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Dancing Brightness

I am obsessed with the question of how the dancer enters a brightness of movement and attitude. The brightness permeates every move they make even when the emotions and intensity vary.

The brightness perpetuates itself in the movement, even in the preparation and completion of every movement. Stillness holds the same brightness as long as the dancer is engaged.

One simple movement captures my imagination, the basic principle of rising and lowering taught in most beginning dance classes. Using different words, the dancer connects two distinct experiences, lifting and spreading.

This can be understood by tracing the dancer’s approach to each area of the body. As with other activities, breathing is a process of lifting and spreading the rib cage as the air rushes in and eases out. The feet lift from beneath the arch in a rise and spread to lower for another action. The legs and arms rise and spread in alternate movement of lifting and lowering. The pelvic diaphragm initiates a lift in the spine then spreads to support a lowering of the spine. The three dimensional area connected to the solar plexus lifts the upper spine and the spreads the upper torso. The top vertebra, the atlas, lifts the top of the spine and spreads the supporting muscles with gentle movement of the second vertebra, the axis. The face, the nasal cavities, and the brain rise with energy from the spine spreading to exit from the top of the head.

The dancer connects all of these different lifting and spreading motions and creates networks that can be accessed with simple commands.

So how does brightness relate to these networks of lifting and spreading? The sensation of continuous movement may be uplifting in itself. Bill Reidler of the Global Relationship Network would say if you are depressed look up and show your teeth. The action itself does not work but there is a moment of being uplifted. The dancer studies this moment in depth.

Something about continuous movement relates to anticipation of the next rise and fall. Then there is the connectivity of one rise and fall leading to and coordinating with another rise and fall. The body brain is engaged in the forming and reforming of these connections.

When the brain is fully engaged we identify total experiences like “falling in love” and spiritual ecstasy. The brightness could be the moment by moment hope of this kind of falling and rising.

Another question is, how do the movements of rising and falling relate to action and rest, formation and reflection, building and pruning.

Each of these is a form of continuous rising energy that the spreads beyond itself. We might find help in a broader view.

Dance training may be a process of rejuvenation. The basic principle is like the rising and falling of our breathing. Like the sound wave and the light wave, our movement may also rejuvenate and perpetuate itself. The characteristic of rising and falling is that they are continuous even at the transition points, at the peaks of the waves. There are many other characteristics like the variation of quality, intensity, and speed. These variations continually engage the body brain in exploring new territory that requires action and reflection, specific focus of energy and release of energy.

Could dance be a process of gaining access to every area of the body brain and psyche for a unified experience of movement and reflection?
Tim Hurst 12/31/17

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Dance Binary Basics

Dance and music are unique realms of study. They train the body to experience three simple processes.

The first process is a way to distinguish one experience from another. The simplest element of both dance and music is the distinguishing of short from long. Both begin with long extended movements or sounds. Both learn to mix short movements or sounds with the long. This is the basic binary learning that becomes an experience of the entire person creating and responding to movement and sound.

Another is to connect one experience to another. As in music each sound and each rhythm is a part of a phrase. The connecting of one sound to the other is built on a detailed study of the curve. A curve in dance and music bends down and bends up. The experience is of a series of loops that blend separate elements into a whole. Notes that appear all alone create a different experience than notes that connect in a phrase. The same is true with dance. A single movement by itself becomes a different experience than a movement phrase. The dancer and the musician learn to think in phrases of connected elements. This again is binary learning that is easily integrated in body brain networks.

The other is to play with simple variations that define a new experience. This is the process of discovery by experimenting with a combination of elements. This is the essence of curiosity and creation. In dance a beginning movement is to lower and rise called in Ballet the plié. This movement combined with articulation of the feet and coordination of the entire body becomes a jump or a skip or a leap. Each movement is a different experience that came from combining simple variations to the plié.
Tim Hurst. 12/28/17

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What’s a Child to a Dancer?

There are many delights in my life. One of the greatest is experiencing a child dancing. My delight is the child totally engaged, no other thought, no other focus. As an adult I have to slow myself down enough to really receiving this kind of engagement.

I have to experience their delight as a new state like none other I have experienced before. Like many dancers, the child is moving through many states, experiencing them, playing with them, trying them out in many different ways until they discover a new state.

I am trying to just juggle a few states to pull them together so I have to stop and breathe to accept the constant flow of information that the child is mirroring right into me. I accept that mirroring and follow it both along with the child and within myself connecting up my experiences with it.

My experience of dancers experimenting and performing is the same. I take a deep breath and slow myself down enough to accept the immense flow of information through each dancer.

Each of us as dancers goes through different stages of focusing on the flow from state to state and going back to sort through the moments of delight and doubt that represent us as unique and as a part of the mirroring we participate in.

We get caught in one phase or another and that is why we go to a teacher or a choreographer to help with the sorting and the cleaning of ourselves so we choose what is the clearest representation of our experiences.

So when I experience a dancer individually or as a group, I look first for their flow of delight that I know from slowing down with a child. The clues are if they discover a new part of themselves and allow me to see that in their dancing.

This is my second greatest delight, to be a witness of a dancer becoming a new person right then and there. That process takes courage to put every part of themselves on the line. To even begin to see that, I have to also put myself there ready to be changed as we mirror each other’s experience in the moment.

That is another level. The dancer and the audience mirror each other’s experience. That means the moment is being transformed by the curiosity and courage of each person present. Could be that is why we are mystified that no two performances are the same even with the same dancers and the same audience.

So I take a deep breath, call up what little courage I can and enter a space that is unique to dancers willing to show everything they are. That space is a toggle between two kinds of engaging, vulnerability and acceptance. The opening of all the stops is vulnerability which is essential to a dancer. The willingness to send all the power available through the body is acceptance. Vulnerability is recognizing doubt and anticipating a fully engaging experience. Accepting is claiming this statement as oneself at this moment taking full responsibility for the experience of mirroring that is taking place.

The child is the example. There is complete vulnerability and complete responsibility. There is no quibble about being loved or unloved, about there being a God or no God, about being skilled enough or approved enough. There is only total commitment and not to prove anything but to be a completely new something.

So I recognize how vulnerable I am and pull my total self into a slow space of being able to accept what will come through me. I am audience and I love this moment.

I see the dancer and the choreographer toggle between delight and doubt, between acceptance and vulnerability, between the known and the unknown. And what I commit to our mirroring process is anticipation of the toggle that will bring more engagement that may result in something subtle or something bold. Always I look toward the curiosity of the dancer for accepting those moments as representations of them selves, refreshed, renewed, recreated.
Tim Hurst 10/23/17

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Dancer Truth

Dancer truth is very simply the image from which a movement emerges.

The movement is my summation of myself at a moment in time and space.

The movement is the replication of my strands of experience, genetic and situational, that have formed the person I see, feel, and interact with.

With my personal movement I set in motion an infinite range of molecular transitions within all humans and all life in my vicinity.

To discover truth I only have to experience my own movement as it interconnects with other life.

Yet there are the hasty ways I summarize myself to satisfy many yearnings. Illusion and deception are their own set of skills.

What can I do? I watch the dancer experiment with vast realms of truth. I follow a kind of protocol for their experiments.

The dancer confers with the nature of the human and finds experience skills. First engage all resources, all human systems, all the ways of interconnecting internally and externally. Second, make peace with the unknowns where surprises are created. Third begin with the simplest movement of all these resources and combine their simple connections into networks of connections. Fourth, sort the variations of connections by rhythm and melody. Fifth, slow everything down so you can insert images that can be replicated in every cell within and outside the human system. Sixth, openly interact with other life to modify the summations of movements.

Yet there is still the prevalence of illusion and a taste for hasty compilations of my self. Trite solutions that are harmful to self and others can proliferate. I study the dancer who trains their focus to work within the illusion. They develop an agility to move between narrow task centered focus and a broad interconnected focus.

The illusion can be turned in minute degrees to get different perspectives and to reveal not only choices being made but also where the illusion began to take hold of the the human system.
Using an agile alternating focus, the dancer goes deep within the self to create new movements, rhythms, a song that reflects the emerging self.

Yet I may still hold on to a reluctance to yield a unified response to the emerging movement song. This is what the human calls “a bottom.” There is no alternative than to ask for a clear pathway.

Who to ask is both critical and negligible. I will ask trusted friends who may side with me. I will ask my creator or my personal guide to the creator of all life. I may ask into a silence of complete unknowing. The dancer asks within the movement, slowing down everything to listen carefully. This is where I begin and end.

Simply asking within the self will bring perspective for the person who is agile in interconnections and in focus skills. Yet like the insistent person in prayer, asking must be persistent and tested repeatedly.

I must ask over and over, “Is this true?” The responses come from every corner of myself with a unity that is undeniable and irresistible. The results are rejuvenating and not depleting. The results are helpful and not harmful.

Expending energy is a complete experience of total engagement. I respond with all myself and meets head on both the initial fear of so much power within me and also all the doubts and self criticism that follow. There is an immediate bounce back of life within and outside my self..

A truth has become another song, another movement.
Tim Hurst 09/14/17