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Receiving Signals

The more I explore the physical nature of signals, the more I realize the importance of receiving information from the signals I send. When I send a signal usually from different areas of the spine, I must be willing to receive the messages coming back to me. We call it feedback and the mechanical training used to be called bio-feedback.

It seems like by attending to the physical signal, my desire for directed and controlled movement takes over. I leave out the receiving signal and what I lose is the quality of the movement.

Without the quality, it is like a singer that is mechanical because of ignoring the emotion and the hopes for surprise in every moment.

With dancing, the two way nature of the signal is built in to the training. The Ballet class is built around this receptivity experimenting with adding variations to simple movements, with melodic and rhythmic connecting of movement, and with pauses for silent integration.

At each stage of training the importance of listening to the messages from my body and from my self become as important as perfecting a skill. I have to keep coming to terms with another important variation in dancing, different levels of force.

When I improvise, the use of force blends one movement into another. When learning a movement I rely on excessive force with the belief that I can make myself learn the movement if I can just control it.

That is a lesson I have to learn over and over in ballet class, to allow myself to move freely through the variations in the barre and in the difficult combinations. The Ballet class subtly weaves different levels of force into each combination of movements.

My experiment inside and outside class is to explore each of these kinds of receptivity. In my personal practice I vary the speed of my movements, slow to extremely slow and then to faster movement.

In private study I seek out the dance researchers who understand the importance of receiving messages while perfecting the agility in sending signals. For me these are practitioners of Floor-BarreTM, Skinner, Feldenkreis, and Alexander Technique, along with the somatic studies of Body-Mind-Centering and Continuum.

Each of these detailed studies of movement understand the importance of a receptive and responsive stillness defined as Constructive Rest Position by Liz Koch in The Psoas Book.