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What’s a Child to a Dancer?

There are many delights in my life. One of the greatest is experiencing a child dancing. My delight is the child totally engaged, no other thought, no other focus. As an adult I have to slow myself down enough to really receiving this kind of engagement.

I have to experience their delight as a new state like none other I have experienced before. Like many dancers, the child is moving through many states, experiencing them, playing with them, trying them out in many different ways until they discover a new state.

I am trying to just juggle a few states to pull them together so I have to stop and breathe to accept the constant flow of information that the child is mirroring right into me. I accept that mirroring and follow it both along with the child and within myself connecting up my experiences with it.

My experience of dancers experimenting and performing is the same. I take a deep breath and slow myself down enough to accept the immense flow of information through each dancer.

Each of us as dancers goes through different stages of focusing on the flow from state to state and going back to sort through the moments of delight and doubt that represent us as unique and as a part of the mirroring we participate in.

We get caught in one phase or another and that is why we go to a teacher or a choreographer to help with the sorting and the cleaning of ourselves so we choose what is the clearest representation of our experiences.

So when I experience a dancer individually or as a group, I look first for their flow of delight that I know from slowing down with a child. The clues are if they discover a new part of themselves and allow me to see that in their dancing.

This is my second greatest delight, to be a witness of a dancer becoming a new person right then and there. That process takes courage to put every part of themselves on the line. To even begin to see that, I have to also put myself there ready to be changed as we mirror each other’s experience in the moment.

That is another level. The dancer and the audience mirror each other’s experience. That means the moment is being transformed by the curiosity and courage of each person present. Could be that is why we are mystified that no two performances are the same even with the same dancers and the same audience.

So I take a deep breath, call up what little courage I can and enter a space that is unique to dancers willing to show everything they are. That space is a toggle between two kinds of engaging, vulnerability and acceptance. The opening of all the stops is vulnerability which is essential to a dancer. The willingness to send all the power available through the body is acceptance. Vulnerability is recognizing doubt and anticipating a fully engaging experience. Accepting is claiming this statement as oneself at this moment taking full responsibility for the experience of mirroring that is taking place.

The child is the example. There is complete vulnerability and complete responsibility. There is no quibble about being loved or unloved, about there being a God or no God, about being skilled enough or approved enough. There is only total commitment and not to prove anything but to be a completely new something.

So I recognize how vulnerable I am and pull my total self into a slow space of being able to accept what will come through me. I am audience and I love this moment.

I see the dancer and the choreographer toggle between delight and doubt, between acceptance and vulnerability, between the known and the unknown. And what I commit to our mirroring process is anticipation of the toggle that will bring more engagement that may result in something subtle or something bold. Always I look toward the curiosity of the dancer for accepting those moments as representations of them selves, refreshed, renewed, recreated.
Tim Hurst 10/23/17

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Clarify Double Helix

Today I feel the double helix as an image that sustains my movement. What I see in dancers is what I feel in me as the image moves with a delightful agility from area to area in my body.

I change the position of the double helix image at will. I send any signal through the image, fast or slow, intense and large or subtle and small, floating or carving space. The image is the structure for expansion or compression. The spiral shape is perfect as instantly responding as a spring or as an undulating mass able to articulate any area of my body in multiple directions.

I send signals from my spine outwards to both arms with two ends of the helix as a structure. The signal can continue beyond my body with an extended helix image or allowed to disappear into space.

I can make sense out of ballet images for crossing signals in the back from hip to shoulder. The double helix image can follow those pathways and bring sensation to all the edges of the body, front, back, side, internal and external.

The signal has a structure to return to my spine or make a curved transition into another direction. The ending of the helix can be shaped as a figure eight image to make this returning signal instantaneous.

Tilting and banking my body at the different horizontal diaphragms becomes totally different from directing myself to bend backwards or pull my abs in to roll over. The helix has only to be rotated slightly for tilting and angled for banking motions.

Applying the double helix to my feet is an exploration in itself with the many combinations of arches and joints.

The double helix image carries any variety of signals to the smallest area or to my entire body and psyche at once.

The shape of the double helix is two intertwined spirals. The image of two spirals define a circular space between them that can activate and manage interactive fields of energy in small or large areas. A double helix image around the spine interconnects both sides of the body. Likewise an image of a horizontal double helix can activate at least eight cross sections of the body. Combining the vertical and the horizontal images provides inter-connective networks through the entire body and a way to change to many diagonal pathways.
Tim Hurst 09/14/17

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Dancer Going Deeper

When I move, I can not leave any part of me behind. If I only command my movements, I freeze in tension and I frustrate my desire to coordinate many actions at once. If I move without a command, I experience a free flow of movement yet their is no architecture to build upon and I both limit the range of my motion and I am not able to summarize and repeat the motions or the experience. If I apply sheer will and discipline to perfect patterns of movement, my attention cuts off my emotion and binds my ability to both enter the experience of moving and integrate what I have gained.

What I am left with is self doubt and self criticism as my tools to transform my body and to make a clear summary of my self and my experience in a dance. Dancing like any other repetitive study becomes almost a chore.

I say “almost” because dance by its nature engages the whole body brain, the whole person. We have to work so hard and expend so much effort to resist the dance process that opens all the parts of ourselves.

Whether the dancer tries to ignore emotions or the intricacies of body movement, the result is the same. Something has to give. Some thing has to break, either the body or the psyche, or the access to dance opportunities. The dancer ends up with rehab or the bottom of one addiction or another simply to find a way to include all of themselves in the process of dance.

The dance teacher has one main duty, to encourage the dancer to go deeper. The learning process is the same for meditation, for prayer, for the innovator. Go beyond the frustration, beyond self destructive determination, beyond the excuses of self doubt and impassible roadblocks.

The message is built in, “There is more. Go deeper.” Every person chooses their level. That is the beauty of dance, I can be satisfied with simplicity and allow a statement of myself to emerge. A musician only has to repeat a few notes with a single rough voice quality to be recognizable as a fully engaged person.

I can live in the full experience of my dance at the most simple level. If I am fully engaged I have the ability to notice and access many qualities of movement that carry me to experiences I could not imagine. Like the person in meditation and prayer, the dancer can open to experiences that grow slowly or that quickly shift to more curiosity.

The process of dance training is designed to make this growth with the most ease and with an awareness of a level of confidence within the continual challenges to pay more attention.

PS, I want to move steadily toward more acceptance of myself so I can go deeper.
Tim Hurst 09/09/17

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Dance image Variety

Today I experiment with a balance point between experience of the macro image of everything engaged at once and access to the micro image of creating connections on the simplest levels. My question is, what is happening when I feel the image move through me without needing to visualize the image.

The answer is obvious. When I need the image, I will visualize it. When I need to focus on completing the movement, I will allow the image to move through me in a different way.

I suppose that in the learning situation there are so many necessities to call up support of weak muscles or to correct a position or action. It must be the facility to move between the images of the broader movement and the more specific images of individual working parts.

Even though specific images like a helix can disappear, there is one image that carries me. I follow and shape the multiple movement signals traveling through me. The image is of life signals traveling in all directions at once with multiple curves, circles, and spirals. So within any one movement, I do not worry myself with a one dimensional line. In this way I can catch spirals that are effortless rather than trying to force myself into movement patterns. I can be released from my default belief that everything must be directed and held tightly.

Another constant image is the edges of my body forming circles in space. The edges of my torso form an oval. The edges of my limbs form curved shapes. Within these oval shapes are all the movements of life in a human system. All I have to do is activate those movements and learn from them.

That study is very detailed, but what is important is that I have access to signals connecting all the cross sections of my body brain. I no longer have to think of myself as a machine being ordered to move. I no longer have to attempt to move myself as a stick figure.

Within all this, I experience a brightness and curiosity that initiate movement. Patterns and variations emerge and become experiences that change with my internal and external experience.

Another image I have been studying is weight as buoyancy. The study came from many perspectives. Weight as effortless movement. Weight as rising and falling that reverse the placement of gravity on the upside or downside of a wave form. Simple muscle action becomes springing that takes place in an image before a movement.

This study changes every move I make because I have networked the experiences of weight into paired areas of my body and with different qualities of movement. Once the connections are made, they need only be nurtured with daily attention and experienced in a variety of dance situations.

The advantages are access to simple commands that activate any area of movement and personal experience. I can vary the sensation of power or vulnerability that ripples through any self instantly. I can vary the size and weight of the smallest or the largest movement. I can shift from completing a movement to adjusting and experimenting with different parts of the movement.
Tim Hurst 09/06/17