RAS Mikey C – Finding the Pulse

Nick Ellerby and Michael Courtney

Imagine a large auditorium. Dark floor, raised seating facing a wide and open performance area. Wood finishes bring a lightness to the whole space. Add 60 business and business school leaders and one Rastafarian artist specialising in Ethio-Modern dance who is a PhD student with an MA in Ethnochoreology- and there is the potential for something special to happen.

Michael Courtney or RAS Mikey C (his Twitter tag) is an engaging teacher, and currently is guest lecturer at University of Limerick, home to the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. Michael is also the recipient of the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship, a first time for a dancer.

We were well managed, quickly discovering how willing we were to do as we were asked. The session wasn’t long, but it built in rhythm, pace and freedom. Permissions and teaching were sprinkled through the time together with elegance and verve. ‘Imagine a world without judgement’ helped everyone let go a little (or in some – a lot), ‘understanding others starts with understanding yourself’ and that ‘everything starts with the pulse’ took us inside, as did the warm ups.

But for me it was the work we did on creating a pulse for the group, before sections creating their own sounds and beats, which had the most impact on my body and mind. It was a powerful experience to shape something together, both in harmony and difference, a potential metaphor for the global community of the GRLI and PRME.

Structure creates safety

We all know that structure creates safety and Michael provided this with a gentle yet disciplined approach. If we had been together longer I imagine we would have moved to the exciting phases of self-managing and self-organising creation through movement, whilst managing our anxieties and fears, by whenever necessary, returning to the pulse or deeper beat.

The heart of some of the most challenging work today is how to honour and value the person and the community without marginalising or removing the freedom and responsibilities inherent in both.

In the session people were offered the opportunity to open their heart and create something that called for everyone to freely contribute and in doing so create something amazing beyond anything that could be achieved alone.

That is part of my hope for the work that is being carried out in Limerick by the partners of the GRLI and the PRME champions.

Hopefully this will not be the last time I move to the beat of RAS Mikey C, and the beginning of a different pulse for the GRLI.