For the past couple of years, during the summer, I’ve traveled to take dance workshops. Intensives that I’ve found challenging and inspiring have included Deltebre Dansa, Gaga Summer Intensive, Amsterdam Summer Intensive and the China – CEEC Summer Dance Camp.

This year though it felt a little bit different. Not only because I gave an intensive myself but because I thought I might miss taking one. At the end of the summer though, it happened that a great teacher would arrive at my door step instead of mе having to travel afar.

In my role as editor of Dancing Opportunities I had often got enquiries to promote workshops with Iñaki Azpilaga from Ultima Vez. I followed him virtually and a couple of weeks ago I got a submission about his Dynamic Change Workshop at the Firkin Crane organised by Luke Murphy. The opportunity to finally meet Iñaki and explore what he had to offer was too much to resist.

My whole experience during the workshop can be described as “Off Balance”. The intensive was based on his work with Ultima Vez. We had a good five hours a day and managed to touch upon many existential tools and techniques for dancers. The most challenging for me was the constant drive to fall and be off balance. Falling while running, falling while turning, falling into somebodies arms, running to catch someone falling. It’s such a great concept and after the workshop I even found my balance in ballet class improved. On the street I had the impulse to walk head first, falling off balance..

Mihaela Griveva and Iñaki AzpilagaWhat impresses me most while studying with great teachers is not only their expertise but the way they structure their classes and their approach to students. Iñaki managed to give us valuable lessons on floor work, vertical work, composition and partner work. All of that while working with dancers coming from different backgrounds and levels. His interest in finding ways to reach us and to paying attention to each student along with his in depth knowledge made this workshop an essential for every dancer.
Two big lessons I learned from Iñaki:

Teachers, pay attention to your students and put aside your ego. Adjust your class responding to their needs.

Dancers, try to allow yourself be off balance anytime you can and enjoy the ride.

Photos: Luke Murphy

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