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Dancer Vulnerability

What fascinates me about dancers is not so much the process of perfection but the day by day vulnerability. Every class is applying the insights from yesterday to a personal set of changing bodily and emotional needs. The demands are a heightened sense of attention, focus, and awareness. And every day is different.

I have put my self in the middle of that vulnerability. First by beginning ballet as an adult with many physical limitation. Lately I decided to enter the ultimate unsettling experience of taking an advanced ballet class with dance teachers and students I admire.

My intent is kind of like riding as a passenger with a professional race car driver. I will not be able to grasp the level of skill of the driver, but I will be in the middle of their experience. After a few times, I calm myself to be able to sort through the blur of directions and movements.

Whenever I can, I sit and watch dance classes. Having tried the professional’s class, I have been in the ultimate vulnerability so I can begin to understand the courage each dancer has in going into a class pushing their limits physically and emotionally.

What is valuable is my experience of the professional’s uplifted focus and willingness to commit to the slowest and the fastest movement sequences. With my experience of the musicality of melody and rhythm, I am able to observe how each individual approaches movement just a little differently.

Mainly I am surrounded with so much inner delight. Each dancer in the class is at a different skill level and they are fully committed to enter that much vulnerability for new insights on their experience. I am in awe of each person there.
Tim Hurst 09/26/17

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My Inhale Walk

My walk today was in 95 degree noon day sun. I had to take a slower pace to savor the shade and not push too hard in the sun. Already needing a nap and needing to eat as well, I had to find ways to rejuvenate my energy.

My eyes were being shocked as I moved from shade to sun. I began rejuvenating my eyes in the shaded areas. Allowing my focus to wander through the flickering light of tree leaves calmed me and my eyes were being kind of rocked in the light cool breeze.

When I moved into the hot sunlight, my eyes would go into a rest state as if they were riding the cool breeze of the shade I can just left behind.

To rejuvenate myself, I slowed the pace of my body into an easy rise and fall along with my breathing. Then I realized that even with a slow overall body speed, my feet were speeding up to get to the next patch of shade.

I slowed my feet by catching the weight of my legs in a rise and then releasing their weight into a fall. Even the arches of my feet took this easy rise and fall pace. My breathing was heavy but deep and easy. I wonder if the air drafts under an airplanes wings were this kind of catching weight upwards and then weight lowering through air drafts when the craft slows.

A clear sensation began to form. Each cell of my body opened in anticipation of the next inhale. I felt like a ballon with trillions of air sacks to lift me as I walked in this slow rising and falling rhythm.

My study of dance came clear. Ballet lowering and rising is the experience of opening every cell for the next inhale. The visceral anticipation opens my curiosity to the next moment of fun and interconnection. The nutrients and oxygen on the way is a kind of reward for the hope I hold before me. All I can think of is to ask for the delight of my next breath.

Finding a deep shade on the sidewalk, I completely yield to a dance of following energy curves in multiple directions and shapes. I bank and dive into roller coaster curves with ever so slight and unnoticeable dances.
Tim Hurst 09/20/17

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Dancing the Upside

My play today is with the upside. My teacher, Deborah Hay gave direction for the plié, ” The down is the up. And the up is the down.”

This is a definition of the sine wave. The upward motion contains the momentum and the energy of the downward. The downward motion contains the momentum and energy of the upward.

My emotion and sensation is anticipation and curiosity both approaching the top and the bottom of the curve. Within me is both the delight of life and a kind of responsibility to embrace each wave with willingness.

Here is the place of my dance today. My study is to rise with the breath instantly filling every vessel, every organ, every cell. Toe to head and every millimeter between becomes a sack that fills with oxygen. The whole of me is also in an easy gentle rotation imaging multiple winding helix simultaneously spiraling upwards and downwards.

My body rises with the oxygen filling me. My pelvic diaphragm lifts, my Lung Diaphragm spreads, my Dancer’s Diaphragm behind my solar plexis rotates open, the oxygen opens my cranial base and frees my top vertebra to balance my bobbing head, my Singer’s Diaphragm opens my soft palate reminding me of the slow and gentle third eye and the meditator’s fourth ventricle at the back of my head.

My entire body is filling and with ease extending in all directions beyond my own boundaries. My internal image of a winding helix is participating in the extension not only upwards and outwards but also downwards.

The energy of the spiraling helix is simply upwards and downwards at the same time.

This is not an abstract motion. This is the motion of anticipating something I love, an embrace, holding a child, riding a bicycle. This is the lifting beyond my self and at the same time connecting down within myself. This is the balance of exuberance and personal joy. This is the meeting of people, animal, and plants. This is my reaching to receive the gifts of my creator, Life.

Returning to my practice and experiment of rising with and through my breath, I come face to face with my willingness. The renewed life from the oxygen is both delightful and overwhelming. I have a choice, to force the breath through willful direction or to embrace each breath as a new creation.

The process of life is vast. The repetitive simple inhale and exhale opens and connects every part of myself. With each repetition, my cells die and are replaced with fresh new cells. The circumstance has changed.

My choice is to embrace the extension as both upwards and downwards or to attempt to force myself into one direction. If I choose to only extend outwards then I limit myself to brittleness. If I choose to instead fall into the downward nature of the curve, I will also limit myself and clasp my fists around anything to stabilize my fall.
My willingness is literally embracing the life that is filling me. If I do this slowly in the preparation for my dance, I have access to trillions of minute variations and qualities of moving and being. Any circumstance will be a place to extend beyond and within myself at the same time.
Tim Hurst 09/22/17

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Dance Practice

Each moment is a kind of balance point in my life. My experience of life in that balance point is one of rising and falling, a kind of wave to ride. If I am at a malleable, agile place in my brain and body, then I accept the rise and I enter the falling.

My daily practice of dance is a sharpening of my agility to accept and enter those moments in everything I do.

The tools I use in this practice are the principles of dance as melodic, rhythmic, and experimentally varied. The languages of dance I seek to learn are first signals that are instantaneous and networked with systems connecting brain and body. Second aspect of the language of dance are images that I seek to simplify so that they amplify and clarify the signals.

The way I inform my practice is to understand in my own body the experiments and multiple ways dancers apply these principles and adapt these languages to their own unique body brain networks.

One way dancers experience is through an intimate understanding of the diaphragms of the body. I see how the dancer uses the diaphragms and I try to break down their training techniques into specific interactive steps. I also try to simplify imagery that gives me ways to apply the many actions the dance teacher introduces in each dance class.

I am aware that my observations and experiments are to some degree unique to myself. My goal is that dancers grasp the overall goals of dance teachers and gather from them an experience of awareness and imagery that can be applied to themselves as dancers and as a person.
Tim Hurst 08/31/17