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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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Hovering Torso Prancing Legs

Today at the Lake Travis beach, Ginger and I went for a walk. I explored an experiment that had occurred to me two days ago. Today I identified what the image is.

My torso is hovering over my legs like a glider that is banking and swiveling in every direction. I was able to feel the hovering sensation because I had recently discovered what it really meant to lift the torso up away from the hips and legs. I had also not understood in Ballet class about the hips operating as a part of the legs.

The discoveries are so interesting because I am fascinated by the way a dancer initiates any movement with a sense of delight. Also I am convinced that dancers training and personal imagery is directed towards clarifying the signals that pass through the body.

This is important for me today because I have strained all the muscles on the right side of my torso. Sarah Brumgart a dancer turned massage therapist spent an afternoon identifying all those aching and painful muscle connections that I could not bring my self to stretch.

This particular experiment was important because I began signals at the lower torso and passed signals through the most painful areas to areas of the back that could easily move.

My hovering torso seems to originate in the suspended diaphragm under my arms in the back. Dana Lewis distinguishes the movement across this area as spreading which is an expansive, extending movement.

With a lifting motion, that Dana also insisted I learn, I initiate a supportive network of signals from the pelvic floor that connect under my ribs all around my body. Shifting the focus of my upper torso felt fluid and made it easy to tilt to a diagonal and bank into a turn that curved my entire body all the way around.

The amazing sensation was that all this movement is initiated in the hovering torso. My legs were tripping along following the movement coming from above. I lifted my torso as if it were independent of my legs and my legs felt free to spring quickly to catch the fluidity of my torso.

This is entirely different from the way I walk. I could not imagine returning to my usual heavy lumbering ahead movement lifting and lowering my legs. As subtle and small as my movements were, my legs felt as if they were flying, a similar image to hovering in my torso.

Of course, my sensation of seeing and thinking was different as well. This is harder to describe. My eye brows expanded. The base of my skull pulled a little up and slightly back freeing also my top vertebra to tilt and bob with every movement.

All these movements reminded me of an experimentation I did with the image of the Gypsy Poney. I paired the movement of my feet springing while lifting the back of my head like the bowing of the Poney’s neck. This is a new sensation of pairiing prancing feet with a raised and arched neck.

My focus widened at my brow and I notice the sensation of my upper torso riding above, like the hovering image, while my feet pranced lightly changing direction easily. My widening focus was a different state of connection between movement, thought, perception, and emotion.
Tim Hurst 10/16/17

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What’s a Dancer Do?

I stand in the presence of dancers in awe of the worlds that they experience every day. Not that dancers are different from anyone else. It just the level and quality of their experience touches me.

In my rough understanding of mathematics, there is this elegance of binary shifts that balances everything. Dance is not only shifts in the intricacies of physical experience but also shifting between different levels of focus and an agility to move between different dimensions.

My search then is to experience all those different kinds of shifts. I choose Ballet as a starting point because of its completeness as a discipline and because I come as a relatively fresh beginner. My love of metaphor gives me a perspective on the detailed use of imagery in Ballet. Flights of fantasy I try to reserve for my poetry yet I will push the patience of the experienced dancer. In any case, I hope my experiments raise questions and maybe even alternate responses from dancers both beginners and professionals.

My belief is that dance instruction challenges each dancer to build a composite of imagery that fits their body and their personal learning style. I explore what that composite is for me.

What drives me to experiment, even as I venture into many ambiguous areas, is the delight and exuberance I see in dancers from the toddler to the professional. I see a brightness that inevitably gives their bodies a sense of springing. I see an agility to change directions physically as well as in thought and emotion. I see their bodies as an integrated network, connecting and reconnecting every moment. I see the inner workings of curiosity based on anticipation, experimentation, and surprise. And most of all I see the formation of a growing self with a new hypothesis every moment.

Needless to say, I am inspired by dance and by dancers.

I can not leave out what is most important. When I watch dancers preparing for a class or a performance, I see the attention of a dedicated yogi. The dancers meditative focus is light and malleable while attending to the detail of how their body is working that day. It seems that within every part of dance training there is built in injury prevention.

I want to experience that agility to direct my body while listening to every nuance of sensation and information from every part of myself.
Tim Hurst 07/13/17

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Dance Experiemnt Goals

A current summary of my goals for daily experiments.

I experience dancers as models of agility who experiment daily with a range of variations for specific results in skill, attention, focus, and exuberance for learning.

I want to experience how the dancer can access every part of the body brain.

I want to experience the dancer’s curiosity and surprise with each set of variations.

I want to discover how dancer’s build signal networks throughout the body.

I want to experience signals as instantaneous connections that build networks throughout my body.

I want the agility to vary the qualities of signals as bundles of physicality, emotion, sensation, perception, and rejuvenation.

I want the agility to alternate my focus between a micro and a macro view within every system of myself.

Likewise I want the agility to direct my self formation and also to release my attention to interconnections too complex for the body brain to conceptualize.

I want to experience continuous movement as forming myself in relation to other life.

I want the agility to apply imagery as a way to shape the forming of myself.

I want to experience my movement as melody and rhythm to build ongoing synopsis and markers of my growth.
Tim Hurst 07/31/17

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Pelvic Floor Test

Test one, A ballet class for teachers way beyond my level. I want to see and feel the difference, to experience being in the middle of greatness grown over a life time.

Of course I was inept, searching, following key people. In the later part of the barre my frappe was very small and feeling the rhythm more than doing the movement.

Oh yes, the pelvic floor test. I expanded my focus to the whole body out of necessity. Did not feel or direct the pelvic floor. The awareness of a broadness was there, definitely a floor all the way through my body to the outer edges.

Signals easily passed into my standing leg as the other leg worked outwards. Develope and extensions felt more certain even with my limited agility.

What I did feel in a more full way was the rhythm and the melody as a context of every movement. Watching the center work my body grew a voracious appetite for the delight of melding personality and melody into dance.

Of course the beauty of each person had to be meshed with the struggle between clarity and error. So I saw the “I am not enough” yearning of the experienced dancer reaching for more.

Dear dancer, It is always an honor to be in the presence of your courageous process. You are a delight to experience in the rough and in the polish.
Tim Hurst 05/06/17

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Dance Signals Soft

How can my experience of the movement change when I choose a soft or subtle quality for the signal? I want to try varying signal qualities such as intensity, emphasis, and amount of force.

I find myself directing and wanting to force all my movements. Then I move into a different world all together. Soft, gentle, or subtle are a challenge. There are as many different approaches as there are dancers. What is it for me?

My first attempts are to move slower but a fast movement can also be soft. I remember to bring the qualities of curiosity, anticipation, and receiving the signal of softness as well as sending. Playing with weight I can vary the quality of softness from heavy yet buoyant like a buoy and floating like a balloon.

I want to try a new image. What if my signals were not direct but were a bursting array of signals? The only image that comes is a waterfall with trillions of different size drops, mist, and lots of sound.

Sending signals from the spine is clear yet I remember Deborah Hay describing sending energy through the Solar Plexis. This image gave me a completely different experience and I can vary the amount of power I use from subtle to bold.

Nina Martin describes sending multiple signals in her study of Rewiring the body. The process is to send many random signals from the spine to all areas of the body. My movement becomes responsive, loose, and unplanned.

Applying this process to soft movement is to send many signals covering a wide area of the body. I can not “think” that many signals and my body gives in to a quality of softness.

For another experiment, I send many signals on pathways with loops and spirals, allowing them to go where they will. My movement is my central focus with the awareness that all the complexity of emotion and sensation can be carried in so much variety.

The way Deborah Hay describes this process is paying attention to trillions of cells at once, each with their own intelligence, perception, and pathways.

Once I have explored all these signals, moving with softness is different and may require only a memory of my self navigating moment by moment from decisive to reflection, from force to ease. Images can occur on their own or be brought up when needed.

Now it is time to receive all this in a Ballet reverence.
Tim Hurst. 04/07/17

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Experiment Dance Meditation

Continuing experiments with sending and receiving signals, my wish is to prepare my attention for the unexpected and become responsive to the messages of my body, my self.

I practice movement meditations that blend micro movements, spinning, and singing. One element of dance that is consistent to these experiments is curved motion, rising and falling in every movement and movement patterns that involve loops and spirals.

I may follow a sequence but mostly I practice listening to my inner messages and making shifts of direction and using pauses that seem to satisfy the flow of my sensations, emotions, thoughts.

Dance incorporates this kind of responsive meditation at the beginning of each Ballet or Modern class. These beginning sequences are often called Barre whether standing or laying.

A dance approach to meditation is different. For me it is important to understand what is involved in meditation and how it can help me to be more receptive to internal and external signals.

Dance has inspired and absorbed the wisdom of many traditions, one is meditation. Meditation is an attempt to be completely receptive, attentive to internal sensations, feelings, and thoughts. The process is to allow all these inner experiences to flow through the self awareness without interruption. By following this process, the hope is to train ourselves to an agility in our thoughts, emotions, and eventually our actions. The results can be peaceful or can be a flood of unattended emotions and fears that must be allowed to work their way through our self awareness.

Meditation is a ritual to follow and has been associated with holding ourselves in stillness and sometimes in a variety of positions as in Yoga.

Dance has also inspired and absorbed the wisdom of interactive prayer. Interactive prayer is the sending and receiving of messages that are designed to open the doorways to the person. Messages sent vary from gratitude to asking for openness. Messages received also vary from a kind of spacious anticipation to specific insights or even visions.

Interactive prayer is also a ritual that has been associated with both stillness, with singing, and with movement. Examples of singing range from communal singing to ritual chants. Examples of movement are monks walking a labyrinth and Sufi spinning dances.

Dance training mirrors this process as each dancer develops a receptivity to their internal messages, asks for an attitude of curiosity for the next moment, responds with melodic sequences that reflect their discoveries, and then hold a moment of silence to allow their whole self to integrate these experiences.
Tim Hurst. 04/05/17. D

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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.