Talawa Technique structures elements of African & Caribbean practices uniquely designed to facilitate poly-centrism, multiple movement qualities, grounding and poly-rhythm. Talawa Technique deconstructs and reconstructs these practices in such a way as to reveal the quality of each unique element by themselves as well as the added accumulative potential achieved when these elements are intentionally recombined.
The Talawa Technique is an Africana Technique that gives access to the technologies of Africana dance creation. Technology is often described as the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation. This definition could also be applied to artistic creation or artistic research. The Talawa Technique is a way to navigate, systemize and access the many skills, methods, processes, and techniques that are found in the practices of Africana dance production. Many of these practices are “poly”/multi-layered.
The Talawa Technique was systemized based on an extensive research and adaptation process. To ensure that the technique covered a sufficient amount of “foundational” Africana movement vocabulary, positions, placements, isolations, and movement approaches, 286 dances were chosen. These were notated according to the positions of arms, torso, feet, hips, posture, approach to grounding, use of poly-centricity, and so forth. This process created a comprehensive notation system that has proven to be a hidden gem in and of itself. Notating these dances revealed certain recurrences of positions, placements, concepts, and qualities. The most common of these are what we would call “foundational” in that they seem to be load-bearing common structures in much of the Africana vocabulary. We write “foundational” in quotation marks to communicate that we are not talking about one style, set of concepts, practices, and aesthetics.
Talawa Technique certifies both instructors and performers.
In the notation system, we used algebra as a foundation. Algebra could facilitate the cumulative aspects of Africana Technique and could serve to write down aspects of rhythm to movement ratios. It allowed us to multiply certain qualities, tempos, and rhythms with specific body-parts.
The notations were fed through a computer, revealing which positions were most commonly used in relation to each other and specific movement qualities. This uncovered the aforementioned commonalities as well as position “choices”, which might be due to technical rather than aesthetic factors. Out of these initial 286 dances, 81 African and 56 Circum-Caribbean were selected to test our fundamental theories and assumptions. It was found that with the help of 32 arm positions, 15-stances, seven levels or origins of isolation in the spine, 21 movement qualities, and 16 turns, it was possible to reconstruct the 81 African and 56 Caribbean dances. In addition to these base placements (in the technique referred to as Akimbos), the technique has 158 movement research phrases designed to train specific qualities, coordination, musicality, and more. These then became the foundation on which the cumulative technical system is based. This system is now called the Talawa TechniqueTM with the slogan Ancient Power – Modern Use.
A MYTHO-TECHNICAL APPROACH
A Mytho-technical approach is an approach that acknowledges movement practices as both manifested in the seen and unseen world. It draws from both science, mythology, and cosmology. Many Indigenous Movement Systems are Mytho-technical. A modern example would be the folkloric Cuban technique. The movement of the Orisha deities is the sources of the technical information both de-and-re-constructed in the movement practice and performance modes.
A mytho-technical approach allows us to have the body move as if it’s poly-souled even without reaching that state. We can, therefore, restructure and reshape our movements for secular stages. This affords us the ability to keep the type of presence demanded by contemporary stage performance while retaining the movement qualities, power, and vitality of ritualized Africana dance. There are ways to engage with this as the lines between the secular and the sacred within Africana forms are not strictly drawn. Accountability, research, and respect is how to engage with ancestral practices.
THE MYTHO-TECHNICAL ANIMAL – THE SPIDER, THE BIRD, AND THE SNAKE
The Mytho-technical approach in the Talawa TechniqueTM also serves as a way to organize movement practices, qualities of movement, performance modes, cultural information and anatomical imagery to facilitate movement. The multiple techniques and knowledges that are active, often simultaneously, in the Talawa TechniqueTM are stored under the Mytho-technical umbrella of The Snake, The Spider and The Bird. These are not separate elements but instead form a mythical “animal”, binding the mind, body, spirit together in movement. This renders the Talawa-trained body as a Mytho-technical entity, embodying many qualities simultaneously.
EXPAND THE TUTORIAL MENU ABOVE TO GET VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO DRILL THE SNAKE, THE SPIDER, AND THE BIRD, PLUS VIDEOS OF TURNS PHRASES AND MORE.