LAB. PHYSICAL ARTISTIC AWARENESS
Long term research project
Images: Philippe Wuyts (dance) en Marc Wellens & Albert Engelen (music)
The artists body is his instrument and his contact to the audience. Therefore, the knowledge and use of the body are present in courses in the different performing arts programs of the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp. Developing artists need to be able to express, capture and keep the audience’s attention and need to excel in the technicity of the performance. Physical awareness helps the artist to develop, create awareness and maintain the body as a strong expressive instrument in order to build a rich carrier.
At the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, awareness of the body is being stimulated and trained in different courses such as Physical Awareness, developed since 1987 by Magda Thielemans. Her method is qualified by the alumni and colleagues as unique and valuable and is said to be essential and supportive to the artists carrier. Alumni witness that Physical Awareness training increased their level of artistic performance as well as they learned how to take care of their precious instrument.
At present, the method is only being thought by Magda Thielemans. After more than thirty years of teaching, the researcher wants to find out if the method is unique in its own and, if so, filter out this unicity. The researcher will observe, reflect, analyse data and compare her own method to those being used in other educations in the arts and other known physical awareness methods. Literature research, interviews, focus groups will help to define and describe the methodology and benefits of the courses. This one-year starting project will be the fundament of further research and the development of a platform to share the technique with any artist, student, lecturer, teacher-trainer or teacher in the performing arts.
Magda Thielemans (1964, Leuven-Belgium) started dancing at the Leuven Conservatoire at the age of 8. In 1984 she graduated from the Hoger Instituut voor Dans (present Dance Department of the Antwerp Royal Conservatoire, AP University of Applied Sciences and Arts / degree in Contemporary Dance and Education).
In addition to working as a dancer and a teacher, Magda Thielemans has been developing physical awareness programmes for singers and actors.
The Thielemans Physical Artistic Awareness Method (LAB MT) is implemented to help students familiarize themselves with their body and to train them in using it well, with the double aim of reaching their artistic goals and building healthy, long-lasting careers. LAB MT also focusses on the body’s spatial impact and its relation to co-players. Simultaneously, research is being conducted into the development of a sharing platform for future (teaching) artists.
In 2008, Thielemans teamed up with physiotherapist Anne Schütt and associate professor Nathalie Roussel in a research project, developing an injury prevention training for musicians playing an instrument. As part of the CORPoREAL research-group, Magda Thielemans co-launched Resilient Artist, a research programme on mental pressure and coping strategies for artists (with the department of Applied Psychology of the AP University).
Thielemans is currently teaching and coordinating the physical awareness and movement training programme at the drama and music department of the Antwerp Royal Conservatoire. She is artistic coordinator of the educational dance programmes at the same institute.
She regularly hosts pedagogical workshops and masterclasses and was a guest teacher at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel. At the International Opera Academy (Ghent-Belgium) she supported professional singers in their physical and expressive development through classes and workshops.
Jan Staes (1972) is a teaching artist at the Educational Master in Music and Performing Arts Royal Conservatory of Antwerp and a researcher in artistic research at CORPoREAL.
Since 2001 he has been active as a dramaturge with various companies in Flanders. In addition, he was coordinator of CANON, the Culture Cell of the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training, for ten years and intendant culture, youth and education for the City of Antwerp from 2008 to 2015.
He is also coordinator of the Master Arts Education at Fontys Hogeschool voor de kunsten, Tilburg.