The Training Society of Vancouver

November 14/16

Olivia Shaffer

Class Description:  Olivia’s approach to dance and movement is rooted in her interests of the meeting of our body’s physical sensations, functional capabilities, and outwardly expressivity. The combination of these three elements is what she believes cultivates a dancer’s embodied, tuning to the present moment.

Class will begin with a guided warm-up to deepen awareness of ourselves in relationship to gravity by sensing the balance between tension and ease. Developmental movement principles such as yielding, head-tail connection, and push patterns will be considered to facilitate pathways that move us in and out of the floor with ease and efficiency. We will travel through space utilizing “scores of limitation” to create opportunities to unlearn habitual patterning, as to enrich the possibilities of our dancing.

As we begin to improvise together we will discover the innate physics in our movements, using gravity as a tool rather than a hindrance. Similarly, by learning to gently pour our weight we notice how timing can allow for effortless movements. We will consider the notion of physical empathy, exploring how we can make ourselves light and supportive in surrendering to weight flow and counterbalance.


Olivia Shaffer is a choreographer, performing artist, and movement teacher from Vancouver, BC. She holds a BFA in dance and a Liberal Arts Certificate from Simon Fraser University. Her movement philosophy and teaching is shaped by her background in contemporary dance, improvisation, contact improvisation (CI), somatic practices, and Pilates. Since 2011, Olivia has trained daily with CI master Peter Bingham and has received substantial training in improvisation, Laban Movement Analysis & Bartenieff Fundamentals with Helen Walkley.

She teaches weekly CI classes at EDAM Dance and has taught dance locally at Douglas College, SFU, Modus Operandi, Polymer Dance, Leviathan Studios, as well as internationally in Berkeley, California, and at the University of the Philippines in Manila.

Olivia has worked as a freelance dancer for 10 years. She currently performs with companies such as EDAM Dance, Co.ERASGA, LINK Dance, MACHiNENOiSY, and Donna Redlick Dance. As a choreographer and improviser, Olivia creates embodied, presence-based performance. She is in the midst of creating a solo about the mental deterioration of a loved one, to be premiered November 2019.


*Photo credit: Hilary Maxwell