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The Dancer’s Imprint

I have often wondered why the dancer has been satisfied to create intense experiences that are not recorded well even in photos and film.

My experience of dancers and their choreography is of their imprint as individuals and as groups. The imprint they create is every aspect of their experience as a person.

That imprint can not be reproduced mechanically. Their imprint is created within and in connection with fellow dancers, dance students, and audiences.

In neurobiology, this imprint is referred to as the mirror neuron. The mirror neuron not only records the experience of the dancer but also creates its own version of a sound from music or a movement from watching dance. This all sounds mysterious but it is a process that we respond to and recognize easily.

What the dancer is doing is sharing an imprint of their experience through their creation of dances. That imprint is replicated in many different ways in the fellow dancers, their dance students, their families and friends, and each audience that chooses to share that imprint.

This is of course only the beginning. Each person that experiences a dancer’s imprint reflects their own perspective by building on their excitement with slight variations. These different perspectives and moment by moment growth of delight and intensity are what we see as audiences.

Then as audience we amplify the delight, the anticipation, the excitement of the imprints we are witnessing. We are taking the dancers’ imprints and making our own which can explode into laughter or sighs or sometimes personal distress.

At the end of the performance, no person present is the same. Imprints have been created and recreated, shaped and reshaped. Each person’s experience has been expanded or compressed in some way.

This experience after a performance is often more than we can manage. Sometimes I do not know what to say or what to think about this new person I have become and my witness of new creations emerging before my eyes. What has just happened?

This is not the same thing that happens when watching a mechanical representation in media. In a live performance, I can access the real energy and the varying pathways taken by each dancer’s of their experience.

Basically, that performance with that group of dancers and that audience is a unique experience that will never happen in the same way again.
Tim Hurst. 02/06/18

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Give My Heart

The prescription for every lifestyle is always to go beyond oneself. The Beatles say to find someone to love. For a parent the gift is giving to the child. For the entrepreneur the gift is creating something useful and desirable. For the financial life, gathering assets is to benefit a family or to participate in a group. For the universal mind, the gift is gratitude to a creator or awe in the face of the vastness of the universe.

For the performer, the gift is sharing a vision with one person in an audience or with a complete spectrum of groups. In the study of dance and music, building energy fields is a matter of changing focus and imagery to include a fellow dancer or musician and to invite a wider group to experience unique combinations of movement, emotion, and intention.

Each artist devises their own configurations that reveal surprises and more demands to give of themselves beyond their wildest imagination.
Tim Hurst 12/22/17

In a search to lower my stress and get my blood pressure under control, I have begun giving my heart to a source outside myself. From my perspective of shifting focus from a broad view to a narrow one, my broadest view is a creator of the universe. This is a poem I wrote exploring this experience:

Giving my heart to my creator releases my desire for proof that I am the author of my energy.

If my energy is beyond my desire to torque and to force, what freedom I have to allow rejuvenation to live within me.

All is beyond my imagination anyway. Why must I struggle so for an opinionated desire?

Where does the dance, the music come from then? What need to ask if my creator is the author of my energy?

How much more unique my energy must be than I can imagine?

Yes it is true I must now ask and continue to ask to give my heart to my creator?

How can I possibly ask for that?
Tim Hurst 12/21/17

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What’s a Child to a Dancer?

There are many delights in my life. One of the greatest is experiencing a child dancing. My delight is the child totally engaged, no other thought, no other focus. As an adult I have to slow myself down enough to really receiving this kind of engagement.

I have to experience their delight as a new state like none other I have experienced before. Like many dancers, the child is moving through many states, experiencing them, playing with them, trying them out in many different ways until they discover a new state.

I am trying to just juggle a few states to pull them together so I have to stop and breathe to accept the constant flow of information that the child is mirroring right into me. I accept that mirroring and follow it both along with the child and within myself connecting up my experiences with it.

My experience of dancers experimenting and performing is the same. I take a deep breath and slow myself down enough to accept the immense flow of information through each dancer.

Each of us as dancers goes through different stages of focusing on the flow from state to state and going back to sort through the moments of delight and doubt that represent us as unique and as a part of the mirroring we participate in.

We get caught in one phase or another and that is why we go to a teacher or a choreographer to help with the sorting and the cleaning of ourselves so we choose what is the clearest representation of our experiences.

So when I experience a dancer individually or as a group, I look first for their flow of delight that I know from slowing down with a child. The clues are if they discover a new part of themselves and allow me to see that in their dancing.

This is my second greatest delight, to be a witness of a dancer becoming a new person right then and there. That process takes courage to put every part of themselves on the line. To even begin to see that, I have to also put myself there ready to be changed as we mirror each other’s experience in the moment.

That is another level. The dancer and the audience mirror each other’s experience. That means the moment is being transformed by the curiosity and courage of each person present. Could be that is why we are mystified that no two performances are the same even with the same dancers and the same audience.

So I take a deep breath, call up what little courage I can and enter a space that is unique to dancers willing to show everything they are. That space is a toggle between two kinds of engaging, vulnerability and acceptance. The opening of all the stops is vulnerability which is essential to a dancer. The willingness to send all the power available through the body is acceptance. Vulnerability is recognizing doubt and anticipating a fully engaging experience. Accepting is claiming this statement as oneself at this moment taking full responsibility for the experience of mirroring that is taking place.

The child is the example. There is complete vulnerability and complete responsibility. There is no quibble about being loved or unloved, about there being a God or no God, about being skilled enough or approved enough. There is only total commitment and not to prove anything but to be a completely new something.

So I recognize how vulnerable I am and pull my total self into a slow space of being able to accept what will come through me. I am audience and I love this moment.

I see the dancer and the choreographer toggle between delight and doubt, between acceptance and vulnerability, between the known and the unknown. And what I commit to our mirroring process is anticipation of the toggle that will bring more engagement that may result in something subtle or something bold. Always I look toward the curiosity of the dancer for accepting those moments as representations of them selves, refreshed, renewed, recreated.
Tim Hurst 10/23/17

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Listen by Tapestry Dance Co

Tapestry performance, Listen With Ears Wide Open, March 30, 2017

Acia Gray of Tapestry Dance Company has her own direction as an artist.
Putting together personalities. Each personality has a melody, their own musical scale, their own unique quality of sound. Each moves into their melody with a little different focus of energy, lightness and heaviness.

Each personality takes a different pathway, some a little more direct with a focused intensity, some with a winding fluid ease that builds its intensity in intricacies, some build a storyline based on their personal power.

Putting personalities together in a unison environment creates an engine run by fireflies, delighting, surprising, personalities more visible at some times, less at others.

The excitement of personalities is when they meet and they create a new personality between them. Of course as audience we form three way personalities as we build our focus, interest, and excitement. Our experience explodes when paired personalities meet, especially tap dancers with a commitment to melody and the anticipatory spaces of rhythm.

Then Acia adds the added twist of improvisation allowing the tap dancers to let their personalities roll on the energy of interaction with each other and on personal intuition. Memory and planning would not be able to keep up with the delight and surprise of personalities bouncing off of each other.

For the audience, the thrill is catching the full on surrender in the faces of the dancers as they juggle between too many choice interactions. For example the ending piece of Listen with Ears Wide Open was called I’ve Got Rhythm. A rhythm was established by each dancer in a sand box interacting with the sand and interacting with the rhythm of each dancer as they added one at a time. Each dancer had a unique sound and movement related to tearing paper that was a part of their rhythm. Each dancer picked up the other dancer’s approach to the paper, their rhythm, and their movement in the sand box. Mix all that together and the audience is roaring with the combinations occurring in the moment. Fun. Synthesis. Catharsis. By whatever name you call it, that is tap dancing with Acia Gray.
Tim Hurst, 03/30/17

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Las Cuartos Estaciones:A Story of Human Trees

Sharon Marroquin’s Las Cuatros Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees

The Dancers Preparing for the Performance

How many miles have we come?
How many healing rivers have we crossed?
How many awakenings have these eyes seen?
How many waterfalls have we approached with quiet looks and pursed lips?
How many stretches of our hearts have we welcomed?
How many spirit worlds have these bodies transformed?
How many ancestors have we honored in the depths of our souls?
How many times have we caught the winds with eagle’s wings and pierced our expansiveness with eagle’s eyes?

The Performance of Las Cuatros Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees by Sharon Marroquin

This work grows, as all my work does, from a resonant source within. It is personal and poignant, yet I intend for it to echo across the distance that separates us.

Each person holds a place in my memory of what it means to live in a vulnerable body, what it means to be tender to ones self.

It is about the passing of time, loss, and the countless beginnings and endings that permeate our lives.

Each person emerging throughout the performance left me with precious gifts of germinating within, wriggling and sprouting, and wringing out the traumas of our existence.

Las Cuatros Estaciones is also about acceptance: like autumn leaves that detach from their branches in a profound gesture of generosity and wisdom, we seek to make way for new life that unfurls, once again, towards the light.

I delight in the child and the adult, each bursting into the exuberance of new life. And after risking themselves, bursting again and again.

I cherish the wisdom and generosity of adult with child and the full circle when the adult must rest inspiring the child to lay down beside them with a wisdom and generosity only known by the child.

Thanks to the dancers for your energy and artistry that inspires and challenges me.
Gracias, Sharon

Every day, I walk with the experience you shared in Las Cuatros Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees. Sprouting new leaves is the only way I can express my gratitude for Sharon, each dancer adult and child, and each person who helped bring this experience to my life.
Thank you all, Tim
Tim Hurst. 03/23/17

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Austin Dance Festival 2017

Insightful placement of a festival reviewing Modern Dance in Austin Texas. Austin has been the percolator of dance genres at least since the 1960’s and probably long before that. Percolator not Expresso, place for reflection away from the firing lines of New York and L.A, testing grounds, any thing goes land, melting pot for innovators of dance, theater, and personal exploration in the unknowns of spirituality and ritual.

Community building for the movement arts of Austin was assisted by the foodies, the musicians, and the roadies. And to be poetic, I guess standing behind all these were the rodeos. Austin became a place of the heart and the gut feelings of the U.S.of A.

Well here we stand before a slice of Modern Dance, excluding as always huge swaths of Austin innovators that could take a week long symposium to do justice. I delight in the themes that rattle the human cage and the ones that call up our ancestry, and I give thanks for the ones that remind us that laughter is present no matter how lost we are.

What I love about Dance is that we are here in this culture at this time to bring a unique perspective. We delve deep into our experience no matter the circumstances we choose for ourselves. And as always, dance has a message that stops the human heart on a dime.

My belief is that we look at a deep and broad perspective of experience that is so important as we move past dystopian fears and into exploration of the infinite possibilities before us. Under every dance theme today is the human grappling with self worth and a responsive self to ourselves, each other, and our world.

Each theme and emphasis tied me to your yearning for more life, more human contact, more physicality, more vulnerability, more power…to infinity. Thank each one of you for your willingness to take us there and your courage. Oops, there it is for me. Dare I go deeper into this feeling, into this world? Dare I go past this weariness, this unanswered question?

Somehow we break open the egg and stick out our head even if we think the world is just a white shell. And like that little chick we call on a long ancestry of innovating movement to express our curiosity and to bring fire to our insistence that we must feel and hear and taste our life, our thoughts, and our greatest hopes.

Keep on. Don’t be like me and try to say everything in one sentence. I keep whispering in my ear, “What is the simplest single summary of myself?” Why am I afraid to go there? Why does dance wrap it all together for me?

I invite you to join me to say this in the least meaningful of mediums, words.
I am at

Tim Hurst

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Marroquin Performance

To The Dancer
After seeing Sharon Marroquin’s Las Cuatros Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees.

When I experience your creation, my neurons not only mirror a creation, my mirror is of you, of each performer, connecting everything.

Thank you for the bravery of your dance to touch the anguish of a repeated life, the resplendence of clarity, the despair of conflicting lives, the freshness of new birth.

A scientist can record the pathways in you, in me, mirroring every second of your creation.
Yet you and I are the experience of everything connecting, an experience beyond any pathway.

My mirroring of your creation creates a garden of seedlings exponentially unique in myself. Together we create a fresh garden of seedlings that create structures that connect us all in unique ways.

We build worlds with each dance that speak for themselves and create fresh worlds.
Tim Hurst. 03/24/17

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Live Audience

Experienced two dance performances in two days and a third one a week ago. Watching the audiences after each performance was a superb treat in itself. Antique persons like myself walk light on their feet. The rhythm of going to greet each other become a movie in itself.

My experiences covered a dance map, Modern Dance with Sharon Marroquin’s Las Cuatro Estaciones, Tap Dance with Acia Gray’s Listen, and Ballet with Stephen Mill’s The Magic Flute. Each one filled their audiences with a renewal beyond my ability to express in words.

The delight I feel is no mistake. My favorite neuroscientist Daniel Levitin woke up our awareness of mirror neurons “that fire both when performing an action and when observing someone else perform an action.” He says in This is Your Brain on Music” that both music and dance may be the “fundamental messengers…across individuals and generations…through which develop our beliefs, obsessions, and all art.”

How does this happen? Levitin says about music “The multiple reinforcing cues of a good song–rhythm, melody, and contour–cause music to stick in our heads.” This same vocabulary and effect applies to dance, and research is gathering about body-brain networks forming from both dancing and observing dance.

What I observe after these three dance performances is a particular kind of lightness and subtle poignancy that is unique to the combination of dance and music. The dancer is transferring an experience of something beyond our everyday celebrations.

Each dancer is transmitting their unique experience of personal excellence and also their experience of empathy for the experience of other dancers. We tap straight into that experience and into the courage of each dancer as they gather and sort the makings of themselves as a person, a character, and a messenger directly to our cells.

With dance the experience of watching a friend or a child dance is even more poignant. Add to that the possibility of experiencing a dance class with even the fundamentals of dance can be life changing. These are both opportunities to tap in to the very detailed experiences of dedicated dancers. Commercial over.

I take these experiences with me, of each individual dancer and their messages bonded together. I feel their messages. I know them inside of me. These messages are of hope for the next moments as I yearn for a combination of lightness and power. This is a particular kind of power that music and dance transmit. These are fundamental messages that I can now access.
Tim Hurst 04/01/17

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Dance Breakthrough

Finally!  We begin to understand dance from a viewer’s point of view and see how much interaction is taking place in the whole human system.  Here are some links to interactive video of dance with visual annotation of movement lines, cues, and alignments.

From this point, we can really look at a fraction of the information that our brains and bodies are taking in as we view dance.  I want to see the connections in the viewer’s brain as they interact with each piece of information.  And I want to hear the stories of choreographers and viewers as they encounter their own surprises, emotions, memories, wishes, and unknowable spaces where the dance takes them.

Thank you to Deborah Hay for her work that has immensely influenced the direction of this exploration.

 Tim Hurst04/13/13

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Real live audience

@Tapestry show Ears Wide Open.  Again Tapestry breaks open the true connection between performer and audience.  The bond is real, like a flamenco club where every person there seizes the moment as if it were a treasure waiting to be captured and opened in the next moment.  There is no waiting or wondering in this audience connection, no time to analyze what is liked and what is perfect.  Performers are real, in a real conversation with each other and they are talking with us the audience.  Emotions are real explorations of territory both understood and unknown.  We all agree to journey together, to feel the swell and the expanse of a mutual improvisation.

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Nina Martin to Deborah Hay

Nina dances a response to Deborah’s piece “No Time to Fly” at symposium honoring Deborah Hay’s life achievement. 040810

A glistening orange jester enters reminding of the black and white mime who appeared from we know not where.

The orange dancer takes us into a room with clear parameters, delighting us with nuances and shadings of the path to be studied.  We are pleasantly reminded of the difficult passage we squeezed through as we experienced the black and white mime’s movements the day before.

The orange leg swings with a familiar momentum.  Ahh, we take a sigh of relief to see that swinging friend, a momentum only insinuated by the black and white mime.  It was as if the mime wished only to initiate the gesture and it was our responsibility to complete it.

So I am here mulling over the places the mime took me, human pomp and humility, canyons of grandeur, ancestral tragedy, a delighted commentary on where we are not, and a chronicle of something like the rise and demise of spirituality as  embodied in feeling states.

I immensely appreciate Nina’s personal response and responding in movement.  It is the response I would have wished from her.  I loved that Nina’s dance was asking the question, “What is this? and “Why is it so hard to get?”  I completely concur.

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Understand not Deborah Hay

I understand you not Deborah Hay.  When I start to write your name it comes out Hah and then Hey and I wonder if next would be Hee Hee, before I finally type Hay.

Watching you dance, I am totally engaged in I know not what.  I am pulled close, pushed away, taunted to laugh or cry as if it were all the same.  My brain waits on edge for a familiar momentum that will carry my spirit out of my body.  Yet where I am taken is into the depths of my body where I am asked to own up to something, something I probably know but have long ago buried the desire to know.

Instead of the exhilaration of flight that my body yearns for, I am challenged moment by moment.  Instead of simple reminders of the beauty that under girds all life, you insist that I look at a spirit world where life and death are a constant swirl of positives and negatives.

Your refusal to rely on familiar patterns throws me instantly into a glaring stare into myself.  As with any entry into the self, I am uncomfortable.  I must decide to look and go into the next moment or withdraw into unconsciousness or irritation.

Your dancing brings me every moment to “Here.  Here.  Now here.  Here Now.”  And once I have made the choice to join you for that moment, I am hugely and fabulously engaged.  Engaged in my own life, that is my goal after all.