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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

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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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Dance Class Questions

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.

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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Dancing Beyond Experiment

My study is to dance beyond what i know by preparing for the surprises in the movement of my physical body, my intention, emotion, and sensation. I work with energy as the basis for building signal networks in all these forms of movement.

I do this by working directly with the shift of focus between making specific connections to build signal networks and a focus on all energy connections happening at once.

Concentrating on the brain body ability to make distinctions between two connections, I concentrate on finding the simplest connections and vary the connections in one way to find new connections.

Dance is the perfect model for me to follow this process of simplicity growing into complexity by adding variation.

The principles of dance are directed toward this study of focus. The binary approach takes two realms of study and compares them. I am specifically interested in the variations between more and less force, circular and spiraled movement, extension and elevation of movement, directed action and imagery for moving energy.

My study is centered around my weaknesses of trying to force my movement and direct every action and my resistance to patterned and structured movement that seems to emphasize those weaknesses.

My process is derived from Ballet and Modern Dance and informed by study of many forms of technique, therapy, and improvisational dance.

Every day I set out with the goal to renew connections of energy and to discover new connections.

I lay on the floor and I stand. I move my entire body with each movement establishing support networks to move in every direction, with different levels of speed, intensity, and dynamic quality.

I use simple movements initiating from spine signals that go outward and inward.
i vary the directions of signals to go in the same and opposite directions.
I vary the movements from vertical with the spine to horizontal crossing the spine.

I establish a central image of spreading and elevating by following the action of my diaphragm expanding for inhaling and rising for the exhale. Then I transfer this image by pairing the breathing diaphragm with other diaphragms and platforms throughout my body.

I use spiral imagery of the double helix to enhance changing focus within continual movement and intimate relationships between different networks.

I check myself to make sure movement is a process of entering delight. If I am struggling and feeling strain, I simplify the connections and experiment with changes in the size and speed of my movements.
Tim Hurst 03/23/18

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Dancing Beyond

Dancing Beyond 032318 Tim Hurst

My experience of dancers and dancing is entering delight. Delight is the curiosity and anticipation of connecting everything that I know of myself and a willingness to prepare for any surprises I have never known before.

Movement is the agility of transforming energy much like cells dividing to create more life. The characteristics and qualities of movement are much like the sound wave and the light wave that is in perpetual variation and combination of color and intensity.

My shaping of energy is entering this realm of creation and recreation. My experience is agility of connecting and reconnecting energy.

Agility is the readiness, the awareness, and the willingness to move within all the types of energy that I represent as my self.

Agility is my movement as a person. My experience is like balance of human erectness that goes beyond the wobble, like breathing that goes beyond the actions of inhaling and exhaling, the emotion that goes beyond self control, the initiation of thought that goes beyond the physical circumstances.

What emerges is intimate relationship with every form of energy inside and outside myself. My experience is like an image of the spiral, the double helix of DNA strands. Every movement is a relationship that fosters connection of energy.

The character of movement is life giving and life receiving, energy expended and rejuvenated, energy spreading and rising into the new life of the spiral.

The study I seek is to enter this realm of life that is perpetually interactive within the experience of intimacy that is given and received. Within this realm, there are all the continuums of more and less, all the spectrums of light and sound.

Entering this realm is facing the changes from certainty to uncertainty, boldness to subtlety, confidence to vulnerability, The basis is reaching into the unfamiliar while embracing the familiarity of the self.

Simply, we act and we reflect. We gather and we sort. We shape a self that reflects as concise imagery and physical movement.

Where I find this study is in three disciplines that have grown from the same source, music, dance, and religion.

Each of these disciplines deal with the agility to interconnect every form of energy. They choose as their focus the shifting point between the goal and the image beyond the goal.

This shift of focus between self energy and other energy is the basis of their study that is skillful yet goes beyond any expectation.

The demands of each discipline is rigorous because the human system wants certainty, stability, and predictability. For this reason, today’s culture attempts to both stand in awe of dance, music, and religion while at the same time explaining them away as minor realms of study.
TIm Hurst 03/23/18

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Ballet as Simple

The more stressed I become with running a business and worrying about money,the more I search for ways to release the stress in my body. It has taken many years to understand the instant relief that dance gives me.

Trying many forms of dance I decided that my body was not going to do what I asked it to do. So I became an improvisational dancer. I learned about the qualities of movement without worrying about precision.

Searching for more control of my body, I studied Pilates as a form of exercise based on Ballet and Modern Dance. I discovered that I do not have the concentration or the memory structure to make ten commands at once to make my body move correctly. Something was not connecting.

Then I discovered that Ballet simplified commands for my whole body into a network of movements. The very beginning movement, the plié, seems like simple movements of bending the legs, lowering the body, and lifting the arms. When I discovered the basis of this simple, whole body movement, I knew this was the clarity of learning I was looking for.

Pilates identified one principle of Ballet that looked hopeful. They call it the Core, meaning the musculature, nerves, blood flow, around the skeletal center of the body, the spine. Pilates strengthens and stretches the muscles around the spine using an exercise model.

When I began to take Ballet, the Core became related to movement of my whole body with simple commands. Those commands were signals originating at the spine. This sounds a little detailed but I had to have a way to connect my movements that seemed to ignore my commands.

The more I studied the simplest Ballet movements I realized three things. Ballet teaches movements as signals that start at different areas of the spine. A network of signals can move my whole body with one command. And third, when several networked movements are bundled as a phrase, I learn how the effort of one movement supports the next movement.

So my study of Ballet is to train my spine to send and receive signals that guide my body movements. This seems to work because my muscles surprise me by releasing to let the signals pass through.

An added benefit is that watching other dancers learn, I am able to identify the networks that should be connecting for me. For me to get to the networks, I have to go into much more detail than the average person. This drives my Pilates teachers crazy with so many questions and requests to understand what connects to what. Ballet teachers move us through the phrases and ask us to experiment with balance and different speeds to get the connections between movements and to build networks of signals.
Tim Hurst 02/07/18

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Dancing the Self

One of the opportunities of dance is to let all of myself come through my movement. Letting all of myself show seems a bit out of control and the surprise of an unknown part of myself showing up can be a problem.

Because of difficulty learning patterns and having to relearn them every day, I developed several approaches that put me right at the center of my fears and my surprise. Every pattern had to be improvised and shifted from different directions, moods, and intensities. Nothing seemed to store in a concrete way so my memory had to be more like a poem of images than a set of lines with precise positions and angles.

This was especially interesting when performing memorized music or ballroom dance with a partner. I would basically enter a feeling state that included a series of experiences. Inevitably I would enter a blank space and have to improvise my way back into the series. Remembering lines in plays was the same issue.

My approach was to study movement exercises for theater and Modern Dance to get an idea of pattern while finding different dimensions of emotion and intensity. I gradually studied more and more improvisational dance forms with open possibilities for creating surprising patterns. I created performances that were so internal that I would begin with only an image and allow my movement to flow.

The results were that I would indeed find surprise that might be a blockage in myself that froze my thoughts and movements or I would create such a vulnerable place in myself that I was dancing my fear rather than allowing my self to come through.

Watching dancers has been my life and standing outside of the world of patterns has been interesting. I watch for how the person comes through the pattern and how alive that makes the pattern. From this perspective I naturally gravitate to dance that has a range of emotions and intensities. If the patterns of a dance do not shift from delight to seriousness, then I look for the individual dancer who allows themselves to experience a variety of intensities.

So my recurring question is how the dancer who experiences a full range of emotion and intensities relates to the patterns of the dance. Since dance is an interactive form, an even more involving question is how their individual experience connects with their fellow dancers and to the audience participants in their dance.

In my search I have discovered how movement patterns and the dance class methodically take a dancer into the realms of making these shifts of experience. Because dance engages every part of the person, each dancer recognizes the unending number of connections in different ways and at different stages of their learning.

So my process of watching dance is to experience each dancer as a unique composite of experience. This is a special delight since I can experience the baby, the child dancer, the professional or the beginner adult of all ages.

Then I have taken those questions to ask how I, a relative outsider in the realm of pattern, can enter the dancer’s experience of shifting perspectives and qualities of movement, emotion, thought, and even interaction with others.

With my round about ways of learning dance, I began to ask how I could really enter the experience of dance as a way of varying not just the emotion and intensity but also the pattern.

Having studied in depth several approaches to dance improvisation, movement meditation, singing, and theater, I came to the science of dance as we know it, Ballet. Taking ballet for the first time at mid-life was a rush of energy I had not felt. Maybe all those years of watching added up to give me a rudimentary structure to build on.

All this clarity of energy made my blocks even clearer. No area of my body would respond to a command and there were so many commands at once. Pull this, lower this, send energy here then there. I had to take one command to one body area at a time. That meant private class which limited my experience of learning with other dancers.

I enrolled in Pilates, in Balance Class, in combinations of Modern Dance and yoga, and finally in Floor-Barre directly related to Ballet movement. I was still caught in the command issue of trying to move this, hold that, and somehow hold it there. Obviously I still had no storage for the pattern necessary to put all this together.

So I started improvising Ballet movement and trying to find a way to simplify the commands in a way I could learn the movement. My desire is more than that. I want to experience what the dancer experiences when that one dancer enters the whole person that can shift from delight to seriousness, from laughter to reflection, from pattern to emotion in all its intensities.

To remember and to clarify all my rambling experiments, I have written this blog. Those who can wander with me are welcome.
Tim Hurst 01/22/18

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Balance Signals Spinning

I am curious about how the arms and head affect balance in dancing. Obviously Ballet and Modern Dance have developed intricate use of the arms and head for spinning.

One of my first Modern Dance teachers, Dee McCandless, studied Sufi spinning dances. I love this spinning because I can vary the use of my arms and head as they float above the rise and fall of my legs and feet.

I must also hold an awareness of balance in each movement, in the transitions to an opposite direction, and at sudden stops in stillness.

The sensation of the arms is floating up in the wind created by spinning. The pathway the arms can follow is similar to Ballet in extending outward, one arm raising while the other is extended, or both arms easily raised. The hands can be facing down, up, or one hand up and the other down.

The curved pathway of my arms and head interests me, not a direct forced line but a curve or as the spin progresses, a variety of curves and spirals that grow and subside with the intensity of the spin.

It is at the transitions of direction or speed or stopping that I get to observe the spiral motions of my arms and head. The sensation is of the spirals continuing with slight variations.

I play with slight variations on contrary motion and then return to simple spinning. Observing my balance and ability to allow the movements to grow is an interesting process.

I return to experiment with continuous spiral pathways in all my Ballet and Modern balances. I explore my wobble while learning to balance and ask if curved pathways can give insight into my learning.
Tim Hurst. 04/15/17

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Dance Double Instruction

There is another way Ballet seemed to be a necessity. It was something about the way every thing was explained, how to move, how to align the body, how to hold attention even in stillness.

I finally realized that there were two ways of instructing. One was directed action, keep the hip bones here, the spine here, the head here. the knees, and on and on throughout the body. Another way was using imagery, send energy out the top of your head, feel as if you have a string attached to the top of your head.

This double kind of instruction was exactly what I needed to both focus my attention for more coordination and also to open my perspective with imagery. I was familiar with imagery from Modern Dance and from improvisation of many kinds yet I was managing to avoid the basic coordination skills and the rhythmic musical elements that Ballet offered.

What Is the Advantage of Imagery?

So I kept asking what it was about imagery that helped so much in accomplishing specific skills. Asking this question helped me to realize that often “sending” was a central concept of the image. It was either sending energy to or sending energy through, or sending energy for a purpose like pressing the heel into the floor. Then there were the receiving images, feel the arms floating up, feel yourself rising to a peak when you leave the floor, feel the inner edges of your arms and legs as they open.

I began to see a common thread of what “sending” meant. In a variety of classes I was asked to send energy or light, to initiate an impulse, to imagine movement following arcs and spirals. And finally in Floor-BarreTM, the vocabulary came clear with the image of sending a

What is Unique about a Dancer Sending and Receiving Signals

I began to experiment with signals as a major element of my dance training. This is what every dancer does but talks about it differently. The concept of signals is perfect for the Double Instruction of dance.

Research says that we shift our focus between two networks, one is a directed focus to accomplish tasks and goals. Another network is a broader view including interconnections between a person and other forces and other people. This is the difference between focusing on the tree or the forest, positive space and negative space. Our brain toggles between one and the other.

With dance instruction there is the directed signal to work on specific technique and also there is the image which gives an inclusive view of the entire person interconnecting all kinds of signals.

Dance, with Ballet as a model, trains the toggling between a goal focus for detailed coordinated technique and a broad focus driven by imagery that interrelates signal networks with limited directed signals and with limited force

The advantages of the study of signals are many.

Signals are in continuous motion within and between every cell.
Signals are instantaneous.
Signals are organized into networks and are constantly in flux.
Signals can be altered and reorganized by human awareness and training.
Signals can be sorted and arranged to form sums of self as in song, dance, or hypothesis.
Signals can be sent within the person or be sent beyond the body.
Signals can interact with other people and other life forms.
Signals interconnect networks whether they be muscular, lymphatic, glandular, circulatory, or neurological.
Signals carry information based on intention, anticipation, sensation, emotion.
Signals are interactive, both sending and receiving information.
Signals can store memory in any part of the body.
Signals can be vital even when the physical properties of organs and muscles are injured or deteriorating.
Signals can rejuvenate energy and create momentum using a wave motion.
Signals can bypass what we think is possible.
Signals can be varied in speed, duration, emphasis, and with a range of qualities.
Tim Hurst 02.18.17

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Ballet Signals

Ballet Signals. 011817. Tim Hurst

The language of ballet has been about signals all along. Sent energy was the phrase. Or the image, push against the floor before you rise. Or rise up through the top of your head.

All these phrases are saying, send the signal through the body and to a destination either in the body or extending into space beyond the body.

The implication is that the signal carries an enormous amount of data including intent, emotion, quality of motion, and a circular pathway that creates momentum and revives energy. The signal is also receiving information for reflection and creation of a personal imprint of the moment.

My personal take on this today is signals to the heels that are clarified in Floor-BarreTM and left to action words in Ballet.

012117. Tim Hurst

Ballet as a Model for Dance

I avoided Ballet for many years and then only took a few private classes. When I finally took a class at age 50, I fell in love not only with Ballet but also with my dearest love, Ginger. As usual I took the smallest learning from a few Ballet classes and went away for several years to let my body brain integrate the principles into my daily dance.

In Ballet I found the treasurers of dance condensed and clearly communicated. My love of dance found a power I had not felt before. Trying to express the clarity of my Ballet experience has taken many years. Coming back to Ballet class is my dream.

Finally I have distilled what I love about Ballet.

I love especially anticipating each movement with rhythm and the curiosity of that moment.

I love the simplicity of adding skills in combinations and crafting agility in every direction and level.

I love the simplicity of moving my entire body as a unit, arms, legs, feet, hands, spine, head, and eyes.

I love the experience of instant sensation combining what I feel, see, hear, touch, and express.

I love the experience of music within myself as I live melody, harmony, rhythm, balance and stillness.

I love the unending possibilities of qualities and speed of movement that I can vary for more or less force and emphasis.

I love that I am in total concentration and at the same time I am able to rise above fear and worry.

And of course I love springing and flying through space with shape and emotion.

How does Ballet captivate me in such a special way?

First, Ballet catches me at my two life long necessities. One to coordinate my body brain that seems to block itself and take a long time to develop skills. Two to go beyond myself with all my limiting beliefs and fears.

Ballet satisfies both in so many ways. I love that movement is connected as rhythm and melody even with positions and poses that actively anticipate transitions.

Also, Ballet seems to capture me because I am at once focusing on initiating a specific movement and also responding with my whole body and emotion. My experience is a free flowing energy with an ease of concentration and limited amount of force.

Of course the free flow and the ease of moving are a process involving lots of detailed work. Dance has always been the way I balance ease of movement with a desire to force my body to coordinate. Seeking this balance did not come easy and I responded by bouncing between group classes and private study.

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Stillness in Workouts

Stillness for the dancer is very different and gives insight into how we train our bodies. The information going through a dancer’s mind and body is vast. Stillness becomes an active inner sensation perceiving every part of the body continuing to move. This active sensation of stillness has dimension and can expand or contract energy beyond the body.

In everyday terms we think of stillness as inactive. For the dancer stillness is a musical term that gives active space and rhythm to a melodic flow of energy.

Stillness is a part of ballet training when the dancer seems to pause after a melodic phrase. This moment is filled with so much information for the dancer and for the audience who understand the importance of stillness.

Stillness at these completion points holds many images and they are understood in different ways by each dancer. Like the child spinning until falling, the dancer allows the motion in the body to equalize and return to a balanced state. This experience is one of gathering energy. The entire person is flooded with a kind of integration of everything that has happened and what that means to the rhythms of the breath, the senses, the emotions, and the understanding of the self.

For the dancer who is prepared to receive this much information, the stillness moment is a celebration of arriving with all the clarity of each success and also each wavering variation that may be seen as error.

For those of us simply basking in the joys of ballet, stillness comes to mean a basic jiggling of our energy back into place. The teacher asks us to hold the moment after a simple phrase. That is our time to breath and to integrate the connections we are making throughout our entire body brain networks.

For other dancers and other workouts, stillness plays an important role. After a workout, rather than hanging our heads and feeling overwhelmed, we can supercharge the end of the workout, or a rotation, or a distance run.

The principles are simple. When able, stand solidly on both feet. Enjoy the energy flowing through the entire body. Stand tall. Eyes are open. Accept the exhilaration of thoughts and hopes filled with so much energy. Appreciate the fullness of breath and the release of everything you are in this moment. These moments calibrate and integrate every experience in your workout, your creation of the day.

For the aging heart, these principles begin with the wisdom of the race horse trainer who takes a cool down walk after an intense sprint. Moving slowly in place or in a circle allows the heart to equalize. Eyes up when possible is a welcoming of breath through the entire body. Then take your moment of stillness.

The experience of this moment is worth a thousand meditations attempting to arrive at a balanced state. And yet there is a final closing step that we can learn from meditations. That is thanking ourselves. Yes for this little part of our workout, for this moment in our day, the greatest arrival is gratitude.

We forget that when we came to workout or to dance, our goal was to benefit ourselves. We did not exert ourselves so we could prove that injury is worth the effort. We came to benefit ourselves.

So the simple conclusion of every movement phrase is a quiet, “thank you!” The other messages might be “yes!” or “not quite there,” but the momentary conclusion is one of complete arrival at integration, “Thank You!”