back to interviews
main page/topics
Samantha Emanuel
at "perlatentia's"
in Hanover
It’s Saturday, September 25th 2010. I’m on my way to the dance studio “movenyo”, because the British dancer Samantha Emanuel is going to be teaching workshops there. The tribe perlatentia has invited her to Hanover to give workshops and teach her art. I’m very curious and excited
I meet Samantha for the first time in the changing room, introduce myself and ask her, if I may be a fly on the wall at her work shops. I would like to watch her giving classes. And I wish to interview her (as well as perlatentia). She looks at me with her smart blueish grey eyes, she welcomes me warmly and says “okay”. Samantha is from England, from the County of Devon to be exact, that’s in the Southwest of the island. During the next two days I get to know her genuine British ways and start to love them: Warm hearted, charming, a little reserved and full of typical British humour of the kind I prefer most.
There were four workshops over the weekend: “Elementals: An Introduction”, “Combinations for Improvisation”, “Creative Finger Cymbal Compositions”, and “Tribal Fusion Choreography”. At all these workshops I had the opportunity to watch Samantha and her students. I joined the cymbal course to get an impression what it’s like to be a student myself.
by Konstanze Winkler
The workshops weren’t building up on each other in terms of content, but some of the previously learned basic techniques were useful for the following classes. There was also a slightly progression in terms of difficulty from one course to the next. We started off with the workshop “Elementals: An Introduction”. This was meant to get our bodies going with basic dance techniques and exercises of coordination, since some of these were also useful for the next step: “Combinations for Improvisation”. The class “Creative Finger Cymbal Compositions“ was totally different. Here we tried to repeat several rhythms that Sam played with us, at first without music or dancing. Then the dancing was added bit by bit. Finally we were able to dance the three short but challenging cymbal combinations that Samantha taught us. The final class was a choreography workshop. Sam showed her students an expressive „Octopus Dance“. Altogether the workshop contents and their arrangement were quite sensible
Samantha, I watched your work with your students here in Hanover. Your instructions are very professional. For instance you split the material into small units, which are much easier to learn, and then put them back together again. You are also very attentive with your students and make sure that everybody is getting along. You are highly focused, and always in the “here and now” with your attention. Where did you learn to teach that way?

I think the fact I am primarily self taught helps a lot. I consider myself a student of this dance form and so I teach in the way that I would want to learn. I dont want people to come away from a workshop feeling they were out of their depth or wasted their time in any way so try to accomodate the different skill levels as best I can. I love teaching, it’s very rewarding. I take as many workshops with as many different dance teachers as I can myself and develop my own teaching based on what I feel works for students, I think that is very important for teachers to stay on the level and remain accessible in their instruction. I am just myself when I teach.

In Hanover you taught among others a very expressive “Octopus” choreography. Everybody was quite enthusiastic about it. How did you develop this choreography?

I watch a lot of David Attenborough nature documentaries! I love to watch the Octopus glide through the water and I am a big fan of diving, I believe being under the water is the closest we come to flying. Water is a big recurring theme for me, seeing Tribal Fusion for the first time in 2005 I felt like I was watching dancers under water: their movements were so fluid. I fell in love. So the piece comes from all of those influence, I plan to develop the concept with new work.

Not long ago, you took acting lessons. How did this influence your dancing?

I took a course called the Moving Body at London International School of Performing Arts and also a clowning workshop at Circomedia in Bristol.

It was one of the hardest things I have done but also one of the most valuable. I have never done any acting or singing and suffer from terrible nerves if I have to use my voice in a public setting other than teaching so I embraced some pretty big fears and discovered my inner folly.

The courses not only broadened my horizons in terms of performance but really developed teaching skills too, giving me a very different outlook on movement.

You were on tour with Miles Copeland’s Bellydance Superstars, why did you quit?

I toured for 3 years and really appreciate the experience. I learned so much and made great friends, some of whom I still work with now.

As I am married the 3 month at a time tours away from home put too much pressure on relationships and responsibilities at home. I am really lucky to have had the opportunity and look forward to seeing the new show when it comes to Europe. I manage my own schedule for workshops and shows now and really enjoy the freedom that brings me. I can collaborate with friends and explore more artistic possibilities with them and solo too.

Where will your personal tour as an artist lead you?
What will be your next stop?

I just returned from San Francisco collaborating with Zoe Jakes and Elizabeth Strong. We produced a show to live music with Dan Cantrell and had shadow puppetry as part of the show too. It was so much fun and I look forward to more of the same when our schedules allow.

I am still focussed on solo works as that is a big part of my workshop weekends all over the world but this year will see further collaborative work which is where my sights are set as I prefer to work with people. That is what I miss most about not touring with BDSS: Training and performing with the girls.

I think I am going to be in Germany rather frequently as I am working with Sharon Kihara and Horacio and Beata Cifuentes in Berlin.

forward to the interview with perlatentia...
Homepage Samantha Emanuel:
I am a big believer in cross training and see Theatre as part of that. If we want to get up on stage and expect people to want to watch us then Theatre skills are a important, even though it’s a really scary prospect for those of us with no experience of it and low self confidence, we can really benefit from giving it a go.
Photos © 1-3 Konstanze Winkler, 4-7 by courtesy of Samantha Emanuel