Posted on

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

Posted on

Human or Transformer

When my grandson was a child I told him that when he became a man he would walk like a Transformer. As it turned out he has taken a liking to both Pilates that takes a malleable approach to movement and Weight Training that emphasizes the compression of building blocks in the body.

My interest is the way that the dancer weaves together the two worlds. The exercise and body therapy world has become fascinated with Structural Integration which I have experienced through the principles of dance and through the study of Craniosacral Therapy.

The premise is that the entire body is a network of interconnected fascia or soft tissue and this fascia acts as one elastic system that pulls the bones and organs into an efficient moving whole. This explains what the dancer and many body therapists know, that pain in one area of the body may be related to other areas of the body. See anatomytrains.com.

What fascinates me about Structural Integration is the dancer’s experience of balance and weight. Movement for the dancer is the springing of the entire body, an experience of fascia as a full body elasticity that requires a minimum of effort. The lines of fascia from head to toe are the study of the dancer who has developed an intricate understanding of the spiraling connections of muscles, tendons, and ligaments throughout the body.

The dancer’s study is to clarify the signals that travel through the fascial network. With dance, the movement of the body is a delicate interplay of both directing those signals and understanding the way signals move. The dance training process is the interplay of sending signals and integrating the signals into networks that increase awareness. A networked movement can then be called on as a way to increase awareness.

The dancer’s approach to balance is telling in this process. As the concepts of Structural Integration explain there is a continuous compression and expansion of the fascia to organize the movement of the bones.

The dancer brings this process to awareness. Each movement is not a forced compression of muscles to get to balance. Instead balance is millions of movements sensing the placement of bones and the continual adjustments of fascia within the entire body. All movement is thus connected no matter how subtle or how bold.

Dance is uniquely placed to understand this process involving also the integration of intention, anticipation, and emotion. This understanding of the way movement is directed and nurtured brought the dancer to the use of the image

The image gives a way to translate the orders and desires of the person into movement. To do this requires an understanding of the way our networks receive and integrate data from each part of the person.

Basic to communication is the ability to receive data in the way it is sent. A parallel is the way different personalities communicate, by attention and empathy. Forced and directed communication must operate in the context of the entire person. This process is what the dancer has grown into an art form using a combination of feeling and visualization in images.
Second is the understanding of patterns of movement. The dancer has trained movement patterns to integrate into the entire body. These patterns network the body’s fascia and also the communication networks of attention and empathy.

This process is not a static set of movements but rather networked movements that are continually adjusting to a refreshed human system of emotions, awareness, and empathy. This is the process of nature that begins with simple movement and adds one variation at a time so the system integrates a pattern that is both a renewing of what is known and a surprise of a new creation.

Each movement is an interaction of compression and expansion continually adjusting as well as the human self receiving and reforming the experience of known patterns and creations of continually expanding creations.

The monitor of all these processes is the human self. We have mistakenly looked to the abstract brain as what needs to be trained. The dancer has developed the perspective of training our experience that includes the physical body and also all the other aspects of the person.
Tim Hurst 10/06/17

Posted on

Feel Good Exercise

Why does exercise feel good?
There is more of me to feel. I have more cells looking forward to healthy division and more nourishment on its way through more pathways for blood, for electrical and chemical signals.

That’s not all. My self is present to more, more sensation, more surprise, more tastes and more curiosities. My tinkerer is kept busy asking what matches what and which mix leads down which pathway.

I get to dust off parts of me I had forgotten since I discovered my first steps. Welcome back! Welcome back to simple excitement for the next breath.

Why is it hard to keep exercising?
I want all of me back now. It feels too good to stop myself. Too much, too fast equals pain and sometimes I have to wait for the pain to heal.

Also my excitement is about more than forcing myself to meet pain over and over. My excitement is about more than repeating movements that push me beyond my goals.

Working out is often trying to find a balance of my excitement and my desire to push myself. My excitement sits on the sidelines waiting for me to work out this balance.

In the mean time accomplishing new tasks helps to keep me going.

Why is dance called a fun way to exercise?
Ask a child. Play and exuberance are more than excitement.
Dance is a combination of discovering more to myself and a scientific mixing and matching of many kinds of excitement.
Play is a balance between wanting it all and giving it all up to delight.
As with laughter, every part of my self dusts itself off and says, Welcome back!
Tim Hurst 09/22/17