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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

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My Expanding Dance

What dance am I today? Expansion

Expansion becomes spreading becomes extension becomes movement.

From top of my spine, my sensation awakens lower brain, throat, jaw.
Spreading through center brain to meditative silence, palate, back of eyes.
Extending in rolling curves to memory of delight and the roaring of energy through the top of my head.

Each section of spine extends to awaken a vulnerable collar bone, an expanding chest, a spreading back, the widening of diaphragms respiratory and pelvic.

Networked energies culminate in the spine’s extension into exploratory extensions as arms, as legs. as head.

Tools of Dance I Seek.
Fluid shifting of focus from single points to connected energy centers.
Tim Hurst 06/22/18

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Dance Class Questions

Question:
How do dancers deal with the daily vulnerability and moment by moment corrections necessary to improve?

Personal Answers:
Growing a courage to admit strengths and limitations.
Growing a willingness to recognize insights and make corrections.

Answers of the Dance Class:
Dancing offers an instant delight of moving, growing, and becoming oneself.
Dance class is a process that builds confidence and excellence.

My Experience
I joined a Ballet class once again as a beginner’s beginner. One thing that puzzled me was the way most people left class without interacting with each other.

It reminded me of some meditations that are so expanding that words and smiles are not appropriate right away.

And it was true that like in meditation, every moment of the class required a personal dedication to noticing and making subtle shifts. And also the ending of the class with a portabra was a very gentle and expansive way to integrate my entire experience of struggles and insights.

Interesting that these analogies continue. The closing of the class was a moment of absolute stillness called “reverence.” i guess it would be normal to leave silently and take that feeling of strength and personal awareness with us.

But this is more of an adult experience. The little ones would be hugging each other, jumping up and down, and giggling. Teenagers who know the delight of dance have their own way of enjoying their friends after an intense class.

Question:
How do dancers think about their friends who go faster and farther into dance skills?

Personal Answers:
Because everyone is challenged to their maximum, there is tendency to rely on each other’s strengths and to take a longer view of getting things right.

My Experience
I have watched so much dance and so many dancers of all ages that I see each person as a unique journey. And the journey is like a group of scientists looking at a huge phenomena without an explanation.

When one dancer gets the pattern correct, everyone is in a different place, just like scientists who make a breakthrough for the entire community.

Another person adds more emotion or a melodic phrasing or a variation in the rhythm. Another person can not do all the pattern but has a little attitude that speaks a different message.

For myself, there is no way I could even make it through class without all the variety of the insights and breakthroughs of the other dancers.

So at the end of class I can walk out. I have to show my gratitude for everyone, the weakest who stand in courage with me and the brilliant ones who show the way. And it is no big deal. I smile or give a small touch and a gesture of gratitude. For some I can say how their experience of the dance helps me. For others I give a hearty thank you because I know their courage and growth has made a difference to me.
Tim Hurst 06/02/18

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Our Tension Matrix

Every person has their ways of storing tension. After a while the tension becomes pain or a troubled system like digestion. We often ignore the discomfort allowing it to get worse or confronted it with massage, medication, or a vacation.

There are many other ways of dealing with tension. I prefer to change my habitual ways of responding to stress. The three most powerful ways of changing the way I think, feel, and act are through the study of dance, music, meditation, and prayer.

(Each of these rewire the signal networks and manage the energy flow through the body, intention and thought processes.)

A favorite tension matrix for accumulating stress begins at the spine between the shoulder blades and goes up into the head. We experience grabbing sensations in the shoulders, chest, neck, and jaw.

I feel this gathering of tension when I concentrate on a project and grab with my facial and eye muscles. These tensions call on my upper body to join in the fun, and there I have it, lingering tension.

My mentors deal with tension by waking up the energy flows in the entire body. Using the help of the arts and meditation, dancers and musicians rewire the networks connecting intention, emotion, thought, and the body.

This upper body tension matrix gives way to changing the energy flow. Piano players concentrate the energy flow through their upper torso into their fingers. The agile changes of focus on musical melody and rhythm relieve the tension.

Singers connect the energy of breathing with openings of the inner cavities of the throat and the soft palate. This openness of energy flow combined with vibration in the head seal the experience of refocusing the stress.

The disciplines of meditation and prayer have ways of altering energy flow using different brain waves. These affect the entire body and open up centers of focus like the “third eye” at the middle of the forehead.

Dancers have a comprehensive approach to combining all the benefits of these disciplines plus a detailed study of energy flow through the various human networks.
Tim Hurst 05/18/18

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What’s a Tree to You?

I saw time lapse photography of a tree seed sprouting and growing into a seedling.

The roots spread down, then out the sides.
The sprout formed at the top of the seed and nudged its way through the earth’s crust.
Growing straight up, a curved frond formed and from that two leaves formed.

This is the moment that woke me up. The frond went into a waving motion to unfurl the leaves.

Wait a minute? Does this mean that the tree is waving while it is growing.

I thought of a tree as a tree. A standing and stationary thing that I looked at.
I know they change by changing color, losing leaves. I know that in Spring their new green is fresh and surprising.

But every moment a new tree? How could I have missed that?

Oh my, my. Do I think of myself and you like a tree? Something stationary.
If I really you were a fresh new group of cells every so many hours….how many hours is that?
Tim Hurst k05/13/18

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Tree One and Two Poem

Tree One
Does the tree nuzzle the breeze like the breeze nuzzles the tree?

Does the tree love me like I love the tree?

Tree Two
Does the fresh new sprout squeal like the child meeting the air for the first time?

Does the trunk of the tree celebrate each new branch?

Do I even know the branches I grow?
Tim Hurst 05/13/18

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Our Legacy Dance

Our Legacy
What is the legacy of each generation of human life? There are three that are basic to promoting healthy and vibrant community and individual life.

One is the will to live. One is delight in living and learning. One is the willingness to heal the physical and emotional trauma of confronting our limitations and challenges.

Each generation takes responsibility for transferring these three basics of life to the young and to the community. In our culture, we insist that the young find their own way of defining their character and their vocation.

The result is waves of anxiety, depression, and addiction. The solutions we are offered give competing approaches to survival that often provide results with as much harm as help

What Do We Have in Common?
My interest is in finding where the three basics of life have made the most impact upon us as humans.

One assumption I make is that along side our necessity for survival and competition is an equal force toward the three basics of a will to live, the delight for growing, and a willingness of the entire system to face the challenges with regeneration and healing.

I have chosen the similarities of dance, music, and religion because they were seen by early humans as one and the same experience. All of them addressed the three basics of life and all were performed as one event. From them grew rituals and healings that were clear capsules of the community life.

The importance of these events gave us a way of marking the growth of the community and the place each individual took within the community. As the individuals grew and with the changes of time, the markers and the character of the events would change maybe slightly, maybe radically.

Questions of Dance
To look at the basics of life, I begin simply by looking at the dancer’s experience. Dance is a good place to start because it is the least understood and stands outside much debate. Dance engages all areas of the person forming a sense of self and uses many of the principles of music and religion. The obvious fascination of children with dance is the best recommendation for the study of life as a part of delight.

The questions are simple but elusive to find all the connections within the individual and the group.

What is the anticipation a dancer feels before entering a dance?
What is the delight a dancer experiences in the process of dancing?
What is the dancer’s approach to rejuvenation of trauma in both the body and the psyche?
Tim Hurst 05/12/18

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Ashe Arts: The Process

Presented by Ashe Arts

April 21st & 22nd

AISD Performing Arts

Ashe Arts: the dynamic new theatre company focused on telling stories from the African Diaspora is proud to present a new and exciting theatre event. “The Process” is a unique experience offering a peek behind the curtain of the creative process with narration from the artistic directors: Sadé M Jones and Zell Miller, III. Experience multi-genre event with beautiful movement and powerful theatre using the “The Jazz Aesthetic”. Discover the beginning motivations of these two directors and what inspires them to use these methods to create a new and awe-inspiring genre of theatre. Celebrate the up-and-coming artists of color! 2-night event ONLY! $20 genral admission @ the door.

For more info. and tickets click here!

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Mirando Hacia Arriba (Looking Up)

Chamacos Dance Company

April 20th – 22nd

Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center

“Looking up” is the new collaborative project between Aurelio Planes, Chamacos Dance Company and ProyectoTeatro. This project utilizes Cuban contemporary dance to explore a new vision of the human experience inspired by the apocalypse. Dancers embodying community endure a cruel and visceral confrontation against the four horseman whom have arrived to end life. This timeless physical confrontation pulls us into a space beyond the body, where generational cycles force us to reflect on our role as human beings in society.

This project was created with a musical selection of international icons that span different eras and different time periods.

Choreography by: Aurelio Planes

Click here for tickets!