18 March 2020
"I can be myself. With dance, there is no right and wrong,” says Christchurch dancer Michael Krammer, a founding member of Jolt in Christchurch and an assistant tutor with Arts Integrated since 2014.
At Arts Integrated, Michael teaches in the Wednesday and Thursday performance classes, where he leads warm-ups, and helps with planning and stage management.
“Arts Integrated has allowed me to teach a variety of activities to different students over the years,” he says.
Arts Integrated is a Christchurch creative space, offering a two-year programme for school leavers to experience dance, drama and music. Trustee Trisha Ventom says Michael has an extensive background in dance and teaching.
”Being a part of Jolt's Move tutor training scheme has paved the way for Michael to plan and prepare classes that support Arts Integrated. He’s a great role model and mentor for other people who may be considering a future in the arts.”
Michael describes his 19 years with Jolt as “an incredible journey”. He’s performed in most of Jolt’s major shows and performances. "I have done a lot of shows where people come to see me dance on stage. Sometimes I feel nervous but I just pretend there is no audience and then I can dance."
Jolt is an inclusive, integrated dance company providing dance training and performance opportunities for all ages and abilities. Lyn Cotton, its Artistic Director, says Michael takes every challenge offered to him to develop, learn and contribute to the wider dance community.
"His commitment to dance is total"
"Michael is an exceptional young man and his commitment to dance is total. He is a beautiful dancer who has produced work of a high quality with Jolt,” Lyn says.
"He has a wonderfully open and fluid style, and is skilled at dancing with diverse partners – from professional dancers to people with complex disabilities. He has a great openness and compassion as well as movement technique. He makes others look good when he is dancing."
He is also a tutor at Jolt and takes a Bump class on Monday nights. “Teaching class has been really amazing for me to show my teaching skills, which I have learned from various people.
“One day I would like to choreograph my own piece with my Bump class to show the parents what an amazing journey they have had with me.”
On Tuesdays, Michael teaches in primary schools as part of Jolt’s Move tutor training scheme, which teaches people with disabilities how to teach dance,
"Each session has its challenges," Michael says. "Each student has their own ability to dance in their own way. I support them in doing what they want to do, and help them find ways to move and show what they feel."
Since 2019, he has also co-taught a group of 11 dancers with disabilities, alongside Rochelle Waters.
A member of the Jolt board of trustees since its beginnings, he resigned last year to take up a paid position with Jolt. He also helps with stage management for the company’s performances.
Among his awards over the years, he was shortlisted for the Arts Access Artistic Achievement Award 2014, and in 2015 he received a Highly Commended Award for being a valued member of Jolt.
Michael was one of five artists who participated in Arts Access Aotearoa’s 2014 "I’m an artist" campaign held in Christchurch, Hamilton, Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin.
A significant work for Michael was a performance that looked at his experience of autism. Called Let Inside Me Laugh, it was performed in Christchurch and Dunedin in 2007. About this work, a Christchurch audience member said: "It was inspiring and challenging. I saw the world through their eyes."
In addition to his work with Jolt and Arts Integrated, Michael has co-presented numerous workshops supporting people to be prepared in an emergency, and has spoken at conferences on this topic.
He is currently assisting in wellbeing workshops, supporting people to feel healthy and active.