Embodied learning at Sydney Opera House: Dance and Architecture

Photo by Katje Ford, courtesy of Sydney Opera House.
Photo by Katje Ford, courtesy of Sydney Opera House.

Sydney Opera House is offering some unexpected opportunities for engagement outside of performances. One of these offerings is a Dance and Architecture workshop incorporating STEAM pedagogies, weaving arts and science subjects for primary students. 

Led by Charemaine Seet, a dancer, choreographer and movement educator, Dance and Architecture is a long form workshop, where participants embody the architectural and engineering principals of the opera house design.

Sydney Opera House's Dance and Architecture. Photo by Zorica Purlija.
Sydney Opera House’s Dance and Architecture. Photo by Zorica Purlija.

“There has been a lot of emphasis on STEAM as an aspiration,” says Seet. “This program really does that; we are using dance to look at proportion and physical forces. We talk about the architectural history through dance, we look at different parts of it in terms of engineering and architecture and how it works, then we play with exercises that give embodied experience of the principles. We look at tensegrity in the architecture and we do some exercises like partnership to get a feeling of what that feels like in the body.” 

Seet continues, “Some of the kids have expectations around dance, and they are like, oh no I have to dance, but it is about weight and control. We press our bodies into the concrete and shapes and use those impressions to create movement, we look at angles, and use the memory of that shape to create movement or dance.”

Photo by Katje Ford, courtesy of Sydney Opera House.
Photo by Katje Ford, courtesy of Sydney Opera House.

Seet also runs a dance school in Surry Hills, Sydney, “a forward-thinking contemporary dance school, where we teach post-modern choreographic strategy to younger kids. We freestyle and mix in cross cultural forms,” Seet explains. “A lot of the work we are doing in teaching now is looking at teaching from neurological point of view. The emotions around learning are important for how we learn. Excitement and awe really enable the learning to sink into bodies.”

The Dance and Architecture program runs at the Sydney Opera House across 2024. 

For more information, visit www.sydneyoperahouse.com/schools/dance-and-architecture.

For more on Charemaine Seet, head to www.seetdance.com.

By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa. 

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