What is Artistry?

By Joan Tennille

Artistry in Canine Freestyle is about movement and choices.  Movement is the technical skill trained in CanineFreestyle DogWork®; specifically, the dog's movement enhanced by the human's movement in a team relationship. Teams train technically for accuracy in all possible directions, levels and speeds in three positions heel, front and thunder.  For executed movement to be performed artistically it must be changed conceptually.  Artistic expression is to express movement as a shape, rhythmically moving, in and through the Presentation Space dynamically expressing a behavioral intent and/or quality dynamically.  Artistically expressed movement fulfills Freestyle DogWork's defined objective, "to show the dog to his best advantage in a creative and artistic manner".   DogWork also trains movement as a creative medium to clarify how, what, why and where of the Presentation.  Conceptually crafted movement phrases weave through and mesh with the musical choice to express the oneness of movement with music to focus on the objective and intents of the choreographed Presentation.  The continuity of the choreographic parts, expressed as a seamless flow of artistically expressed movement from opening to closing shape draws spectators into the Presentation and maintains their interest.

Spectators experience artistically expressed movements as auditory, visual, kinesthetic and/or mental perceptions in relationship to the Presentation Space; the musical choice and the dynamics of the intents.  Spectators experience movement expressed as balanced and harmonious shapes, moving in and through the Presentation Space, illustrating the delight dog and human have working and training as one.  Each Presentation, a celebration of training and relationship, a result of training.  Each Presentation illustrates DogWork in a creative and artistic manner.  The oneness of the crafted team designs artistically express honor, respect and trust.  The oneness of movement, music, objective and intents makes movement talk; involving spectators emotionally into the team's journey to reach the team’s highest potential technically, artistically and creatively.

In 1995, Susan College and her Yorkie, Misha with 4 other teams launched the first CanineFreestyle DogWork® Presentations at the AKC Invitational demonstrating a new competitive discipline in the Sport of Dogs.  What I had begun as a demonstration of dog work in October, 1993, had developed in 2 years to The Canine Freestyle Federation to govern and develop the new discipline in the Sport of Dogs.  There were:

  • Rules and judging criteria, to protect and maintain the sport's integrity
  • A Training Program, to produce teams technically, artistically and creatively in movement execution and expression, performance, live and before observers, as a creative medium to craft and organize movement creatively with music for Performance
  • Presentations, performed artistically test training and its effect on the team's relationship for your viewing pleasure, The performance that introduced CanineFreestyle DogWork® to the World, Misha and Susan, the music is LeRoy Anderson's Penny Whistle Jig and the choreographer, Joan Tennille.

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