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My Urgency towards a Dynamic Vision of Dance

What is my urgency of exploring a Dynamic Vision of Dance?

Every day I wake up to hear of a new discovery about human intelligence, how the brain can be improved to take advantage of this emotional or athletic intelligence, and what substance in what kind of pill will instantly enhance my abilities.

The question that interests me is when has this kind of exponential growth happened before in our history? It may have happened many times after we as a species had lulls of discouragement and disillusionment.

Most probably a leap in human skills of this sort happened as the human began to accept their new powers of the brain. Most important though are the gifts the human developed before realizing the new powers. These gifts became strengths that made it possible to garner the courage and the commitment to explore and build on these new powers.

We seem to be in one of those discouraged seasons of history. Even with all our new discoveries, we look at our youth and find more anxiety, more suicides, more depression and more addiction to substances that we rely on to face our challenges.

One perspective that sticks out as something that has helped humans to persevere is a discovery by Steve Johnson. In his book Wonderland, How Play has Change the Course of History. He connects play to the experience of Delight.

The first question Johnson asks is why in the evolution of humans, the flute preceded the invention of fire. The sounds of the flute were intricately developed to produce a scale that is mathematically astounding. The answer he gives is that our ancestors explored the experience of Delight.

What gift did humans have to help deal with a larger brain? Delight. Where did the intricacies of math and astronomical observation come from? Delight

How did humans persevere in the discouraging times when changes were demanded and new powers seemed unwieldy? Delight was studied and practiced in three ways. Two of the activities were named in language as the same thing. Music and Dance were the same activity. Music and Dance and Religion held the same purpose. First it was Delight. From the delight came bonding of the group plus the growth of observation and anticipation. Most important was the growth all three brought to make phrases that captured the sense of the individual and the group. A phrase was a declaration of the hope and aspiration of each group in their search for the courage to persevere.

What is interesting in our times is our reliance on music and dance as ways to grow our Delight while at the same time not understanding their importance. They are relegated to the realm of religion that is not understood but exploited for the hope it gives.

What is my part in this urgent quest for an overall vision?

I have a unique history with music dance, and religion. All took me a long time to grasp. The technique was slow coming. My brain would freeze if I got over stimulated with each study.

My only entry point in to music, dance, or religion was Delight. Because of early trauma, I developed an escape hatch that was a kind of surrender to Delight. I discovered a particular kind of surrender that always brought Delight. Plus i was able to play and sing music with an abandon that I did not understand.

The tenants of religion were puzzling to me yet I felt myself abandon to Delight in meditative and ritual experiences.

An example of the difference is that learning music or dance has been a process of being a stick man with jerky movements and continual mistakes. Likewise, memory was not something I understood.

What I was able to do was to abandon myself to Delight by playing with the pieces of learning I could remember from a class. I could commit my pieces to memory by connecting each section to a specific kind of Delight.

I would often have lapses of memory while performing. There was no recorded memory of the music or the dance. I would improvise until the Delight would return and there was the remainder of the phrase, the tonality, or the melody.

So my study of Delight has a special meaning to me. Also I seek to understand the kind of surrender that brought me to enter Delight.

All these things are what dancers, musicians, and people of religion approach in their own ways. I have a very detailed perspective because it has all come to me through a longer time line than most.

For example, it took me six summers of daily swimming to learn how to coordinate legs and arms and breath in swimming. Tennis took about the same time just to hit a ball after I bounced it in front of me.

I will not admit the enormous length of time I have spent to arrive at an ease with music and dance. Religion took years of intense meditative practices to coordinate my readiness to my willingness. I persevered in order to both surrender and to reach for the courage to ask the real questions.
Tim Hurst 07/02/18

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Where is My Delight?

I meet nephew of almost three at the waters edge.
He says his full name, three of them.
I dunk myself to remember the entirety of my history in three names.

We stand eye to eye in the water. His smallest bounce delighted me to follow. A little more bounce, him then me. Bouncing now in slightly deeper water, our smiles just above waters surface.
Our eyes shining. Our heads beaming at bottom and at top of the bounce.

Bouncing moves us across the pool. He notices. I just follow. Now he bounces backwards across the pool. I follow still one and a half feet away.

His smile enters the water now and on the rising bounce, he says, “I am happy.”

Out of concern, someone hands him a tube of floating sponge. He touches one end. I touch the other. He bounces backwards. I follow. At pool’s edge i pull the tube and we quickly cross the pool. His feet adjust his bounce in ways I can not see.

I make a crunching sound as the tube hits the edge of the pool. Some yell comes out of me meaning, “your turn to pull me.” He pulls and bounces us back across the pool. I float, follow his pull, and subtly tug the tube and us out of deeper water.

He examines the hole in the end of the tube. I make a sound in the other end. Laughing, he makes a sound in his end.

Adults arrive and nephew has to go home for bedtime.
Tim Hurst 07/01/18

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Who Do I Say I Am?

Who Do You Say that I Am?

Energy of course. Alternating energy you say yet what is that?

I suppose I am the aperture of my own camera that nurtures the energies I receive, those I follow, and those I join with my very own energies.

Yes I suppose I have to nurture and own up to my own energies. So simple you say yet who am I to say.

Dare i? Step into my own energies?

Where would my courage come from? my balance?

Strength given through my immense energies you say?

Start Again We All Say.

Where is my energy now? Images I delight in? Movements I delight to find in me? Sounds I echo at my surface edge?

Where do my energies meet to clean themselves, to shine themselves, to nurture a beginning again?
Tim Hurst 07/01/18

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Dancer Delight as Energy

Sometimes when I watch dance i see bodies moving from here to there. It may take me a while to orient to the emotions and the energy of the dance and the dancers.

It helps that I know the delight the dancer carries into their dance. The delight is not a feeling that comes and goes. The dancer’s delight I know as a way of navigating through movements, attitudes, emotions, plans, and errors.

Navigation sounds like a huge task. In practice, dance has a way of simplifying everything. The dancer’s delight is moving energy. Dance training is simply to learn step by step how to move energy through the entire person.

The body is only the vehicle. The pathways, the shaping of space, the rhythms, these are the ways of playing with energy.

The body can be compared to clay. The potter shapes and responds to the ever changing curves in the clay. The dancer of course is unique because their clay is living, breathing, sensing, and growing.

Energy is the first image of a Ballet class no matter what age. Moving energy from toe to top of the head connects the entire body at once. From this simple beginning comes the complexity and the beauty of dancers of all kinds.

Like dancing, energy is not an “it” to use. Energy is living and growing every moment. The person who enters dance chooses to enter that living and growing process.

I have throughout my life been nagged by the question, “What’s all this life for?” When I enter dance, the question erases because my full attention, all my brain and body power must be directed toward the energy that insists on growing or languishing.

And when delight is involved, it is obvious when I choose to be discouraged rather than engaged in growing energy. Besides, when the choice is letting enegy slip away, I can not resist getting with the program.
Tim Hurst 06/30/18

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My Ballet Energy

Ballet has a quality that brings me closer to myself. There is something about moving my arms that brings energy in towards my spine and extends energy outwards from my spine. Something about the simple quality of the movements capture me. I have this feeling of being one movement. It is hard to say, I am moving as myself, all of myself.

My usual jerky and forced movements give way to something akin to ease. Moving my arms with other movements, I follow the energy flow up and down my spine. Then when I bring my arms close to my lower spine, I can feel the lifting energy that my teachers speak about going up the spine and out the top of my head.

That is not the only quality I feel. Extending my arms while lowering into a wide second position, I feel the expansion of energy outwards in my entire pelvic floor. The same happens when my arms extend at chest level, the energy of my entire chest and back expand with my arms. The energy fills me edge to edge and I almost suspend in space.

Interesting that word suspend, because the energy moving through me has that tendency to suspend every part of me. Every movement has an energy of suspension.

I am close to myself. Energy comes from me and returns to me with my spine as a relay point. My movement is connected to my focus of energy. Moving is a slight adjustment of energy flow rather than raw force.

The circular pathways of Ballet give me a place to take the suspension like in waves that reach a peak and carry that energy into the spreading or falling motions.

Speaking of energy, the more I dance the more energy I have. And the energy is a two way flow that extends me beyond my imagination and then returns the movement close to my heart where I can take delight in what has happened. That is all another story.
Tim Hurst 06/29/18

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Dancer’s Unique Movement

Watching a dancer, I always see something more than the movement. That something is the reason that dance is so hard to explain. Everyone wants to say that their exercise or their game trains the brain. With dance, there is that something more, more than the brain, more than the effort and more than the extreme skills.

The special something of dance has obsessed me for many years. Trying to make a list is like a grocery list that never ends. One reason is that dance contains the simplest beginning to movement leading to variation upon variation of complexity.

So I continue to try and clarify a few simple things about dance. I begin with Ballet because it is the one form that takes from and influences every other form of dance.

One simple element that gives movement an extra quality is the rhythm. In a Ballet class the teacher often emphasizes the rhythm by using the phrase, “And, One.” This can be stated repeatedly or in series as in “And, One; And, Two; And, Three.”

So many principles are capsuled in these words. First they are a phrase. All movement is more than a task or a skill, it is a phrase in the same way that music is more than sound.

What else does “And, One” reveal? The anticipation of the movement is as important as the move itself. In other words, every part of the movement is important.

How does the dancer make the anticipation just as important as the movement? First is the rhythm that can be using duration of short/long. The “And” becomes the short and the “One” can be long. Or the variation can be Long/Long that sustains the phrase as in music.

The dance can then vary the movement by distinguishing a rhythm with the simple phrase of shorts and longs.

This is easily experienced in Tap dancing that specializes in the sound of shorts and longs in phrases that can be quick or extended.

It is this extension of the phrase that is also different about dance movement. By combining the short/long variations, phrases place emphasis. As an observer I am guided by the phrase to anticipate the emphasis. As in “And, One” I anticipate the One. With a longer phrase, I wait for and anticipate the return of the emphasis. For example, “And, One: And, Two; And, Three,” returns to “And, One.”

Not only is every moment important, the preparation and the emphasis. Every moment can also be distinguished by an emphasis or a building to an emphasis. This is also the language of music.

Another way of describing this process of managing the emphasis is using the term transition. Dance and music are basically learning to experience ways of making a transition from one sound or movement to another using processes like the phrase.

Hip Hop and Street Dancing demonstrate all this with their moments of suspense just before a surprising movement. Latin Dances likewise vary the emphasis with variations on “And, One, And, Two” changing the emphasis from the One to the Two.

Rhythm built around the phrase and emphasis are only the beginning of what makes dance movement unique.
Tim Hurst 06/28/18

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Suspension Dances

Dance instantly invites so many moments of entry into suspension.

Suspension is like a precipise between effort and ease, between a task and a day dream.

Entering the dance of suspension, I experience the dance imagery of floating and circular space around me. Even my feet know suspension. With each step the under arch and the top instep find mid-air a delightful place to find themselves.

Dancers exercise their bodies and their imagery to free the legs from the torso. A key image is energy that moves up the torso through every cell and every muscle group. Then the entire body becomes a network to enter suspension.

I experience suspension as a wave that extends energy to the top and then gathers energy on the curve over and downwards. Taking that image into every part of my body, suspension is movement at its richest point.

The image in music is the sound transitions between a suspenseful chord and a clear resolution or a preparatory moment just before a repetition of a melody.

This moment of anticipation is called a “creative pause” in the dances of Barbara Mettler, an early innovator in Modern Dance. The Ballet teacher calls out “And one, And two.” The “And” suspends this moment just before the down beat and just before initiating a movement phrase. Street Dance has a bright spark, maybe even a slight smile just before the smallest or the the grandest flight into the air.

And it is these entry moments that bring me the most delight. In fact, the moment I enter a dance, I smile knowing that the delight will meet me with more connections than I can grasp and more satisfaction than I could ever expect.

Dance Tools I aspire to understand: the sensation of riding the suspension in time, in space, in thought, and in emotion while accepting all the delight I can handle.
Tim Hurst 06/23/18

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Expanding My Space Dance

What is my dance today? Expanding Space

I live within an image of my spine as a whole unit from inside my cranium to the bottom of my sacrum.

Expanding space my image surrounds the fluid sheaths around my spine and surrounding my brain.

From these vulnerable territories my movement emerges as gentle, microscopic, and undulating as gentle waves on a shore.

Spreading sensations from surrounding areas emerge meeting the outside air at the edges of my body.

My torso rotates around my spine through the sensations of inner space. My arms and legs follow the pathways of my spine raising and lowering, waving and suspending.

My head bobs into outer space carrying my entire body into spirals in every direction.

The energy filling me moves beyond my body approaching trees and people who emanate their own unfamiliar energies. Returning to my spine I craft waves of movement to offer a meeting of energies.

Dance Tools I Seek
Continuous spiraling energy distinguishing itself as internal and external.
Tim Hurst 06/22/18