Taking dance to a different dimension
What if you take the benefits and quiet of meditation and combine it with the physical release and joy of dance? Nikhita Winkler is doing just that, with a method of dancing she calls “Presencing”. As she sits cross-legged in the chair in front of me, Nikhita explains why she’s currently exploring this style of dance. She’s left behind the strict “technique” method of dancing for something that she believes is more natural. With ballet, hip-hop, or any other form of dance, Nikhita believes there’s some understanding of the dance form needed to understand its message. For her, however, the ultimate universal dance is the natural movements that all human beings have. She makes use of these “natural” movements and combine them with a meditative state that arouses an awareness of the sensory experience. That means anything that she touches, the ground beneath her feet, the air around her, the sounds in in the distance, the way her body moves, all of these things form a part of how she decides to move and in which way.
Nikhita exemplifies a dancer in her fluid movements, the comfort that dancers universally share being in their own bodies. As she talks she reiterates her points with the movement of the hand, moving her wrist like a flower in a breeze. Every movement is a dance, every action part of a choreographed movement that happens subconsciously, automatic through hours of practice.
What in hindsight proved to be the foundation for her career and the seed that set her life in its direction, Nikhita not too long ago was a little girl in pink tights taking ballet classes at the College of the Arts under the legendary Heather Kittel (now retired). The discipline that ballet taught settled into Nikhita for life; she does not tolerate tardiness in her dancers, and like her ballet teacher once did, she expects nothing less than 100% commitment. “Just show up”, she tells me, that’s the basis for anything one does.
Dancing through Change
We talk about her newest show, which is an exploration of her latest change, the move back home to Namibia after living abroad for many years. “Its a change,” but one that she’s taken on, turning the challenge into an opportunity to work with other dancers and artists and showcase a next-level form of dancing.
Presencing seems a bit complicated, at first. Nikhita explains that although this style of dancing is based on improvisation, there is nonetheless practice involved, as well as choreographing. The dancers need to be able to understand each other, much like a band of jazz musicians converse through their music, Nikhita and her dancers take their cues from each other, moving in a way that would seem planned but is absolutely in the moment. And as with Jazz, I have no doubt that Nikhita’s dancing will take off and become entrenched in our culture.
Nikhita’s latest production, “Change” takes place on Thursday 26 May 2016 at 19:30 at the FNCC gallery.
Words: Nina van Schalkwyk