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Dance as Network Model

Dance as a form of movement and training is a model, a template that networks the entire body.

The model has two basic operations. One is to switch focus from the micro view to the macro view of the entire person as a series of connected networks. Another is to manage the continuous networking of signals within the human system as both directed and surrendered through awareness of both processes.

To assist these operations dance uses two types of imagery. One is the categorization of signals that manage both the directed and the surrendered networks. Another is a master image that signals can pass through to network the entire body brain and to make detailed adjustments to specific micro areas.

To simplify the networks, dance offers an understanding of the sections of the body that can be networked together by signals passing through a master image. These body sections are called diaphragms or platforms. Each section has a purpose as a connector with its paired diaphragm and as a part of the entire body brain network.

It is my belief that dance is the repository of all this information due to the evolutionary growth of the human. Dance as a networking form grew from the earliest humans, from their imitation and communication with other life forms and from their insistence on communication within the unknowns of spiritual experience. I would conjecture that this is the reason dance has been able to contribute to and absorb the discoveries of every movement form including athleticism, martial arts, and religious ritual. I also believe this is the basis for the power of dance along with music to symbolize the experience of entire cultures and entire epochs of human history.

This is also the reason why dance as a form is offering so many innovations in the understanding and managing of disease and rehabilitation.
Tim Hurst 08/24/17

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Signal Inventories

What are signals to me today?
My Basics
System One
I experience everything rising and falling, everything turning, everything stacking top down and bottom up.
System Two
I experience specific signals initiating from my spine, radiating instantly through my pelvis, head, and my limbs.

My Access
I choose today which signals are easily accessible and which ones are nudging me to explore.
I choose how much awareness I can personally accept given my state of mind, body, emotion, and spiritual appetite.
I test my readiness to access every part of myself by observing both slow and faster motion.
I experience my willingness to see and feel and calibrate every motion.
I recognize my sending and receiving of connected signals as my song, my story, my dance for today.

My Challenges
How far can I take my signals today?
Am I willing to spend the time today to follow the signal and repair what I might strain?
Am I willing to drop physical and mental habits that limit my exploration of signals?
Am I willing to deal with a level of disorientation as my discoveries of clear signals conflict with established patterns of thought and body?
Am I willing to observe and respond to my building and rebuilding of my self?
Am I willing to enter states of vulnerability and certainty where my unknowns and errors are as important as what I know as my current level of skill and experience?
Tim Hurst. 03.13.17

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Dance Experiment Yes

Yesterday I tried to describe a daily dance experiment. It became a boring play by play of another exercise system with a now I do this and then this. Unpublished that and spent a day writing about the brightness that is dance to me, to my teachers,and to choreographers and performers that explore the depths of dance every day.

My passion is to share this process of delight and diligence that as dancers we enter every minute of our lives. My 15 year old grandson describes me with the word exuberance that he defines as “overly excited to the point of being obnoxious.” And I have to admit I have been that exuberant when I want every party to be Ballywood with every one dancing and singing. Or when someone says, “I can’t dance,” and my energy fires up. Or when a choreographer has only a small audience to join their performance of excellence and new discoveries about the human spirit.

My search is for a common denominator that we all obviously share when it comes to dance and music. I will walk into any storm to support every person with an inclination to dance. At this moment I am looking at all the storms I have come through. What I see are layers upon layers of interconnected experiences that are obvious and fully described in the art, the lives and in the words of dancers.

Yet to clarify the processes and principles we express, my words turn to mush and I tear my hair at our denial of the massive influence dance has on our lives both as participants and beneficiaries.

The beauty of dance is that each individual samples its juicy delights and digests it in different ways. The nurture of those dance morsels emerges as a person who is more curious, more aware, more tuned to delight and despair. This nurture is available for the dancer and for those who join with the dancer on their explorations.

This is my search, for a place we can all enter this nurturing world of dance. In my life, I follow the trails to dancers who know this delight and who enter it fully. I find this ability to enter dance in the five year old as well as in the professional, in the social dancer as well as the brilliantly dedicated pointe dancer.

Within my search, the questions and the lists read like a composite of restaurant menus from all over the world and from the camp fires of our earliest ancestors. My main focus is, how do we enter what we know as dance, instant connection of everything we are, instant fun, a second wind insisting we dance forever.

As with any endeavor, the range defines the degrees of entry. The range is from a process and a procedure to the individual experience of the process. We sometimes think of dance as learning a form like Ballet or HipHop or Salsa. Yet when we taste the delights of the actual experience, we only want more.

Entry at this point is when the experience shapes the structure of the dance. In other words, the dance becomes yours. You shape the dance to be you rather than the steps and techniques being the only goal.

Dance is unique. The entry point is instantaneous. The first steps of a child instantly turn to dance with music. The beginner learning the waltz can feel the dance within them even if the body is trying to catch up.

The uniqueness of dance is a lifetime study. A particularly interesting point of entry is the activating of the personal monitor. It has something to do with the play between awareness and a generalized sense of everything working together. Dancers confront their internal emotions and traumas as well as their external interactions.

The monitoring is subtle signals or messages or conversations between the person and every part of their life. Dancers often describe their experience as spiritual or as meditative. I suspect that the reason is this aspect of monitoring that is a personal connection with insights, anticipations, and moments of creating new cells and new points of view.

Dance and music ride the line between the known and the unknown similar to religious ritual and meditation. Structure and form are there to develop processes like personal monitoring to navigate these sometimes challenging seas of uncertainty and vulnerability.

As I describe my exploration and experiments, my intent is not to create a structure or a way to dance. My hope is to find an entry way to making the kinds of connections that dancers and dance teachers make every day.

Will these entry points give you more access to yourself and to dancing? Will they give choreographers and teachers clearer ways to state the importance of their explorations? Will more audiences join choreographers to explore new discoveries of themselves? Again, my hope is to give insights for each individual to find the brightness within themselves where dance resides.

All along the way I could say, build your connections, “Do not do as I do.” As a consummate beginner of dance, I am the perfect person to delve into these murky waters that seem so confusing to explain. It takes me years to absorb a structure, relearning each time I return. Learning patterns requires sometimes hours of improvisation and play with the different pieces of a movement. My system sometimes overloads and freezes my ability to move. One of my Pilates teachers says, “You think too much.” My Floor-BarreTM instructor says I need more fluidity as I am learning the movements.

So my qualifications in doing this study are not what I do or can do, they are my passion to find the entry points that bring delight to every movement.
Tim Hurst. 03.12.17

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A Dynamic Vision of Dance

Welcome to a Dynamic Vision of Dance

Dance and music are time capsules from the first humans. These capsules are unique and go beyond our imaginations to explain. Artists say do not explain us because everything is said in our art. Educators or at least politicians say music and dance are extra curricular activities for people who want to become artists.

A Dynamic Vision of Dance is my experiment to find the simplicity of a dance process and a common thread of vocabulary that helps to understand how our dance capsules affect everything in our lives.

The benefits of music and dance are obvious. An ice skater who is a dancer is immediately recognizable. The crowd applauds loudly. On the other hand, it is more difficult to distinguish the influence of dance in a gymnast whose leap suspends her abouve the beam before making an elegant landing.

We experience the fun of dance and music. We become proficient, even exceptional. We connect the power of our capsules to everything from religion to addiction. We label them either brain food or exercise.

We feel the power of our music and dance time capsules or we deny they ever existed. The problem is the contents of these capsules are hard to describe.

We can say our capsules work powerfully. Music and dance can symbolize an entire generation or the innovation of an individual. Yet we are adrift when trying to explain the scope of dance alone with its power to blend emotion and movement, to influence learning, athletic skill, injury and disease prevention, and a full range of personal and body therapies.

In actuality dancers and musicians know the experiences in their time capsules. As teachers and choreographers they share the content of their capsules every day. Dancers know their experience in all its simplicity and complexity. They teach it. They perform it. Even with so much clarity and the ability to capsulize a personal vision and a vision of an entire generation, the benefits of music and dance are explained away as a mystery.
Tim Hurst. 02.03.17

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What’s Movement to a Dancer?

What appears to be physical changes of position and poses is for the dancer a refining of complex networks of signals connecting, dissolving, and reconnecting throughout all the systems of the person.

These signals travel in curved pathways that have been understood by dancers for centuries and are now studied as Structural Integration. It is the curved pathways of signals that a dancer experiences as continuous movement of sensation, anticipation, initiation, completion, and transition into multiple directions at once.

The dancer’s tools of compression and extension are related to signals that are continuously in motion. What appears as stillness or a pause is actually another state of movement.

An audience can immediately identify the delight of a dancer’s simple movement. For the dancer also the movement is an instantaneous connection of physical, emotional, and intentional signals.

From the viewer’s point of view, the movement looks automatic as if a body memory has taken over. For the dancer, there is a rapid shifting of many kinds of focus. One type of focus is from the micro view to monitor a specific skill and the macro view of the entire person at once. Another type of focus is in the awareness which shifts the view from foreground to background.

Even though it may seem as if some movements are directed and others automatic, for the dancer patterns are variations of experience that work at levels sometimes called heightened awareness and sometimes requiring less attention. Both levels of the patterned skill are interconnecting with each other, the difference is the focus on foreground or background.

The dancer’s view is more of a malleable system that is in continual responsiveness. Automatic movement and muscle memory do not adequately explain their complex process.

For the viewer and often for the choreographer, the pattern is seen as a repetition, a replica of a specific movement. For the dancer, the pattern is also a malleable experience that is varied by the thoughts, emotions, and energy of the moment. This is one of the reasons that no two dance performances are the same.

Another astonishing perspective is the dancer’s ability to alter the experience of any movement with a set of modulators. A physical analogy is a musicians sound board. Any sound can be modulated and blended with dials that give more or less of different qualities.

The dancer modulates not just speed or duration but also the qualities that bring emphasis, heaviness or lightness, subtlety or boldness, to name only a few. Like the musician the outcome is a confluence of emotion and interpretation of melodies, rhythms, and harmonies.

Imagery is a tool to assist the dancer with the complexity of shifts in focus and with interconnecting the centers of movement, emotion, and formation of meaning. Signals are shaped and managed with imagery.

Also the anatomy of the body is managed with imagery. Physically, the dancer is also working with the body as a malleable system. To do this the dancer has developed imagery within a training processes for understanding the body movement.

Imagery is often indicating the direction of energy flows. Using the image of signals different areas of the body can be viewed as signal initiators and receptors. Rather than commanding a body part to move, the signal begins at a location and travels back and forth to other sites in the body. These specific locations are interconnected into networks.

Signals move between different areas of the body are called diaphragms and platforms. They usually cross the entire body and give the perspective of the dancer as moving three dimensionally and in every direction. Each one is a major sending and receiving point for many nerve endings and flows of energy.

The platforms are the arches and surfaces of the feet, the palms of the hands, the collar bone and scapula that suspend the shoulder girdle, the base of the skull, and the Fontanelles or meetings of the cranial bones at the top of the head.

The dancer makes detailed studies of each platform to refine the nerve and energy flows to and from each area. Then they connect their access to each by establishing networks between them.

The diaphragms are muscular and give clues to the dancer’s detailed training of large and small muscle groups. The diaphragms are the pelvic diaphragm also known as the pelvic floor, the lower rib cage diaphragm also known as the respiratory diaphragm, the mid chest diaphragm also known as the dancer’s diaphragm, and the Centrum Brain diaphragm with one known moving part the soft palate.

The diaphragms are the dancer’s keys to lifting up from feet to head, to spreading the body horizontally to engage front and back muscles, to arching and rotating the spine, to connecting the torso and the spine to movement of the legs and articulation of the knees, ankles, arches, and toes of the feet.

What difference does the dancer’s perspective make? Movement is a springing motion rather than a pounding one. A balance of extension and compression takes less effort and training goes past the desire to try too hard. The shifts of focus bring a sense of delight to movement. Every area of the body is accessible and trained as a supportive network.
Tim Hurst 10/09/17

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My Creator is a Dancer

It is time to cut the seriousness, taking ourselves so seriously that is.

Seriously, Isn’t it time to stop straining so hard to justify ourselves as a grain of the entire cosmos claiming we are the authority on whether there is a creator or not and if so what kind of a creator he or she is. Maybe that old phrase applies here. Get Real, seriously.

A dancer knows when it is time to pop out of the womb that every moment is a fresh creation. What’s there to do? We dance the celebration dance and the stay alert and alive dance as a kind of juggling act. Actually the juggling is already in process. We are born with a kind of binary up and down, expanding and contracting sort of perspective that means we are a creation in process, in the balance as they say. The dancer of whatever age plays within the balance.

So if creation is at hand every millisecond, what is there to decide? Creation exists. We can name it as life. We can observe it. We can catalog it. And within ourselves those tasks are daunting.

Luckily we are equipped with all the resources to probe and experiment with this life, both life that is us and our life that is interconnected with all life. Luckily we do not have to decide if this life is personal or chemical or extra-terrestrial.

A dancer knows that life is the next moment arriving with all its surprises. We do not have to surmise the characteristics of this life because by the time we make our cartoon dance of ourselves, life has divided a million times into another surprise. Why do we suppose that teenage dancers are eager for the next moment while their peers are imagining hundreds of ways to shut down the life they are given.

As an aside, it is curious that we can spend so much seriousness on whether or not we are right about a creator when we can not even decide how to treat the life at our finger tips. Take for example the polar bear as a creature that can solve any of life’s challenges of survival. Yet as we shove them out of their habitat, we can not devise a way to feed and treat them as real life.

Curiously, this the same way we treat insect species that we kill off daily and even our children have no place to fully play within the realms of their immense creative life. We work our children like they were factory rats and wonder why they have no idea what wonder and awe of life is about.

Back to the point of seriousness, we are given all we need to manage and shape our self as a functioning part of life. A dancer takes a simple image with a simple thought and a movement; adds a simple hope and begins to gather data from the richness of their experience. A dancer knows too that there are dials to amplify every quality of movement, focus and emotion and meditation.

Navigation is as simple as asking a question. Ahh, here is the debate of the creator. Can we ask a question of life and get an answer? People who have faced extreme life threatening challenges, say yes. Well yes is yes.

We can ask questions of life and get answers. Never mind that we believe it takes a life time to develop a relationship with life that allows us to ask or to listen for an answer. This is a matter of experience. Experiment with the experience, dare I say it, like a dancer delves into the rich qualities of experience.

Seriously, if we are a fresh creation every moment, isn’t it about time to stop beating around the (burning) bush and get into the business of participating with our life as it grows.

As the dancer knows, life takes attention, anticipation, sorting and discarding what is cumbersome,and of course being vulnerable enough to have fun with a mistake.

So for better or worse my creator is at work every millisecond and I might as well call life like it is. a dancer.

Oh and for all the takers of life, it is not easy and it is best to take those moments of silence that our ancestors treasured as ways to send and receive messages about our experience. It is also helpful to find others who love life to join us in preparing for encounters with the likes of the Christ who answers a question with a question about our empathy, our forgiveness, and our willingness to live a full life.

Outtakes:!?: What about the question if life is worth it, particularly if there is no creator to confer with for further encouragement. The courage of asking the question is sometimes left for the risk takers and the dancers who face their vulnerability in every part of their lives. And also, who is brave enough to ask if being without life is any less challenging on the other side than life is on this side? We might as well slow down our experiment and have fun with life. There is the challenge of real courage.
Tim Hurst 10/07/17

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Human or Transformer

When my grandson was a child I told him that when he became a man he would walk like a Transformer. As it turned out he has taken a liking to both Pilates that takes a malleable approach to movement and Weight Training that emphasizes the compression of building blocks in the body.

My interest is the way that the dancer weaves together the two worlds. The exercise and body therapy world has become fascinated with Structural Integration which I have experienced through the principles of dance and through the study of Craniosacral Therapy.

The premise is that the entire body is a network of interconnected fascia or soft tissue and this fascia acts as one elastic system that pulls the bones and organs into an efficient moving whole. This explains what the dancer and many body therapists know, that pain in one area of the body may be related to other areas of the body. See anatomytrains.com.

What fascinates me about Structural Integration is the dancer’s experience of balance and weight. Movement for the dancer is the springing of the entire body, an experience of fascia as a full body elasticity that requires a minimum of effort. The lines of fascia from head to toe are the study of the dancer who has developed an intricate understanding of the spiraling connections of muscles, tendons, and ligaments throughout the body.

The dancer’s study is to clarify the signals that travel through the fascial network. With dance, the movement of the body is a delicate interplay of both directing those signals and understanding the way signals move. The dance training process is the interplay of sending signals and integrating the signals into networks that increase awareness. A networked movement can then be called on as a way to increase awareness.

The dancer’s approach to balance is telling in this process. As the concepts of Structural Integration explain there is a continuous compression and expansion of the fascia to organize the movement of the bones.

The dancer brings this process to awareness. Each movement is not a forced compression of muscles to get to balance. Instead balance is millions of movements sensing the placement of bones and the continual adjustments of fascia within the entire body. All movement is thus connected no matter how subtle or how bold.

Dance is uniquely placed to understand this process involving also the integration of intention, anticipation, and emotion. This understanding of the way movement is directed and nurtured brought the dancer to the use of the image

The image gives a way to translate the orders and desires of the person into movement. To do this requires an understanding of the way our networks receive and integrate data from each part of the person.

Basic to communication is the ability to receive data in the way it is sent. A parallel is the way different personalities communicate, by attention and empathy. Forced and directed communication must operate in the context of the entire person. This process is what the dancer has grown into an art form using a combination of feeling and visualization in images.
Second is the understanding of patterns of movement. The dancer has trained movement patterns to integrate into the entire body. These patterns network the body’s fascia and also the communication networks of attention and empathy.

This process is not a static set of movements but rather networked movements that are continually adjusting to a refreshed human system of emotions, awareness, and empathy. This is the process of nature that begins with simple movement and adds one variation at a time so the system integrates a pattern that is both a renewing of what is known and a surprise of a new creation.

Each movement is an interaction of compression and expansion continually adjusting as well as the human self receiving and reforming the experience of known patterns and creations of continually expanding creations.

The monitor of all these processes is the human self. We have mistakenly looked to the abstract brain as what needs to be trained. The dancer has developed the perspective of training our experience that includes the physical body and also all the other aspects of the person.
Tim Hurst 10/06/17

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Whole Body Networking

Today I experiment with a macro view of the entire body moving at once.

Since signals of all kinds move through our bodies all the time, my question is how do dancers network the entire body as one unit with many divergent purposes and directions.

I take my exercise with hips on top of a small ball to loosen my hips. The goal is to lift and lower my legs feeling the heaviness of their weight and using a minimum amount of force. I feel a degree more freedom of movement in my hip joints in this exercise.

I have already discussed my discovery of the dancer’s use of weight as floating up as well as falling down. This image along with my own of the double helix seems to require little effort and increases my freedom of movement.

While moving my legs, I want to unify signals traveling through my entire body. Many variations happen within one dance class connecting movement of the legs and arms, the erect spine, and the head and neck.

First I make specific variations on my leg movements with bent and extended knee. I lower and raise my legs with whole leg and with specific parts such as ankle, arch, heel as I lower and raise my legs. I circle my legs in these different postures.

Then I add my arms extending as a semi-circle out from my body. With each movement of my legs I coordinate the arms out and in. This regulates my breath into an effortless inhale and exhale.

Dance continually trains the two way movement of energy through the spine and out the top of the head. My movements have a new lightness and ease as I send pulses of energy from different areas of the spine upwards and down through my feet. This engagement of the whole body is a different experience from moving only the legs. I feel more liveliness and more anticipation before each movement.

Adding variations of head and neck movement with each expansion of legs and arms became yet another experience. I especially liked my reminder to connect the top vertebra of the spine with a slight bobbing motion of the head. Doing this I relaxed my neck muscles around my spine and even my jaw before tilting or swiveling my head.

All this networking is essential to me with my tendency to clamp down my movements with extra tension. Establishing these networks of connections help me to move more freely and with less effort.
Tim Hurst 10/04/17

Pulsing my outer hip muscles engages the pelvic diaphragm