The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Vincent Thomas: Life through movement

Vanessa T./The Blue & Gold

Slowly, his lower body bowed down, his left leg lifts up until both reach the same level, both parallel to the floor while a single right leg, strong and adjacent to the ground and his body, supported his entire weight. Vincent Thomas, a professional dancer, has been a visitor at Taipei American School for two weeks, this will be his last week of stay.
Taipei American School was able to invite Vincent Thomas to the school as a guest artist after English teacher Mr. Henry Chuang took one of Thomas’s classes at the National High School Dance Festival.
Thomas said that there tended to be no specific common theme for his lessons. Rather, they focus on the broader topic of our “humanness, healthy body, mind and spirits.” A technique that he applies often in his lessons is Anne Green Gilbert’s Brain Compatible Dance Education (written as a book), which focuses on eight movements that are most natural for human beings. Through infusing various different styles, Thomas said that it can help us “get into a more organic moving style.”
During his visit to TAS, his lessons focused on masculinity. In workshops such as Fathers, Sons, and Other Guys, the participants discussed and challenged the stereotypical idea of a “tough” male. He worked with Lower School, middle school and Upper School students in their classes, in order to help choreograph their performance this Friday, Jan. 17.
The reason for the topic of this recent project was due to Vincent’s interest in male movement and male dance. Thomas said, “I do believe that in all cultures men have a role, or have had a role, in moving and dancing from many, many, many, many years ago, and so part of my curiosity about those dance they did is why they did them? Where are they now? What is still there? And what has been lost?”
“I was looking at essences of masculinity, and really, a lot of that was around my curiosity to understand my place in the world, and what it means to be masculine as a social construct. And also understanding myself as a gay male and how that is viewed,” Thomas said. In his search, Thomas created the above project and another called Shadow. The workshops serve as a “neutral space, comfortable space for people to be able to converse.”

“I was looking at essences of masculinity, and really, a lot of that was around my curiosity to understand my place in the world, and what it means to be masculine as a social construct.”

Another of his projects, the Grandmother Project, came about after the passing of Thomas’s grandmother. “When she passed away I was very devastated and the whole family was, but my aunts and uncles and mom, they never talked about grandma, or ‘big ma,’ a lot, because I found out that they loved her so much they didn’t know how they can talk about it because they just were so emotionally rapt.” Thomas said.
Yet he eventually established a tradition of “table talks” in his family during Thanksgiving dinner, where family members share stories about his grandmother around the dinner table. “If you don’t talk about her, it’s like she never lived,” Thomas said.
In addition to taking inspiration from everyday life, he integrates of different dance styles into modern dances. Thomas has previously taken a few master classes in classical Indian dancing. “I’m also really interested in folk dances, in learning and taking Mexican folk dances, or other folk dances in Taiwan,” he said.
Though he is leaving Taiwan tomorrow, he hopes to visit Taiwan again to further explore its dance scene. “Hopefully I’ll be able to come back and then also really take advantage or be able to go into the community and some Taiwanese folk,” he said.

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