Experiential Learning for the 21st Century: The Somatics of Singing Practice

20 June 2019


Venue: Open School East, Adult Education Centre, 1-3 Hawley Square, CT9 1PF Margate, Kent

Organiser: Marianne Dissard with Looping the Loop and Theatre Network Thanet's FLEX

Marianne Dissard is a French-born singer and performer from Tucson, Arizona, now living in Ramsgate. Her first book, 'Not Me', a memoir of trauma and the life of a touring musician, will be published in October 2019. It was adapted and performed with Megan Garrett-Jones at Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate in September 2018. Marianne has taught yin and vinyasa yoga in Paris—and Ramsgate—, and has collaborated with choreographers and musicians in the States and throughout Europe. Her vocal training—the school of hard knocks—initially consisted of throwing herself on a stage and not leaving it—and the recording studio—for ten years of international touring and album releases. Looking to expand what her voice was capable of but not finding the right teacher to accompany her quest, she began to sing daily, to herself, without professional guidance until, in 2018, she met and started training with NYC-based vocal teacher Robert Sussuma whose "strategies for 'unexpected learning'", relying on non-linear, experiential learning, made a world of difference in her enjoyment of—and creative expression through—singing.

This ninety-minute introductory workshop, based on the facilitator’s ongoing training with NYC vocal teacher Robert Sussuma (vocallearningsystems.com), will explore vocal learning from the 21st century perspective of sensory awareness. There will be NO lip trills and NO rag dolls warm-ups. The workshop is an attempt to introduce you to experiential, somatics - and Feldenkrais-based, vocal education. It aims to provide lifelong tools for self-learning (applicable to any artistic practice) through the concepts of variations and ‘unexpected learning’. We all use our voices. Most of us don’t really understand or even ever think about what’s going on ‘down there’ or the actual interactions between all the related parts of our sound-producing ‘system’, from toes to top of the spine. This free workshop is therefore open to all, from complete novices to voice professionals alike. No special equipment or clothing required.The self-awareness workshop begins with you setting a reference for yourself (by singing or speaking a short phrase of your own choosing, as privately as the space will allow—this is not a performance nor a talent show). We will then proceed to gather sensory information about your own vocal apparatus, allowing us to look at how we tend to think (and imagine) the different parts of our own voice (you’ll be surprised by the exploration). Through Feldenkrais-styled experiential learning (consisting of small, barely perceptible and sometimes purely imagined movements), with playfulness essential (as per neurological science) to the process, we will explore the art of self-sensing. The workshop ends with a return to the initial reference ‘phrase’, at which point participants can sense for themselves (again, this is not a performance to be assessed by either teacher or other participants) what may have, often in very unexpected ways, shifted. This deeply personal, subjective and sensory exploration of our own selves brings a new—and lasting—ease and joy in our own voice. With surprising and more exciting options available to us as singers, actors, and speakers, we gain a more stable and lasting self-confidence in our own, unique and deeply personal artistic choices.For further information, please look for introductory videos and a complete series of online workshops, as well as one-on-one training, from Robert Sussuma’s Vocal Learning Systems. He’s the real deal. https://vocallearningsystems.com/. Looping the Loop is a festival of live arts in the three towns of Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs in Thanet on the East Kent coast. Theatre Network Thanet is a monthly meet up for locally-based actors, artists, directors, writers, producers and theatre-makers. FLEX is run by Looping the Loop and is a free weekly skills- and resources-sharing opportunity for practitioners of all creative fields to come and explore and learn from each other, test out ideas, keeping our creativity sparked and honing your skills. Professional and aspiring performance practitioners, artists interested in performance and any/all theatre types are invited to join. OSE Open School East is a space for artistic learning and production that is experimental, versatile and highly collaborative. We run two mutually reinforcing strands: - A free study programme for emerging artists; - A multifaceted programme of events, activities and training open to all. Central to Open School East’s approach is a commitment to foster cultural, intellectual and social exchanges between artists and the broader public. We do this by opening our study programme outwards, responding to our locality and providing an informal environment for the sharing of knowledge and skills across various communities – artistic, local and otherwise. Open School East was originally founded in 2013 in East London, in response to spiralling tuition fees and student debt, and the decrease in both studio provision and civic spaces in the capital. From 2013 to 2016, Open School East operated from the Rose Lipman Building, a former library and community centre in De Beauvoir Town, East London. In 2017, we relocated to the coastal town of Margate in Kent, where we will contribute to the town’s cultural vitality and open up creative opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. We are located on the ground floor of the Pettman building, below Resort Studios, in Cliftonville. http://www.openschooleast.org