DUENDE & The DUENDE School of Ensemble Physical Theatre


I set up DUENDE in 2010 – intending to nurture a loose collective of artists who shared a core training (Self-With-Others) and yet brought distinct and individual skills to the company. From the start DUENDE was committed to international and intercultural exploration and to a core belief in the idea that principles of ensemble lie at the heart both of live performance and of the pedagogy through which the skills of performance might be passed from generation to generation. DUENDE is committed to honouring and extending lineages across generations and collaborations across borders.

From the start, a core part of DUENDE’s work was pedagogic – workshops and residential workshops, occasionally residencies in HE settings. It seemed a natural extension of our work, in 2014, in discussion with some of my closest colleagues, to establish a School to offer more extended training opportunities. Thus The DUENDE School of Ensemble Physical Theatre was born.

The foundational pedagogy is Self-With-Others – the improvisation-based, ensemble-orientated psychophysical training process I have been exploring systematically since 1999. I am the main teacher at the school, and the basic physical training is run by my colleague, Greek choreographer and aerialist Eva Tsourou. Other inputs are made by local and international artists who share a training in Self-With-Others, but with particular areas of expertise  – voice, musicality, choreography, devising.

There are some key principles that underpin the school  –
+ The School is unaffiilated with any other organisation. That means that it must be financially self-supporting. It also means we can keep administration costs to a minimum. We have no desire to become an institution.
+ The School will run – as much as possible – in low-cost economies. This means we can keep fees as low as possible and that living expenses for international students are relatively low.
+ As low-cost economies are often low-wage economies, a significant additional reduction in fees is offered to local students.
+ The School actively recruits internationally, so that the student cohort is diverse and offers a rich personal and aesthetic mixture.
+ Any artist who teaches at or works for the school will be paid as well as possible.
+ The pedagogy that underpins the work is focused and precise – we are not trying to cover everything, we will give a strong engagement with one, foundational and rigorous approach to psychophysical training.
+ The core principles of the pedagogy – including positive feedback, unconditional support and acceptance, inter-disciplinarity, pleasure – will be embodied and expressed in every aspect of the School’s operation.
The School ran for the first time in Athens, Greece in 2015. 19 students (all women) followed the ten-week programme from initial training through to full public production.
In 2016 the School is again in Athens (as it will be in 2017… though possibly we will be elsewhere in 2018). This year there are (male and female) students from Greece, USA, Russia, China, Australia, Poland, Germany, India, Malaysia, and UK. The work is intense and passionate.
These blog-posts offer insights by some of those involved in the work.
Please feel free to contact me if you want more information or would like to comment.
John Britton
Artistic Director; DUENDE
Founder & Director: The DUENDE School of Ensemble Physical Theatre
DUENDE & The DUENDE School: www.duende-ensemble.com