100 Creatives 2014: Leslie Scates, Choreographer and Dance Educator

Categories: 100 Creatives

All photos by Catalina Molnari
Choreographer and dance educator Leslie Scates learned two important lessons about how to be creative from her mom: "I can always acquire new skills," Scates tells us. "[And] creativity and action are sometimes more important than a clean kitchen and folded laundry."

Scates says everyone in her family had their own means of expressing creativity; it was something her parents encouraged and modeled. "My family of origin also is a basic part of what I am and do. My mother is a pioneer. She became a small plane pilot in her forties. She painted, she learned woodworking, she gardens, and she fly fishes. I have five siblings that all are creatives, movers, thinkers of some kind. We were supported in sports, music and creative activities, assisted in mastering risky physical things - motorcycles, water skiing, skateboards, motocross bikes, jumping off of platforms on swings. And we were allowed to be weird. We were told to think for ourselves, follow instincts, and fight back if necessary."

It's no wonder Scates specializes "contact in improvisational" dance. "Contact Improvisation is a form of post modern dance that I study, practice and teach," she says. "It is an improvised dance, made by two or more people, by following points of physical contact between bodies inside the laws of physics. My description [it's] a blend of modern dance, wrestling and martial arts."

What she does: " I move. I make dances. I teach collaboration through improvised movement practices. My specialties are improvisational dance and performance, contact improvisation, Ensemble Thinking and Re/Wire/Dancing States. I teach dancers to think about what they are creating while they are dancing, and I teach ensembles to create spontaneous, cohesive choreography as a collective creative force.

"I teach individuals to notice habituated movement and choice making patterns. Then, through limiting movement options and compositional choices, fresh decisions are forced, new neural pathways are created, and a thinking dancer is now in the room.

"I teach ensembles of all kinds how to improvise collectively, without hierarchy, through a performance language called Ensemble Thinking. Training in Ensemble Thinking primes ensembles for spontaneous, dynamic and cohesive work using movement and visual processing. This work is essential to dancers and choreographers, but can be strategic training for all creative collectives: software developers, management groups, combat units, medical professionals, graphic and marketing designers, athletic teams...any ensemble that is collaborates and improvises in creating work or products can benefit from training in this active, cognitive and creative practice. It's a brain changer. And it's giant fun."

This story continues on the next page.

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