Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Thinking like the Traceur

This post is by Hannah Gravestock, scenographer and sportswoman.
Founder and managing director of Parkour Generations, co-creator of the A.D.A.P.T™ courses, coach and author, Dan Edwardes writes of success:

Why is being strong better than being weak?  Is it at all?
Or is the process of becoming strong just a vehicle, a path for us to focus our own understanding of ourselves, our world, our lives, and our place in the order of things?’

For the Parkour participant, also known as Traceur, an on-going commitment to self awareness is certainly part of the route to success. Only when a Traceur understands how and why they move can they find the flow of movement required to move in and around obstacles in their path. Whilst Parkour requires a skill set specific to the discipline it also offers a valuable insight into what can be achieved when focus is given to knowledge and understanding embodied by each individual participant.

In contrast, figure skating, like many other sporting activities measures success through a more externally visible and universally accepted approach. An international marking system turns success into a mathematical calculation and makes the identification of a successful skating performance easy. But does it really? The answer is both yes and no. Whilst computer systems enable judges to assess technical performance it is less clear how to judge a skater’s interpretation and artistic expression of a piece of music. Whilst it’s a common belief that the art of skating has been lost to the technical development of the sport, it is more likely that it’s become harder to understand, and therefore judge, how to synthesise new technical skills with advanced artistic ones.

For a synchronised skating team these problems are multiplied since success is located through many interlocking performances. Improving the success of a team therefore requires an understanding of how to assess and effectively combine the technical and artistic skills of each individual. To understand how this can be achieved it’s worth considering the Traceur’s attitude towards failure as well as individual success. Whilst Parkour training generally centres on personal goals and experiences, the focus on mental strength is relevant and applicable to a team. For example, for the Traceur failure to move smoothly from one object to another is not a negative outcome, but an inevitable part of a journey that leads to self awareness. To fail is to locate a weakness, better understand why it exists and make appropriate changes to a performance so that it doesn’t happen again. From this perspective the synchronised skater might do well to consider how and why they move, how well these perceptions relate to interpretations made by a third party and what new pathways can be taken to develop a performance as a result of this understanding.

This leads me to the area I hope to investigate as part of my proposed collaboration with the Hub Residency Team and the development of my investigations into training and performance practices. In this project drawing is used as a research method to access and explore embodied experiences of a UK synchronised skating team as they develop their performance. I have already conducted some initial drawing work with the team, but hope to continue the drawing and movement workshops through a competitive season to examine and challenge how skaters perceive success both individually and as a team.

drawing from synchronised skating workshop 

For more about Hannah see www.hannah-gravestock.co.uk 

No comments:

Post a Comment