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What’s a Dancer Do?

I stand in the presence of dancers in awe of the worlds that they experience every day. Not that dancers are different from anyone else. It just the level and quality of their experience touches me.

In my rough understanding of mathematics, there is this elegance of binary shifts that balances everything. Dance is not only shifts in the intricacies of physical experience but also shifting between different levels of focus and an agility to move between different dimensions.

My search then is to experience all those different kinds of shifts. I choose Ballet as a starting point because of its completeness as a discipline and because I come as a relatively fresh beginner. My love of metaphor gives me a perspective on the detailed use of imagery in Ballet. Flights of fantasy I try to reserve for my poetry yet I will push the patience of the experienced dancer. In any case, I hope my experiments raise questions and maybe even alternate responses from dancers both beginners and professionals.

My belief is that dance instruction challenges each dancer to build a composite of imagery that fits their body and their personal learning style. I explore what that composite is for me.

What drives me to experiment, even as I venture into many ambiguous areas, is the delight and exuberance I see in dancers from the toddler to the professional. I see a brightness that inevitably gives their bodies a sense of springing. I see an agility to change directions physically as well as in thought and emotion. I see their bodies as an integrated network, connecting and reconnecting every moment. I see the inner workings of curiosity based on anticipation, experimentation, and surprise. And most of all I see the formation of a growing self with a new hypothesis every moment.

Needless to say, I am inspired by dance and by dancers.

I can not leave out what is most important. When I watch dancers preparing for a class or a performance, I see the attention of a dedicated yogi. The dancers meditative focus is light and malleable while attending to the detail of how their body is working that day. It seems that within every part of dance training there is built in injury prevention.

I want to experience that agility to direct my body while listening to every nuance of sensation and information from every part of myself.
Tim Hurst 07/13/17

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Dance Experiemnt Goals

A current summary of my goals for daily experiments.

I experience dancers as models of agility who experiment daily with a range of variations for specific results in skill, attention, focus, and exuberance for learning.

I want to experience how the dancer can access every part of the body brain.

I want to experience the dancer’s curiosity and surprise with each set of variations.

I want to discover how dancer’s build signal networks throughout the body.

I want to experience signals as instantaneous connections that build networks throughout my body.

I want the agility to vary the qualities of signals as bundles of physicality, emotion, sensation, perception, and rejuvenation.

I want the agility to alternate my focus between a micro and a macro view within every system of myself.

Likewise I want the agility to direct my self formation and also to release my attention to interconnections too complex for the body brain to conceptualize.

I want to experience continuous movement as forming myself in relation to other life.

I want the agility to apply imagery as a way to shape the forming of myself.

I want to experience my movement as melody and rhythm to build ongoing synopsis and markers of my growth.
Tim Hurst 07/31/17

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Pelvic Floor Test

Test one, A ballet class for teachers way beyond my level. I want to see and feel the difference, to experience being in the middle of greatness grown over a life time.

Of course I was inept, searching, following key people. In the later part of the barre my frappe was very small and feeling the rhythm more than doing the movement.

Oh yes, the pelvic floor test. I expanded my focus to the whole body out of necessity. Did not feel or direct the pelvic floor. The awareness of a broadness was there, definitely a floor all the way through my body to the outer edges.

Signals easily passed into my standing leg as the other leg worked outwards. Develope and extensions felt more certain even with my limited agility.

What I did feel in a more full way was the rhythm and the melody as a context of every movement. Watching the center work my body grew a voracious appetite for the delight of melding personality and melody into dance.

Of course the beauty of each person had to be meshed with the struggle between clarity and error. So I saw the “I am not enough” yearning of the experienced dancer reaching for more.

Dear dancer, It is always an honor to be in the presence of your courageous process. You are a delight to experience in the rough and in the polish.
Tim Hurst 05/06/17

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Dance Signals Soft

How can my experience of the movement change when I choose a soft or subtle quality for the signal? I want to try varying signal qualities such as intensity, emphasis, and amount of force.

I find myself directing and wanting to force all my movements. Then I move into a different world all together. Soft, gentle, or subtle are a challenge. There are as many different approaches as there are dancers. What is it for me?

My first attempts are to move slower but a fast movement can also be soft. I remember to bring the qualities of curiosity, anticipation, and receiving the signal of softness as well as sending. Playing with weight I can vary the quality of softness from heavy yet buoyant like a buoy and floating like a balloon.

I want to try a new image. What if my signals were not direct but were a bursting array of signals? The only image that comes is a waterfall with trillions of different size drops, mist, and lots of sound.

Sending signals from the spine is clear yet I remember Deborah Hay describing sending energy through the Solar Plexis. This image gave me a completely different experience and I can vary the amount of power I use from subtle to bold.

Nina Martin describes sending multiple signals in her study of Rewiring the body. The process is to send many random signals from the spine to all areas of the body. My movement becomes responsive, loose, and unplanned.

Applying this process to soft movement is to send many signals covering a wide area of the body. I can not “think” that many signals and my body gives in to a quality of softness.

For another experiment, I send many signals on pathways with loops and spirals, allowing them to go where they will. My movement is my central focus with the awareness that all the complexity of emotion and sensation can be carried in so much variety.

The way Deborah Hay describes this process is paying attention to trillions of cells at once, each with their own intelligence, perception, and pathways.

Once I have explored all these signals, moving with softness is different and may require only a memory of my self navigating moment by moment from decisive to reflection, from force to ease. Images can occur on their own or be brought up when needed.

Now it is time to receive all this in a Ballet reverence.
Tim Hurst. 04/07/17