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Dancing Beyond Experiment

My study is to dance beyond what i know by preparing for the surprises in the movement of my physical body, my intention, emotion, and sensation. I work with energy as the basis for building signal networks in all these forms of movement.

I do this by working directly with the shift of focus between making specific connections to build signal networks and a focus on all energy connections happening at once.

Concentrating on the brain body ability to make distinctions between two connections, I concentrate on finding the simplest connections and vary the connections in one way to find new connections.

Dance is the perfect model for me to follow this process of simplicity growing into complexity by adding variation.

The principles of dance are directed toward this study of focus. The binary approach takes two realms of study and compares them. I am specifically interested in the variations between more and less force, circular and spiraled movement, extension and elevation of movement, directed action and imagery for moving energy.

My study is centered around my weaknesses of trying to force my movement and direct every action and my resistance to patterned and structured movement that seems to emphasize those weaknesses.

My process is derived from Ballet and Modern Dance and informed by study of many forms of technique, therapy, and improvisational dance.

Every day I set out with the goal to renew connections of energy and to discover new connections.

I lay on the floor and I stand. I move my entire body with each movement establishing support networks to move in every direction, with different levels of speed, intensity, and dynamic quality.

I use simple movements initiating from spine signals that go outward and inward.
i vary the directions of signals to go in the same and opposite directions.
I vary the movements from vertical with the spine to horizontal crossing the spine.

I establish a central image of spreading and elevating by following the action of my diaphragm expanding for inhaling and rising for the exhale. Then I transfer this image by pairing the breathing diaphragm with other diaphragms and platforms throughout my body.

I use spiral imagery of the double helix to enhance changing focus within continual movement and intimate relationships between different networks.

I check myself to make sure movement is a process of entering delight. If I am struggling and feeling strain, I simplify the connections and experiment with changes in the size and speed of my movements.
Tim Hurst 03/23/18

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Dancing Beyond

Dancing Beyond 032318 Tim Hurst

My experience of dancers and dancing is entering delight. Delight is the curiosity and anticipation of connecting everything that I know of myself and a willingness to prepare for any surprises I have never known before.

Movement is the agility of transforming energy much like cells dividing to create more life. The characteristics and qualities of movement are much like the sound wave and the light wave that is in perpetual variation and combination of color and intensity.

My shaping of energy is entering this realm of creation and recreation. My experience is agility of connecting and reconnecting energy.

Agility is the readiness, the awareness, and the willingness to move within all the types of energy that I represent as my self.

Agility is my movement as a person. My experience is like balance of human erectness that goes beyond the wobble, like breathing that goes beyond the actions of inhaling and exhaling, the emotion that goes beyond self control, the initiation of thought that goes beyond the physical circumstances.

What emerges is intimate relationship with every form of energy inside and outside myself. My experience is like an image of the spiral, the double helix of DNA strands. Every movement is a relationship that fosters connection of energy.

The character of movement is life giving and life receiving, energy expended and rejuvenated, energy spreading and rising into the new life of the spiral.

The study I seek is to enter this realm of life that is perpetually interactive within the experience of intimacy that is given and received. Within this realm, there are all the continuums of more and less, all the spectrums of light and sound.

Entering this realm is facing the changes from certainty to uncertainty, boldness to subtlety, confidence to vulnerability, The basis is reaching into the unfamiliar while embracing the familiarity of the self.

Simply, we act and we reflect. We gather and we sort. We shape a self that reflects as concise imagery and physical movement.

Where I find this study is in three disciplines that have grown from the same source, music, dance, and religion.

Each of these disciplines deal with the agility to interconnect every form of energy. They choose as their focus the shifting point between the goal and the image beyond the goal.

This shift of focus between self energy and other energy is the basis of their study that is skillful yet goes beyond any expectation.

The demands of each discipline is rigorous because the human system wants certainty, stability, and predictability. For this reason, today’s culture attempts to both stand in awe of dance, music, and religion while at the same time explaining them away as minor realms of study.
TIm Hurst 03/23/18

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Dancing the Self

One of the opportunities of dance is to let all of myself come through my movement. Letting all of myself show seems a bit out of control and the surprise of an unknown part of myself showing up can be a problem.

Because of difficulty learning patterns and having to relearn them every day, I developed several approaches that put me right at the center of my fears and my surprise. Every pattern had to be improvised and shifted from different directions, moods, and intensities. Nothing seemed to store in a concrete way so my memory had to be more like a poem of images than a set of lines with precise positions and angles.

This was especially interesting when performing memorized music or ballroom dance with a partner. I would basically enter a feeling state that included a series of experiences. Inevitably I would enter a blank space and have to improvise my way back into the series. Remembering lines in plays was the same issue.

My approach was to study movement exercises for theater and Modern Dance to get an idea of pattern while finding different dimensions of emotion and intensity. I gradually studied more and more improvisational dance forms with open possibilities for creating surprising patterns. I created performances that were so internal that I would begin with only an image and allow my movement to flow.

The results were that I would indeed find surprise that might be a blockage in myself that froze my thoughts and movements or I would create such a vulnerable place in myself that I was dancing my fear rather than allowing my self to come through.

Watching dancers has been my life and standing outside of the world of patterns has been interesting. I watch for how the person comes through the pattern and how alive that makes the pattern. From this perspective I naturally gravitate to dance that has a range of emotions and intensities. If the patterns of a dance do not shift from delight to seriousness, then I look for the individual dancer who allows themselves to experience a variety of intensities.

So my recurring question is how the dancer who experiences a full range of emotion and intensities relates to the patterns of the dance. Since dance is an interactive form, an even more involving question is how their individual experience connects with their fellow dancers and to the audience participants in their dance.

In my search I have discovered how movement patterns and the dance class methodically take a dancer into the realms of making these shifts of experience. Because dance engages every part of the person, each dancer recognizes the unending number of connections in different ways and at different stages of their learning.

So my process of watching dance is to experience each dancer as a unique composite of experience. This is a special delight since I can experience the baby, the child dancer, the professional or the beginner adult of all ages.

Then I have taken those questions to ask how I, a relative outsider in the realm of pattern, can enter the dancer’s experience of shifting perspectives and qualities of movement, emotion, thought, and even interaction with others.

With my round about ways of learning dance, I began to ask how I could really enter the experience of dance as a way of varying not just the emotion and intensity but also the pattern.

Having studied in depth several approaches to dance improvisation, movement meditation, singing, and theater, I came to the science of dance as we know it, Ballet. Taking ballet for the first time at mid-life was a rush of energy I had not felt. Maybe all those years of watching added up to give me a rudimentary structure to build on.

All this clarity of energy made my blocks even clearer. No area of my body would respond to a command and there were so many commands at once. Pull this, lower this, send energy here then there. I had to take one command to one body area at a time. That meant private class which limited my experience of learning with other dancers.

I enrolled in Pilates, in Balance Class, in combinations of Modern Dance and yoga, and finally in Floor-Barre directly related to Ballet movement. I was still caught in the command issue of trying to move this, hold that, and somehow hold it there. Obviously I still had no storage for the pattern necessary to put all this together.

So I started improvising Ballet movement and trying to find a way to simplify the commands in a way I could learn the movement. My desire is more than that. I want to experience what the dancer experiences when that one dancer enters the whole person that can shift from delight to seriousness, from laughter to reflection, from pattern to emotion in all its intensities.

To remember and to clarify all my rambling experiments, I have written this blog. Those who can wander with me are welcome.
Tim Hurst 01/22/18

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Ballet Ease and Effort

Dancers keep coming back to Ballet. Yes the mom who danced as a child can’t wait to start Ballet later in life. It is also the professional dance innovators who return to the detailed science of Ballet.

The reasons for returning to ballet are that varied. For me and those I observe they return for the experience. So what is the experience of Ballet that is so irresistible? I always go for the global view first. Ballet is full spectrum movement, engaging the entire body at once to network every aspect of the human experience.

Looking at only one aspect like effort and ease brings out a scenario that helps to understand what draws the dancer back to Ballet. Ballet explores the full range of movement from least effort to maximum effort.

The phrase that is often used to describe Ballet is, “It looks so easy.” No one believes Ballet is easy but the word they are looking for is “ease.” Ballet is the experience of ease as an essential part of the full range of effort.

One skill that astonishes everyone is defying gravity, the ability to float at the top of the leap or the jump or the skip. A gymnast that accomplishes this awareness has gone beyond effort into the realm of networked experience. We try to relegate this experience to a mystery by calling it art. What we are trying to say is that it is the experience of engaging all our human faculties at once.

I want to look at this experience of ease with many dance innovators. Ballet masters must take the experienced dancers to the depths of subtlety but also to the extremes of what a person is capable. Like any athletes they test the limits of what is possible. With a science like Ballet this can lead to intense regimentation and forcing of the body that eventually breaks down the body.

For dancers seeking a full range of ease to effort, many innovators took the essence of Ballet and began to study what it meant to use the least amount of effort. The list of innovators is long and each dancer develops their own unique approach to this search.

Modern Dance is the classic break with Ballet searching for imagery to allow effort to come from inside the dancer rather than from the regimentation. Many innovators focused on different aspects of the emotions, on improvisational changes of focus, and on the principles of dance that revealed the uniqueness of each person in improvisational dance.

Then there were the exercise related innovators who studied parts of the dance experience. Mabel Todd wrote the textbook of the body to understand the research of Ballet and Modern experience. People like Alexander, Feldenkreis, Skinner, and Pilates took different aspects of the Ballet and Modern experience to develop complete systems of study of the workings of the body.

Their work would revolutionize the field of athletic training to include the balance of flexibility and strength for maximum performance. In other words the introduction of the image of ease makes a difference in applying the full range of the least effort to maximum effort.

Ballet builds the imagery of ease into every part of the dance class. Each movement is studied as a part of a supportive network integrating the entire body. The pause at the end of a phrase emphasizes the experience of movement continuing with ease even in stillness. The portabra and reverence at the end of class integrates the experience of ease into the extensions used in class.

The innovators breaking with Ballet took this experience to many different extremes. Alexander, Skinner, and Liz Koch author of The Psoas Book all used a similar laying meditation allowing the body to experience the ease of rest. The focus of attention is on releasing every part of the body.

Many exercise programs begin their sessions with Barbara Mettler’s version of this process that is tightening and loosening each part of the body. This is one approach to bringing attention to every area of the body while experiencing a release of effort.

Later innovators like Nina Martin would focus attention using a more fluid approach with the image of light moving through the body. This image she distilled into the study of signals coming through the spine to integrate networks in the entire body.

Another branch of dance has taken the image of effortless movement into new forms like Authentic Movement done with the eyes closed, Continuum which focuses on micro movements to build interconnected movement, Nia that explores the principles of movement and personal expression, and Ecstatic Dance that explores spiritual experience with free form group movement.

Floor-Barre trade marked by Zena Rommett would take this signals study back to Ballet technique. Each movement is a detailed study done on the floor rather than moving through space. This allows the dancer to take an effortless approach to each movement while imagining a suspension of the gravity that affects standing movement.

Steve Paxton created a completely new style of dance, Contact Improvisation. Contact as it is often referred to, can be extremely slow or can move quickly into aerial movement. The dancer studies the ease experienced when one person balances weight with another person. The image is of two bodies melting into a weightless state that is in continual movement. In one performance Paxton blended solo Ballet Movements with instantaneous rolls on the floor and balances on many parts of his body.

Hybrids of Modern Dance and Ballet have formed as well as Jazz Dance and Ballet. The form Contemporary Ballet uses a Modern Dance base blended with Ballet Technique and the gymnastic elements of Contact Improvisation.

Modern Dancers have applied their principles of movement to teaching Ballet. And Modern Dance professionals hold Ballet Classes as an important part of their training.

So by tracing the one image of ease in relation to effort we have a glimpse of the importance of Ballet. And it is telling that many inexperienced dancers and the professionals alike return to a respect for Ballet as the repository of full spectrum movement.
Tim Hurst 01/06/18