Gaga Workshop with Omri Drumlevich, Austin, Tx, 040817, Presented by AMARTS.
I entered the dance room with only one question, am I able to do this class? Omri is welcoming and completely OK that I am not a working dancer. I know I have to monitor myself, measure my excitement to avoid injury.
I met other dancers, some I had seen performing in the Austin Dance Festival. Sharing our excitement for the class calmed me down a bit.
Omir begins the class. First image is floating and I am at home. Then Rising and falling with every movement brings me to sharpen my senses. I go internally into each part of my body. Floating up and down becomes a specific experience of ribs, tailbone, then of entire body.
Later in choreography I felt Omri’s vision of pressured lowering motion that is powerful and distinct.
I had to laugh when I realized that the entire approach of the class was using the image of sending energy as signals through the body. This is the focus of my daily experiments to awaken every area of myself and my body.
A very graphic image grabs me. Imagining a rope passing through one arm, through the shoulders, and through the other arm, energy passes through the rope as if there were no bone.
The signal is sent from the spine between the shoulder blades and the arms are always sending and receiving the signal through the rope.
I sighed a breath of release to get this clear image of a multi-level experience of sending and receiving signals. I am not simply asking my body to move, I am listening and receiving to all the information returning from the movement. This is the reflective experience of dancing. Omri said it, “the information we receive may even be emotional.”
A surprising use of a similar image in Omri’s choreography is feeling a necessity to move in one direction, for example on a slanted surface, and trying to keep ourselves from going there. The signals are sent in one direction and resisted with signals in the other direction. This is a very distinct experience.
I have been exploring leg extension as coming from only signals without thinking about tight hamstrings and IT bands. Omri’s next image exploded my imagination. He asks us to imagine moving without any bone, only muscle and skin. The signals are a different experience.
Next we expand our skin to a large loose mass and then expand our movement into the mass of stretched skin. My experience with translating every image to a signal meant I had lots of fun sending out bursts of signals to every edge of my skin almost like blowing up a balloon.
Using an opposite image, we are asked to imagine sending the bones of our arms and legs beyond the skin. Like Omri suggested, this is not a metaphor to be thought and executed, but an experience to be lived inside our movement.
This is precisely the value of dance that I seek to explore. An experience of interconnected signals comes through me as a person with all my emotion, intention, anticipation, curiosity, and hope. Dance is more than a series of commands and plans, goals and skills.
At this point in the workshop, I am totally engaged with the imagery of signals and reflection. Quality and connection of every movement. When Omri challenges us to move in ways we have not moved before, I have no monitor left. Where I go and with what abandon became a delight and a necessity. And of course he says, “go deeper into the experience,” and “go further.” Another force was in charge because I finished with no sense of strain or injury.
I did have to stop after 15 minutes of choreography from so much energy and blood running through my brain. Thoughts began to run together in a slow motion kind of way. Watching the class became another level of my learning experience.
Tim Hurst. 042317