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Dance the Pelvic Floor

My quest is to experience how the dancer is able to do so many complicated actions at once.

Identifying and isolating the slightest adjustments of the pelvic floor are a specific focus on sensations and awareness. I try to catch a glimpse of this focus as the daily attention of the dancer.

An alternating focus is the use of signals and imagery to create communication networks throughout the entire body.

Below I outline an experiment to interconnect signals from the pelvic floor through the legs and feet. The image of a signal contracting the outside of the hips travels instantly through the legs and feet. The experiment becomes varying the pathways, speed, and quality of the movements affected by the signal.

I also experiment with the beginnings of a network connecting the pelvic floor to the muscles of the lower back, the erectors and the large muscles above the pelvis called the quadratus lumborum. These are the lower back muscles that store lots of tension and require detailed stretching and strengthening.

I vary the pathway of signals coming from the undulations of the pelvic floor, side to side as well as lifting and loosening. The pathways can be lines or curved signals.

Ballet dancers use signals that cross the body in the shape of an “X.” These signals connect left and right side and simplify networks. I experiment with this image by initiating signals from the pelvic floor connecting simple lines to the lower back. The pathway of the signals can be directly up the sides of the spine or crossing the body as in an “X,” or counter rotation as in facing the pelvis and body in different directions.

Rather than becoming more complex, creating an image instantly sends signals throughout my body via interconnecting networks. My search is to build these networks and to vary the types and qualities of signals that move through me.

Searching for how dancers master the subtleties of the pelvic floor.

Continual balancing motion
Lifting and lowering of pelvic floor
Sensation is lifting and loosening pelvic floor almost as an inhale and exhale of the muscle

Rise and lowering in walk, in plié and releve, in spin and turn
Undulations of the lower spine

Continual undulation motion of both sides of the pelvic floor.
Isolation of left and right sides of the pelvic floor.
Connection to muscles attaching at the spine
Sensation is lifting and loosening of each side of the pelvic floor.

Continual Lateral contraction and loosening of the entire surface of the pelvic floor.
Begin contraction at sides of hip just below the protruding hip bones on each side.
Loosen and broaden the entire surface.
Connect at the spine as central point of the pelvic floor.

Extension and stretching of the legs and feet
Articulation of hips, knees, and feet in varied placement and roll through as in Ballet and Latin Ballroom and Social Dancing

All that a dancer does sounds complicated as I describe the detail I have to go through to understand their process. This complexity disappears on the first day of dance class as a dance teacher breaks down the kinesiology, mathematics, geometry, physics, psychology, and spirituality of dancing. Dancers are the masters of simplicity because they build networks of imagery and commands that interrelate the entire body. Dance classes are the capsules we have to learn their process of beginning with the simplest movement and developing a complexity that require volumes of words to describe.
Tim Hurst 05/04/17

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Three Dimension Dancer

What I see in the dancer is the agility to move any part of the body in any direction. Any movement is vibrant from the front, the back, the side. Their movement is three dimensional.

I want to experience these kind of movements that instantly go through the body vertically and also horizontally. Ballet dancers are trained to send signals from feet through the top of the head. They are more subtlety trained to experience the horizontal planes called diaphragms.

With one set of experiments I explore seven diaphragms. One diaphragm is called the pelvic floor. From a basic introduction to Ballet, I am to keep the pelvic floor level and not tilted side to side. The description is “do not lift your hip when moving your legs.” The sensation is of the entire concave surface connecting with the spine and attaching to every edge of my body. The motion is continual undulations to maintain a balance of side to side and front to back tilts.

I experience this balance of a level pelvic floor as I use my legs and take a step in any direction. The more expansive my movements, the more opportunity I have to be aware and adjust my pelvic floor to be in balance.

Another purpose of the pelvic floor is the actions to “lift up” and to “send energy up your spine.” Lifting the pelvic floor is a natural motion to be erect and to maintain balance.

I experiment by lifting my pelvic floor to initiate movement. This gives me the sensation of lifting and also the incentive to remember to engage the muscles connecting around my spine and to the edges of my hips.

Another action is the expansion and contraction of the entire pelvic floor. This is a simple action of pulling the two sides of the hips inwards and releasing them.

The grande plié is a perfect practice as I pull the outer hips inwards to rise then release and expand the hips while lowering. (This activates the psoas muscles connected to the lumbar spine that send signals to the inner thigh, ankle, and feet muscles.)

These experiments help me to build awareness and communication with the pelvic floor. My adjustments become an experience rather than commands to “lower my hip” or to “pull my stomach to my spine.”

Ballet is the master study of simplifying the signals that interact with this constant balancing motion. The goal is to be able to focus on balance and then shift the focus to the entire body experiencing the sensation of balance.

The experience is an instant ease of motion coming from one diaphragm. I ride on top of this horizontal floor that responds to any adjustment I make as I move in any direction, twist and turn, rise and fall. My legs respond to any adjustment and move freely as springs rather than weight bearers.
Tim Hurst. 05/03/17

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Balance Dancing

As I experiment with dance each day, I feel a specific type of signal that comes through every movement. The feeling is subtle. I will move with the awareness that millions of signals are at play to develop internal balance and to grow a clarity of myself and my movement. It came from my study with Deborah Hay and later work with Contact Improvisation and Alexander Technique.

Deborah had us fall down on the floor, rise quickly to the metatarsal of one foot, with both arms raised and pointing two fingers of each hand up. We were to be in this raised position for as long as possible and then fall down. How long we repeated this motion I do not remember.

The immediacy of this sequence, the openness of the results, the tactile sensations of falling and rising. Everything insisted that I enter with all myself and play with each variation I found in my balance, my emotion, my trust in myself.

The principle Deborah uses is that every cell has an intelligence and in this case every cell understands balance. We only pay attention to that intelligence at work and follow wherever it leads.

With Steve Paxton I first experienced my body in a balanced pose laying over another person. This was my introduction to Contact Improvisation and the feeling of balancing on one shared point with another person.

The balance point between two of us was like floating and included so many experiences. Now working with the image of signals, there were millions of signals at once delightfully playing in that single moment of balance.

Studying Alexander Technique with Sumi Komo brought this feeling inside my body. The image of an egg balancing is so elusive yet I came to feel balance points in my feet, at different points in my spine, and with my head bobbing on top of my spine.

Today I imagine every movement as this kind of converging of signals toward balance. At first it seemed complicated but like the balance point in Contact Improvisation, the focus is singular and all the playful signals organize around an area or a shifting point.

All of these experiences I combine into one image of “being in the balance.” Returning to this image with every movement seems to reorganize something in myself. I often feel very vulnerable. At these moments of approaching balance, I feel the challenge of balancing self doubt with clarity of movement.

Well there I am, “in the balance”. By experiencing the vulnerability of balancing signals in my movement, I arrive at a moment of curiosity about myself approaching balance. Subtle maybe but very real to me as I go through my day. Reorganization of myself requires attention and yet allows the balancing forces to work.

This is the lesson I had to learn in ballet, to keep the movement going and allow the balance and the strength to work itself to a steady point.

It seems that being aware has two kinds of focus, one focus on the overall process of the signals working toward clarity and balance. Another focus is on the specific signals to move from point to point.

So my next practice is to take each area of my body and explore the experience of being in the balance. To review, that means to me that I will move with the awareness that millions of signals are at play to develop internal balance and to grow a clarity of myself and my movement.
Tim Hurst 04/25/17

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Balance Signals Continuous

I am curious about the adjustments we make throughout the body for balance. In Ballet class I slowly gained confidence to allow a wobble to become what my body needed to balance. I remember many Modern Dance classes when I would locate my most vulnerable places of being out of balance and play with holding a balance. I took a Balance Class for Seniors at Ballet Austin experimenting with the connection of balance to vision, body position, and doing more than one task at a time.

I studied Alexander Technique that compared a human balancing with an egg balancing on its tip. My understanding is that there is not a balance point but a continual adjustment or modification to stay in a balanced pose.

As I experiment with balance, I wonder if every movement is some kind of wobbly stage that becomes more secure. And what does this wobbly stage have to do with coming to balance?

And how would I change my experience of balance from the point of view of signals?

I am aware of a single signal from the center spine traveling up and out the top of the head. Also the continuation of the signal beyond the body as an image for lifting the body. Equal and opposite signals come from the center spine to activate the legs.

Alexander Technique trains specific signals from the spine between the shoulder blades. These fan like signals can initiate a lift in the torso to support balance using the legs. Also signals to the vertebrae at the base of the spine can help to relax the neck and lift the head in any rise to balance.

My goal is to learn how dancers train all these signals to work as a network that are initiated from a single point or points.
Tim Hurst 04/15/17