Breathe in lots of fresh air and leave happy, refreshed, with a sense of feeling more whole
The days at Laughton Lodge are made up of yoga, dancing, making, bushcraft, cycling, jamming, eating, drinking and sleeping. They follow a structure that it is up to you to modify depending on how much you want to soak up what's on offer or take time out for yourself. As much as movement and outdoor sessions are provided, the tone is of collaboration and exchange; food is prepared, cooked and eaten together, contact improvisation sessions arise as a result of the vibe of a given evening and of the particular dancers present.
Pip Duke gives an hour-and-a-half yoga session every day. The class evolved from her experience as a dancer, teacher and practitioner, and is designed to complement the activity of dancing by calming the mind and affording a greater sense of space and ease in the body.
The emphasis is on flow and tuning in and, though physical, allows you time to unravel tension and 'stress' in the joints and ligaments in a gentle, rational way that de-clogs toxins and stimulates new cell growth. The tone is to take the work seriously, but not ourselves.
"Pip has deftly woven the strands of herself together for this class – the empathy of her life as a mother, her warmth, her humour and the awareness and creativity of her work as a professional dancer. Come. It's a rare combination and an absolute treat."
[ Louisa Thomsen Brits, journalist and author ]
Pip also gives a couple of classes that blend yoga with contemporary ballet. The objective is to use elements of yoga, contemporary and ballet to move freely and with pleasure, as opposed to grappling with an isolated technique for its own sake. The emphasis is on weight and flow, and on moving expansively. It hopes to empower you. And possibly even remind you that to move big, fast and free can feel really good.
When I was teaching at London Contemporary Dance School I came to see how many contemporary dancers struggled to find the connection between ballet and contemporary techniques and how many tried to fit into ballet like a set of clothes they considered stylish but ill-fitting.
It didn’t seem like a good use of time to feel hindered by a practice rather than helped, so I became interested in devising a class to help contemporary dancers access the flow and relevance of ballet. Drawing on my own experience and different physical practices I focused the class on a few key ideas, all of which aim to help dancers feel grounded, expansive, efficient, powerful and in command.
The class starts from a somatic place, often lying down, moves into preliminary exercises in the centre based on these ideas and then gives time to separate elements and lots of repetition before bringing the material together to cover the space at speed.
It aims to empower dancers. I hope they leave feeling confident and able. Maybe even happy.
Pip trained in classical ballet at the Royal Ballet School and went on to dance with the Bayerische Staatsoper, the former Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater and Hofesh Shechter Company in 'Cult'. She took a break from dance in 1998 to qualify as a Montessori teacher, which she enjoyed for a couple of years. She returned to the dance world, freelancing here and in America and then became a faculty member at London Contemporary Dance School. In 2004, she completed her MA in Dance Education and Training.
She currently works as a freelance teacher, specialising in contemporary ballet and guesting at various conservatoires in London and for such companies as NDT2, Hofesh Shechter Company, Rambert Dance Company, DV8, Scottish Dance Theatre, Lost Dog, Bern Ballett and Norrdans. Pip is also a coach for circus performers and teaches yoga to dancers and mums alike.
From an instinctive approach to movement, we will search for a personal way of moving, learning to switch off the self-judging voice in our brain and instead honestly tune in with our emotion and body. Don’t think of it as a dance class, but more as a way to create or improvise movement from a free-feeling mindset. I'd love to share with you some ways I have found to cut out 'caring' what others think of us and learn some from you. I'd also like to look at ways to connect deeply with how we feel within a performance structure and to be more than ok with it.
Phil was born in Bolivia, South America, to British parents in 1985. He lived there until the age of 10 when he moved back to London with his family. He trained in gymnastics from age 4 to 13, competing at national level, but then developed a passion for the world of extreme sports and thrill-seeking in his teens. Throughout his life, Phil has danced for fun, but on turning 18 an instinct or a voice within him led him to explore dance further. So he auditioned for schools, got in, met a man called Hofesh Shechter and a woman called Helen Shute and owes them both his career!
Since February 2016, Phil has been a freelance movement artist. He refers to himself as a movement artist because he includes the fields of physical theatre, acting, motion capture, parkour and fitness training as well as dance! 'I'm ambitious, but with a head on my shoulders and a beautiful family holding it up! I love movement done well, with heart and honesty.'
For more info, please visit Phil's website www.philhulford.com
Ruby is an experienced teacher and maker who runs workshops in woodland settings, making baskets from foraged materials. She's inspired by supporting people to experience the whole cycle of production: harvesting/gathering natural materials in a sustainable way, processing them and finally creating a useful and beautiful object. It's an empowering opportunity to learn and develop practical, life-long skills.
'Connecting with the natural world can deeply nourish and rejuvenate us. Taking time out of our daily lives to be creative in the woods round a fire, with birdsong, wild plants, creatures, dappled sunlight and like-minded people is a wonderful way to find a sense of space and connection…to ourselves, each other, and to the web of life itself.'
Ruby spends two afternoons taking you through the woods surrounding the Lodge to identify and source natural materials. She then guides you in the art of making natural cordage or a small basket.
For more info, please visit Native Hands website www.nativehands.co.uk
Lewis trained and completed his BA (hons) 1st degree at London Contemporary Dance School. Since graduating in 2009 he has danced with companies and choreographers including; Scottish Dance Theatre, Tom Dale Company, TrashDollys, Jean Abreu Dance, John Ross Dance, James Wilton Dance, Léa Tirabasso, and Riccardo Buscarini. He also recently performed at The National Theatre in Angels in America, directed by Marianne Elliot. Lewis often leads workshops in the UK and abroad, and regularly teaches at London Contemporary Dance School, Rambert School, TripSpace, and for several of the professional companies with whom he has previously danced.
Lewis will lead a contact improvisation based workshop looking at technical partnering skills, and exploring how we might integrate these into our practice of jamming. We will take time to listen through touch and explore weight exchange and support using traditional principles and techniques from contact improvisation and martial arts. This tuning in will serve to enrich our physical communication, resulting in clearer understanding of the intention, direction and energy of the other bodies we encounter in the space. Time will also be given to playing around with inversions and exit options in preparation for the more acrobatic moments. Through improvisational scores we shall then investigate opportunities to find liberation from the form of pure technique and existing patterns into dancing that is more personal, spontaneous, intuitive, and exciting.