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Dance Trains the Spine

Dance trains each area of the spine to command horizontal and vertical signals. Two principles seem to be that each section of vertebra engage the nearest part of the body, and that each section networks with other parts of the spine to interconnect the entire body.

My search is for a simple way to engage myself in movement physically, emotionally, and intentionally. The building blocks to simplicity seems to be signals originating at the spine.

With one simple image of a signal connecting an entire area of the body, I can bypass all my thinking about which muscles need to move and which muscles are restricting movement.

Rather than two separate intentions of sending signals and receiving feedback, the spine becomes the instantaneous sender and receiver of information.

Dancers learn this simplicity in the process of a detailed study of movement engaging the entire body at once. I had to go through the back door to understand this simplicity that becomes apparent to the serious dancer.

A common dance image is to send energy from the feet up through the body and out the top of the head. This is one signal. The signal can be varied to activate each area of the body as it rises. The signal can even go beyond the feet to ground the body or beyond the head to extend the sense of lengthening the muscles.

My clue for understanding horizontal signals was the ease of raising the arms in Ballet. The dancer describes the signal coming from the spine between the shoulder blades, traveling under and around the arms, lifting the forearms, and continuing through the fingers of each hand. As the fingers of each hand approach each other, the signals continue making an energetic connection between each finger. A spreading movement of the arms emphasizes the returning signal to the spine.

The signals in each area of the spine travel to every edge of the body, front, back, and side. I loosely refer to these areas as diaphragms because they are interconnected tissue of all kinds muscular, neurological, vascular, Limbic, and glandular.

This is only the beginning of training this area of the spine that I refer to as the dancer’s diaphragm. Signals are varied to spread and raise the arms while maintaining this energetic circle within the arms. The signals are clearly only for the arms allowing the shoulders and neck to be supportive but not fully engaged.

The training extends the range of the spinal area with slight twists, and the rolling of each vertebra forward and back. Engaging these muscles around each vertebra requires specific training to bend and slide horizontally in each direction.

Using these upper vertebra as an example, the next step of learning is to network the signals from this area with other areas of the spine. Networking signals means that the vertebral areas are interconnected through both sending and receiving signals.

The breathing diaphragm, attaching at the lower vertebra of the rib cage, networks signals to the dancer’s diaphragm. The signals are spreading,suspending, and releasing that correspond to breathing.

Receiving signals from the breathing diaphragm, the dancer’s diaphragm opens the upper chest and the back to allow breath into the upper lungs. The arms in any position receive sensations of these spreading and suspending signals.

Signals to the dancer’s diaphragm also network to the pelvic diaphragm. The pelvic diaphragm engages the lower vertebra connecting the support from the inner legs, ankles, and feet. Lifting the pelvic diaphragm also sends signals to the erector muscles along the spine that contribute to the sensation of lifting and spreading throughout the entire back as well as the chest and neck areas.

The lowering and spreading of the pelvic diaphragm also sends releasing signals to the breathing and the dancer’s diaphragms to support the sensations of suspension and continuous lowering.

The value of networking is so all these interconnections can happen at once with the least amount of directed commands. The access to each vertebral,area gives the opportunity to monitor and respond specifically to the areas that need adjustment or support.
See also Spinal Imagery
Tim Hurst 01/23/18

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Enter Healing States

Today I am challenged by my illness and my body wants to lay down and cry. Everything wants to tense around the internal hurt of a compromised bladder.

As usual I begin to move and immediately shift to a dance state. How are all those grungy feelings erased? They change as I raise and lower through my entire body and as I rotate around my spine in every possible variation.

My focus shifts between my whole body with all its emotion and specific areas like the pelvic diaphragm that alternately expands and lifts. I use a simple pressure point on the side of each hip to encourage this movement.

Then I shift the double helix image into vertical and horizontal placements to keep a gentle rotation going while I focus on the nurture of specific areas.

In healing, I have to keep reminding myself to receive signals as much as I send them. My eyes are the best teachers for receiving, releasing, and refreshing myself. The eyes naturally receive images except we direct and focus our eyes to match our desire to push toward more.

When I relax my eyes and slowly follow a hand or follow a tilt of my spine, I experience a refreshed lift in my attention and in my hope for the next moment. Then as I allow my eyes to circle in an opposite direction from my facing palms, the movement is calm and releasing to the muscles of my eyes and to my breath.

The healing state is one of receiving strength, hope, care, and joy. I experience the dance state as a methodical process of entering the healing state.
Tim Hurst 12/08/17

An explanatory view.
I enter Healing states to experience movement as agile, supple, and supportive to my entire body. The basic principle of connecting body and brain is to move slowly. Signals with in my body will move at lightning speed yet my attention is on slowing everything down. Slower means more integration of healing signals and more ability to receive healing signals.

Whether I use the defined center spine movement of Ballet, the counter rotations of Tai Chi and Chi Gong, or the spinning of the child and the Sufi, I enter a healing state.

For me this is a dance state trained to access every section of the body horizontal and vertical. The dance state interconnects all the body sections while setting up networks of signals between them.

Especially for healing it is important to not only build connections but be able to receive signals through those connections. Instead of pushing the body with a singular focus, it becomes important to receive strength, to receive the warnings and the care offered, and receiving the joy that comes from entering the dance state.

The moment I begin dancing I feel my emotion and body join. I anticipate the next movement, the next insight as a precious surprise to be nurtured and shaped. My hope is to respond to the calls for help and for celebration from every aspect of myself.
Tim Hurst 12/08/17

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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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Brain Body 2X Helix

Today I felt the image process of replicating a double helix in my movement. For the first time I experienced the Chi Gong healing movement of counter rotation following the shape of the double helix. The figure eights of the head and eyes along with the hips travel up and down my body imitating a helix spiral. With palms facing my arms move across my body in counter rotation with the unity of head and hips rotating in the opposite way. The counter rotation is the double helix that meet at one crossing point at the body center in front of me. This crossing point moves slowly up my body and culminates at the peak of my reach overhead. My hands then fall caressing the air on either side of the helix until my hands hang at the sides of my body preparing to rise into another wave motion.

What the experience meant to me was the importance of a macro view of a structure through my entire self.

I experienced the importance of an image being energy and the shape of lines or bands or cloud like vortexes being a quality that I vary. With a micro view I am also varying the speed and the willingness to allow continuous motion to flood me with a fully engaged perceptual experience.

I experienced the importance of the image as a structure that is in continuous motion connecting and reconnecting all of myself. With a macro view I allow all my entire self to join in the continuous motion that brings me into the fully engaged perceptual experience.

I experience the image as a continuous motion internally to externally as well as the opposite externally to internally. My ballet teachers constantly remind me that signals must go down through the feet and through the floor to access the power of rising whether it be a small movement or a leap into the air. Likewise the landing of the lowering is not a crash but a continuation of the lowering of each cell in anticipation of the rising.

This moment by moment shift of micro and macro imagery is integral to the experience of dance no matter my states of awareness. It is what gives the quality of my movement an equal attention to weight in the springing upwards, the floating downward, and the landing in preparation for another spring. This is the dance study of a balance of force at each point of a movement.

The importance of the absolute slowest rate of motion becomes more apparent. My focus wants to skip in order to take everything in at once. Heloise Gold as dancer and Tai Chi Master have taught me that I can train myself to experience the coordination of slow motion of the eyes with slow motion of each part of my body. The Chi Gong healing movement is what I return to often.

Like the wave motion of lowering anticipating the rise and rising to a peak anticipating the lowering, I experience the expansion and contraction like the wave of my breathing. It is the attention on breathing that many meditation techniques and forms of yoga use to experience the wave motion within all the senses.

I experimented with taking my experience of the double helix in this healing movement into a spinning motion used by the Sufi as a form of communication with God. I simply took myself into a slow spin with the semi- circle of my hips to the back. My head and eyes followed my hips while my arms were in counter rotation to the opposite direction. I combined two traditions of entering full engagement of my entire self. The busyness of the multiple movements easily become a full person experience from a macro view.

To shift my spin to the opposite direction, I rotate my hips in a back semi-circle to the new direction, follow with my head and eyes. My arms, palms facing, moving in figure eights across my body. My arms move upwards and downwards imitating the crossing of a double helix.

A visceral experience of the double helix occurs when I stop spinning. This is a favorite movement of children who have discovered the connection of cells in the brain and body within the spin. Stopping the spin, the entire body perception is equalizing and the double helix experience is waves of crossing and recrossing energy.
Tim Hurst 09/30/17