Parkour and the Arts
Mon, 2011-03-14 09:50
Since starting Glasgow Parkour Coaching almost 3 years ago the majority of the support and funding towards Parkour in Scotland has come from the Arts community, and very little from the Sports community. Among our biggest supporters are The National Theatre of Scotland and The Scottish Ballet and our youth classes are held in a theatre studio, not a sports Centre.
I am a big believer in the diversity of our discipline and its ability to engage young people and force them to think about their environment, their bodies, and their ability to express themselves. For me, and it seems for the local authorities in Scotland, Parkour is an exploration and expression. I want to talk a little about some examples and experiences I've had of this.
In 2007 I was approached by the education director of The National Theatre of Scotland about being involved in a project bringing theatre, performance and the arts to a deprived area just outside of Glasgow. Working across two schools to introduce Parkour, Dance and Creative Writing the idea was to create something which was generated by the young people and the local community. I'd just started seriously considering coaching and so jumped at the chance.
6 months down the line I was assisting on the show in which 14 teenage boys caught up in gang activity and violence in their daily lives were waltzing with one another in the local town hall in front of hundreds of people. There were of course incredible Parkour elements to the performance but what was most interesting for me were the routes that the Parkour students had gone down in terms of performance and creativity which were not really Parkour, or were they?
Last year I was approached by Architecture and Design Scotland to do a workshop with some young people that would help them to explore and look at their environment from a playful and recreational perspective. Over 2 weeks the young people worked with a number of architects, artists and council planners and designed a number of small architectural features which could be placed around the Commonwealth Village here in Glasgow when it is built for 2014. The final designs were small sculptures or benches which gave them a place to rest, sit as a group and also practice parkour techniques and play. Most of the young people practiced Parkour for one day, but the impact on their attitude to design and environment was long-lasting. There's no doubt that this one day of Parkour and exploration of environment influenced their art, design and final product. I was told by a number of the students they had a new found pride in their local area and their respect for their environment. These young people practiced Parkour in the purest sense, through their approach to design, yet they had never tried to cat-walk along a rail or vault a wall. Were they traceurs?
For me, Parkour is an approach to thinking, it's an introduction to being open minded about what you can achieve and express by thinking about your body, your movement and how you use this to progress every and any aspect of your life. It's an invaluable and unique perspective on the world and I think it creates a level of maturity, humility and pride among each individual who is exposed to it.
Britannica online defines art as 'the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others.'
Parkour inspires imagination and determination in countless aspects of the human experience whether it be movement (of any kind), play, design, compromise or conversation.
I invite you to look at Parkour and use your Parkour experience in as many ways as possible since I think we are still only at the beginning of where this can be taken.