studios

Yesterday marked the first day of our two-week Countertechnique intensive One Body One Career. Our studios are buzzing with excitement with over 46 dancers from across the world joining us in Melbourne. This week we sat down with Anouk van Dijk and some of these dancers to have a deeper look at the origins of Countertechnique, One Body One Career and its influence on our global dance community.

“I’ve heard from past participants that they leave a different dancer, and I feel ready and excited to explore that transformation.” – Haley Barker, 2018 One Body One Career participant.

From Florida, USA to Sweden and Hong Kong and all that’s in between, the world’s dance community has arrived at Chunky Move for One Body One Career (OBOC), a two-week intensive with the aim of mastering the art of Countertechnique. As Anouk van Dijk, our Artistic Director and the mastermind behind this movement system explains, Countertechnique ‘offers an efficient language for daily use in the studio’. Designed to prepare the body for optimal mobility within a clear structure of exercises, Countertechnique enables dancers to move more fluidly and spatially, whilst becoming stronger and more flexible. Constructed over 25 years Countertechnique was inspired by a desire to develop a well-functioning practice that would help keep people fit, while offering good maintenance for the body and prepare them for performing. A key facet of the development of this movement system’s was Van Dijk’s interest in how the mind informs the body and vice versa. She says ‘How we think about movement shapes how we dance, and how we dance will be constantly processed and judged by our minds.’ Finding this balance is a challenge, but it is an important balance to find within the trajectory of a dancer’s career and it’s these ideas that form a critical part of exploration throughout the practice of Countertechnique.

But the possibilities of Countertechnique extend far beyond its technicalities, in fact ‘they’re endless’ says Van Dijk, who says that once ‘dancers know more about Countertechnique, it makes them happier about who they are, which shows in their dancing. Their performance becomes more transparent and honest’.

In 2006, Van Dijk was inspired to start OBOC in her hometown of Amsterdam and the intensive has since grown into two full weeks of what Van Dijk describes as ‘dancing, creating, exploring, thinking, discussing and fun!’ In 2018 the intensive will offer what van Dijk describes as a diversity of workshops, food for thought and a ‘inspiration to delve deeper into dancing’. Guests at this years intensive include, Nina Wollny (Master Teacher Countertechnique, Germany), Tom Koch (renowned Alexander technique Teacher, USA) and Chunky Move’s own company dancer and Countertechnique teacher Niharika Senapati to share their knowledge.

With around 30 dance artists teaching Countertechnique worldwide and OBOC now in its sixth year at Chunky Move Studios, Countertechnique, OBOC and Chunky Move have all been instrumental in connecting dance communities from all corners of the world. Samantha McLean, from Oregon has been fascinated by Countertechnique since it was introduced to her as a 17 year old. Coming to Melbourne for OBOC, she’s looking forward ‘to meeting people from all over the world’ and hopes to bring Countertechnique back to her dance community in Portland.  

“I fell in love with the technique immediately and knew that’s what I want to do in the future as well! I had a lot of fun learning about the technique.” Pei Yun Chua, – 2018 One Body One Career participant.

Verena Pircher, a 2018 OBOC participant, from Austria who hails from a dance community whose work is ordinarily ‘quite conceptual and not so physical’, says she was prompted to join OBOC so she could share her passion for Countertechnique amongst ‘Counter people’. ‘Counter people’ Pircher says are always ‘open-minded, and generous fun people’, which is becoming increasingly evident as the energy of this year’s dancers fill Chunky Move Studios.  

Community has become a defining element of both Countertechnique and OBOC alike. Emma Cosgrove who has arrived from Auckland, says her dance community at home ‘is friendly, encouraging, brave, honest and unique,’ and for her what she is looking forward to about OBOC is ‘meeting everyone and becoming friends with a new community on a journey that will be embarked on together. I am excited to explore, meet the Melbourne dance community and extend my practice as much as I can.’ Wellington based Laura Beanland-Stephens, says that her Wellington dance community ‘is small but building….  My peers and I are contributing to the growth hoping to encourage and build a more permanent, dynamic and accessible freelance community.’ Having participated in OBOC before and having had some years for the information to settle, Beanland-Stephens comes back ‘with fresh perspectives and more questions.’

I am most looking forward to being part of the community and having the opportunity to be around and work with inspiring artists on Australian soil.” Renata Cosgrove,  2018 One Body One Career participant.

But OBOC is not just about dance or mastering the art of Countertechnique, it is also a chance for adventure and to get to know Melbourne, that for many participants is a new city that offers contrasts to home. What are our Artistic Director’s suggestions for her first time visitors to Melbourne? Coffee, food and parks are personal highlights. ‘If you are a coffee drinker, coffee is an absolute Melbourne experience! Or on a sunny day, wander through the beautiful and lush Botanical Gardens, a ten-minute walk away from Chunky Move Studios’, she says.

This year One Body One Career is hosting 46 participants from countries including; Australia, New Zealand, USA, Italy, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, The UK, Austria, UK, Russia, Germany, Canada and China.

Are you an intermediate level dancer and would like an introduction to Countertechnique yourself? Our Intermediate Countertechnique six-week series starts 16 July, you can sign up here.  

Learn more about Countertechnique here.