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