My dance journey makes me laugh. I seem to make progress and then take many detours. First I work through a tangle of different ways of learning. Then I confront a confusing array of experiences that demand to be expressed. Knowing this process, I have the utmost respect for any dancer who has enough courage and delight to know themselves and express it.
Dancing was always a desire for me even though I would become so overloaded that my thoughts and movement would freeze. One breakthrough came when I had the same experience with acting at sixteen years old. My theater teacher gave me a Michael Chekhov book of acting exercises. I spent the next six years practicing these exercises learning to vary the qualities of movement, of signals that can travel through and around the body.
Sports have been important ways to develop an intense focus for movement learning. But I understood that my process would be a long one. Football required too much intense force and I opted for playing trombone instead. Golf I learned as a ten year old and later in life was surprised at the skills that were there. At twenty five years old It took me two years of dropping a tennis ball and missing the swing to even begin perfecting shots. Swimming took six summers to coordinate the crawl, one for the arms, one for feet, one for feet and arms together, one for breathing and turning my head at the side of the pool, one for arms and head, and finally everything together.
Singing at age thirty five, my teacher Tina Marsh would take a ruler and direct me over and over to lower my tongue. When I stopped lessons, I thought in six years I would have that skill and also the breathing. Actually it was more like twelve years for that one.
Dancing had a similar pattern. I began studying Modern Dance which I love because of the improvisation and the many techniques, Humphries, Hawkins, Cunningham, Graham, and the Utah protégés. I chose to follow the study of improvisation and allow the technique to grow over the years. Deborah Hay was my mentor and I began a journey of trying to sort out my learning process with personal dancing, Contact Improvisation, diagnostic therapists practicing Skinner, Alexander, Feldenkreis, and later Pilates, Gyrotonics, and Floor-BarreTM.
Along with the many forms of body analysis, meditation and healing wove in and out of my experience for years. Singing also returned as a companion to my dancing and performing.
After the delight of classes in tap dancing, Folk and Contra Dancing, Ballroom, Swing, and Argentine Tango, I detoured to understand why I would not retain the patterns of each form and why my body seemed to need chiropractic repeatedly. Then I fell in love with Ballet but could not dedicate myself to it.
Finally I returned to Ballet that gave me a structure, a process, and an understanding of how to train signals to gain access to my self, my emotions, my movement, and to presenting myself as a dance, a song, as a concise imprint of my experience.
Today with these writings I am fulfilling a commitment to clarify how dance works for me.
Tim Hurst. 031517