Body, Breath and Story: building a contemporary storytelling practice

Body, Breath and Story: building a contemporary storytelling practice
Event Type: 
Private Event - Please contact the organisers if you would like to know more
Thursday, 17 January 2019 - 1:30pm to Sunday, 30 June 2019 - 4:00pm
Bradden Village Hall
Lower End Bradden
NN12 8EE Towcester ,
Organisation Name: 
Jo Blake (Cave)

What is the course?

This training programme explores the powerful and complex art of the contemporary storyteller. Taking as a given that most contemporary storytellers are ‘orphaned to tradition’
– that is, they exist outside of a defined oral tradition - this course explores how we nurture a relationship with traditional stories from a place of authentic personal experience. Working with and through the body as our primary medium, we explore how our own personal mythology interacts with cultural mythology, cultivating a storytelling practice grounded in dialogue between the personal and the archetypal. Spoken word, dance and music are used as methods to deepen the relationship between the storyteller and the stories we tell.

The programme is experimental in nature, inviting radical reinterpretations of what
a contemporary storyteller might be, supported by the rhythm of the body – breath, heartbeat, footfall.

 By the end of the course, the aim is for each participant to have:

                                    –  enhanced performance skills in movement, voice and rhythm 

                                    –  a developed awareness of a range of traditional narratives (fairytale and myth) and their context 

                                    –  a twenty minute solo performance which can be developed further into a full length performance 

                                    –  a greater sense of their unique voice as a contemporary storyteller and what they have to offer 


What skills will I learn?

As a live performing art, storytelling draws on the whole performer – body, voice, spirit and imagination. All four aspects will be enriched through this programme, with particular emphasis on: 


Improvisation and presence


 Increased physical and vocal expressivity




Composition and performance score

In between the four-day intensives, participants will be required to research stories in preparation for the following month. A reading list will also be provided for those who wish to deepen their knowledge of story, storytelling and performance theory. Monthly modules include:

                                    –  The ‘I’ of the Storyteller: autobiography as personal myth

                                    –  The Shadow of Storytelling:
a traditional art in a fractured world

                                    –  The Storyteller as Healer: story medicine

                                    –  The Storyteller as Trickster: provocateur and agent of change

                                    –  The Storyteller as Shapeshifter: working with materials

                                    –  Storytelling as Ritual: the storytelling event


Who is the course for?

                                    –  Storytellers who want to renew their existing practice 

                                    –  Performers/Actors/Dancers who want to develop complimentary storytelling skills 

                                    –  Visual artists and writers who want to explore a live medium 

                                    –  Curious and open-hearted individuals at any stage in their life or career, who wish to cultivate their own creativity and nd their voice as a storyteller 


How long will I need? 

We will meet for three-and-a-half days per month over six months from January to June 2019: 
January 17th – 20th

February 21st – 24th

March 28th – 31st

April 25th – 28th

May 23rd – 26th

June 27th - 30th

The working day is 1:30pm – 5:30pm on Thursday, 10am – 5pm on Friday and Saturday, and 10am – 4pm on Sunday. Additional home practice/research will also be required. 


How much does it cost?

Course fee


Fee to be paid in full before the start date. However, please get in touch with me personally if you feel called to attend the course but cannot a ord the fees all in one go.


Where is it?


Bradden Village Hall, Bradden, Towcester, Northamptonshire, NN12 8EB


Participants will be responsible for booking their own accommodation. A list of local b&b’s, hotels, hostels and campsites will be available, and assistance given to any participant needing advice or support on finding suitable accommodation.


How do I apply?

To apply please send a copy of your CV and a covering letter detailing any relevant experience and your reasons for wanting to do this training programme. Please send applications to

Please Note: this is a body-based performance training programme. You will be encouraged to work physically and dynamically. Please include details of any physical challenges or disabilities you may be working with.


Who is Jo Blake?

Jo Blake is a performer working across the disciplines of storytelling, theatre and dance, exploring contemporary issues through
the lens of the mythic. She has trained with leading practitioners in the eld of storytelling (Ashley Ramsden and Sue Hollingsworth, Ben Haggarty, Hugh Lupton, Abbi Patrix), theatre (Song of the Goat, Complicite) and dance (Helen Poyner, the Tamalpa Life/Art process by Anna and Daria Halprin). She holds a PhD in Storytelling Practices from the University of Chichester, an MA with Distinction in
Dance Theatre from Trinity Laban and a First Class BA (Hons) in Performing Arts from the University of Winchester. She was nominated for an Arts Foundation Fellowship Award
for Storytelling in 2009 and was Resident Storyteller at Royal & Derngate theatre in Northampton from 2010–2013. She continues to lecture and collaborate with prominent national and international institutions.