Posted on

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

Posted on

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

Posted on

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

Posted on

Dance Basic Ease

Today i need to quiet myself from being busy and worrying. I follow my process of slow circular movement crossing the midline of my body. I do not need the busy activity of the spin but instead gently move arms, palms facing, back and forth across my spine.

My head is networked to balance on my spine with a slight bobble as my eyes and head move the opposite direction of my hands. My hands face each other, arms easily outstretch away from my body. Signals from my spine lift my elbows and soften my hands as they travel in spiral movements up each vertebra of my spine.

My experience is connection of my entire self, a sensation of ease.

It is this study of ease that make up my experiments to find a balance of directed and collaborative movement. The networking in today’s movement comes from Tai Chi but I understand the principles from the detailed training of Ballet and Modern Dance.

I keep trying to verbalize the simplicity of the Ballet learning process. I try to trace the principles in action.

The basis is that energy must be allowed to move through me. A dance image allows my arms to float up. My arms lift from energy traveling from my spine, under my shoulders and around my arms. The action is more than muscles moving from mental direction or from intentional force. .

The pathway of the energy is a spiral traveling through my arms and beyond each finger. The palms facing activate the connection of energy between each hand.

Basically an energy field is created between my arms and energy connections of my torso that begin and end at my spine.

The training of energy movement is the focus. Anatomy is adjusted to encourage the easy flow of energy. Arms are softened by the spiral of energy passing through. Elbow, wrist, and finger joints are flexible from energy passing through their gently curved positions.

The result of this focus is an approach to anatomy as alignment to foster easy flow of energy. Maintaining an erect spine is no longer the commands to hold myself up and pull my shoulders back. Each vertebra is balancing within a flow of energy that is traveling through and spiraling around my spine.

This detailed understanding of movement is why Ballet and Modern Dance have been at the forefront of innovation in training for both flexibility and strength. The effects are a deeper understanding of injury prevention and movement rehabilitation.

One goal is an ease of movement in any direction responsive to any variation of speed, intensity, and quality such as lightness or heaviness. Another goal is the networking of energy signals that create a continual energy loop through the horizontal plane of the arms and the vertical one of the spine. The image of energy loops are applied to every area of the body to respond as a supportive network.

The image of spiral energy is one key to dance as a way to generate delight by engaging the entire person.

I experience the image of spiral energy as a way to generate new connections, a way to go beyond my limitations, and a way to respond to strains to avoid injury.
Tim Hurst 03/25/18