NSCAD students on the move

NSCAD students are fairly comfortable using tools, whether it’s a stick of charcoal, paintbrush or a camera.

But ask them to use their body for a tool, and you might have to provide some encouragement.

That’s Veronique MacKenzie’s job. She teaches the Foundation Movement Art class, which is possible through a partnership with Halifax Dance. The class, held at a Halifax Dance studio in the Maritime Centre, is back among NSCAD’s Foundation offerings after a few years’ absence.

On a recent Thursday morning, students shake their bodies out of slumber with a physical warm-up followed by an abstract exploration of time and space.

“I want you to fill the vessel and pour out the vessel as you move your way across the floor,” instructs Veronique, as she demonstrates, shifting her weight fluidly and gracefully across the studio floor. “Like honey melting into the floor,” she explains further as her movements take her further away from the students. “Honey that’s slightly melted and gooey.”

A movement class for art students isn’t the stretch you might think it to be. It’s sculpture making using the body, and like other forms of visual art, relies on a series of marks to produce lines that the “we can produce at will.” Visual expression, after all, is a physical process, whether drawing at an easel, screen printing by pulling ink over a screen or presenting performance art in front of an audience. The vocabulary of creative movement and the principles of composition learned in Foundation Movement Art are transferable to other applications.

For their final assignment, students are expected to plan and produce a performance piece.

“It’s getting students to feel more comfortable in their bodies so when they move they can trust themselves more,” says Veronique. “They can apply this knowledge and intuitive learning into what they’ve been practicing in their studio.”

A painter, choreographer, dancer and director, Veronique is a 2009 recipient of Nova Scotia’s prestigious Established Artist Award.  She loves collaborating and recently worked on the project Motion Activated with visual artist Susan Tooke and musician/composer Lukas Pearse. One of her paintings of a dancer hangs in the lobby of Halifax Dance.

As part of NSCAD and Halifax Dance’s partnership, Halifax Dance is offering NSCAD students, faculty and staff a 20 per cent discount on all dance classes starting in 2014. Please drop into Halifax Dance, 1505 Barrington Street in the Maritime Centre, and show your NSCAD ID card. Call 422-2006 or check out the website at www.hfxdance.ca for more information.