Inside an open meeting room I’m standing in front of of my partner balancing on one foot, the other out in the air, pressed against hers. Slowly we release our feet backwards as if some imaginary force has pushed us apart like two negatively charged magnets. “This is what it looks like when you reject feedback,” says our facilitator.
I’m taking part in the morning session of the Banff Centre’s Leadership Workshop Building Accountability. The program, run by Motus O Dance Theatre, uses movement and dance to communicate leadership concepts. Facilitators Cynthia Croker and Jack Langenhuizen, along with Ed McKenzie and Diana Theodores, take participants through a series of exercises aimed at explaining high-level concepts in new ways, enlightening managerial challenges.
People, mostly at the middle management level, bring their own professional challenges to the workshop, and the facilitators have everyone moving in rhythmic fashion to music (or, dancing) every day. Each movement is designed to make physical and intellectual connections to finding solutions.
Participants identify work challenges early in the workshop, and facilitators address each one. Crocker says the process is like a relay. It starts with Diana Theodores taking everyone through theatre exercises, focusing on presentation and voice. Then Ed McKenzie digs deep into individual challenges, followed by the whole company creating choreography to illustrate ideas and solutions.
People in the program are all encouraged to play, a large part of releasing creativity and finding personal and professional growth. Croker and Langenhuizen say that play is natural to us, and it helps to remove managers from more measurable and traditionally corporate activities. But getting them out of rigid mindsets can be a challenge in itself. As Langenhuizen puts it, “We have to force ourselves to play, or schedule it in.”