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Two Sides of Me 2017

Even my sweetheart Ginger straightens me up as my lean to the right revisits me in moments of fatigue. Or perhaps the lean is always there throughout my hours of dancing. With all my awareness and my dancing there are clearly two sides to my movement and distinct sensations. Perhaps my feeling of having to direct every new learned movement is correct times two.

Today I will honor two different worlds. On my left is the world of steadiness, a whole sensation throughout. There is vague sense of having to hold on, a clue from Rachel Meador that my left foot was always gripping the floor as if I were going to fall to the left. On my right is the world of collapse, yielding somehow to a deep sensation of trauma.

There is a reluctance to both sides that do not want to be stirred. One Feldenkreis session with Matt Williams ended with his observation that he had to bypass lots of resistance, find alternate routes to move my legs.

I did not pursue the sessions out of a fear to face the ache I would find there from previous trauma. The reluctance is still there, aches not wanting to be touched but the rewards of movement call too strongly to resist.

So today I enter the delight of the dance with a bit of caution. I know that the echoes from past traumas will ache to not be stirred. Or perhaps they will gladly yield to movement as they want to do.

The image that will replace my caution is two versions of the wave down and the wave up, the rising and falling at the core of a dancer’s awareness. On my left I will introduce a spongy loosening of the firmness. The emphasis will be on the downward wave. For my right side I will introduce a springy playful emphasis on the upward wave.

As I move, the sensations are both very distinct. My left side seems to be in new territory, having to release in new ways to feel the downward wave. My right is likewise a little unsure like it has always relied on having a buddy leading on the left.

I explore the double helix image differently for each side. On the left, I shape the image as collapsing vertically to allow a spongy quality to the movement. For my right, the shape is the rising buoyant nature of the rotating double helix. The quality of springy is a continuous upward feeling.

The images come and go from my awareness giving me the clue that either I do not want to go there or I need to allow the image to work outside my awareness to go past the fear. I gently bring the images back and observe. I will have to repeat this experience many times to get a read on what is actually happening.

My movement on the other hand is very demonstrative. My ankles give way and respond to my arches in very fluid ways. My movement is more sweeping and my looping floor patterns are surprising. I welcome all the movement and notice the ending of phrases going into twists that engage the rotation from hip, through the mid back to the opposite shoulder.

I follow this rotation as I build awareness in turns that move forward into the cross body twist and then into a backward version of the twist for the opposite side of the turn. The 360 degree quality in my body is very satisfying.

Moving side to side I engage the rotation in the Dancer’s Diaphragm under the arms while sensing the rotation in the opposite hip,leg, and feet. My hope is that these movements will give me more awareness and access to the leaning into my right side.

More sessions will tell. I can integrate the experience at the end of the rotations and even feel the echoes of trauma in my hip. Standing still afterwards causes me to avoid the sensations. Perhaps in another session a portabrae will help.
Tim Hurst 12/30/17

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Health Experiements

Health concerns are at the top of my list today. Bladder infected areas are benign but I feel fatigued. Next area to examine is the prostate. Also troublesome are wide swings in blood pressure and sugar response.

Dance experiments have been a daily part of keeping my attitude bright and my focus on the overall healing my system is attempting to keep up with. By keeping my focus clear and shifting throughout my body, I have kept pain areas from tensing and kept other areas from spasms that sympathetically respond to the stressed areas.

So every time I begin a dance phrase, my entire body brain enters a bright attitude toward movement connections. It is the connections that engage the networks of the body brain.

This attitude of responsive inquiry helps my blood pressure. I continue to ask how I can consistently respond to these times of intensity.

Concerning the bladder and prostate, I find help in freeing the area to receive more oxygen. My experiments with movement of the pelvic diaphragm are helpful. Adding the hands to assist the movement makes new connections for the pelvic floor muscle to expand and contract.

I just began consulting with a Physical Therapist to explore their approach to the pelvic diaphragm. With my experiments and study of these muscles in Pilates, I am eager to see the exercises PT’s give to a broad range of people. I am aware that the source of the exercises are from dancers who pioneered the attention to the pelvic floor.

The value of PT is the way they have chosen one aspect of a movement and through repetition explored its effects. I will benefit from the specific exercises and I will ask questions that will lead me further.

Today I had many realizations of the importance of the dance image but I will have to write those another day.
Tim Hurst 12/29/17

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What’s a Brain Split to a Dancer?

In a movement meditation I came across the reason my mind seems to freeze. It is the reason I apply too much force when trying to learn new patterns and why I retreat to improvisation that allows space for me to try variations of the pattern.

Playing with eye movements, I followed one hand with one eye and then closing that eye followed my hand with the other eye. I discovered two completely different worlds in my experience of each eye. My left eye followed an expansive fluid flowing world. My left eye moved easily in all directions and my emotion was joyous and curious. My right eye was limited in its movement, resisting peripheral movement.

Comparing the two eyes in a panoramic movement from one side to the other, I again felt the difference. With my left eye, I felt the fluidity of movement and the ability to vary the speed from extremely slow to fast. With my right eye, there was more limitation. I was surprised that every action seemed to be a command with a pause between each directed movement. The effect was jerky and abrupt movement.

From the Anat Baniel Method, the description of this difference might mean a problem with my brain mapping my body. Baniel suggests that recognizing differences in movement is a first step to remapping the brain.

Following her process, I brought attention to my two eyes and began to build the puzzle pieces that would distinguish the different experiences of my left eye and right eye. It is almost like conversing with both experiences gives the brain the time to map the difference and begin an integration period that connects those areas of the brain.

The difficulty became apparent in the panic feelings I felt when exploring the experiences of my right eye. I needed some movement that would allow me to follow my right eye without building more panic.

I chose an image of fractal movement that begins as purposeful and immediately follows multiple variations. My wish is that with this image I can distinguish the differences in the experiences of using both eyes.

Fractal movement begins with a simple curved movement. The same movement is repeated with an added curve somewhere near the middle of the move. The variation can be a bump or a semicircle or a loop. The second movement with the variation is repeated adding another curve on the first variation bump, semicircle, or loop.

At this point, the brain begins to play with adding loops upon loops that become circles upon loops in a playful movement that never ends. My brain can not conceive and direct this level of complexity but with play I am asking myself to allow a continuous flow of experiences.

This is extreme yet I found some responsiveness in both eyes. I hope to explore what is needed for both eyes, whether beginning the process many times help or if panic arises.

The image is not related to Anat Baniel Method but I will use the principles of attention, extremely slow movement, and variation.
Tim Hurst 11/09/17

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Dancer Vulnerability

What fascinates me about dancers is not so much the process of perfection but the day by day vulnerability. Every class is applying the insights from yesterday to a personal set of changing bodily and emotional needs. The demands are a heightened sense of attention, focus, and awareness. And every day is different.

I have put my self in the middle of that vulnerability. First by beginning ballet as an adult with many physical limitation. Lately I decided to enter the ultimate unsettling experience of taking an advanced ballet class with dance teachers and students I admire.

My intent is kind of like riding as a passenger with a professional race car driver. I will not be able to grasp the level of skill of the driver, but I will be in the middle of their experience. After a few times, I calm myself to be able to sort through the blur of directions and movements.

Whenever I can, I sit and watch dance classes. Having tried the professional’s class, I have been in the ultimate vulnerability so I can begin to understand the courage each dancer has in going into a class pushing their limits physically and emotionally.

What is valuable is my experience of the professional’s uplifted focus and willingness to commit to the slowest and the fastest movement sequences. With my experience of the musicality of melody and rhythm, I am able to observe how each individual approaches movement just a little differently.

Mainly I am surrounded with so much inner delight. Each dancer in the class is at a different skill level and they are fully committed to enter that much vulnerability for new insights on their experience. I am in awe of each person there.
Tim Hurst 09/26/17

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My Inhale Walk

My walk today was in 95 degree noon day sun. I had to take a slower pace to savor the shade and not push too hard in the sun. Already needing a nap and needing to eat as well, I had to find ways to rejuvenate my energy.

My eyes were being shocked as I moved from shade to sun. I began rejuvenating my eyes in the shaded areas. Allowing my focus to wander through the flickering light of tree leaves calmed me and my eyes were being kind of rocked in the light cool breeze.

When I moved into the hot sunlight, my eyes would go into a rest state as if they were riding the cool breeze of the shade I can just left behind.

To rejuvenate myself, I slowed the pace of my body into an easy rise and fall along with my breathing. Then I realized that even with a slow overall body speed, my feet were speeding up to get to the next patch of shade.

I slowed my feet by catching the weight of my legs in a rise and then releasing their weight into a fall. Even the arches of my feet took this easy rise and fall pace. My breathing was heavy but deep and easy. I wonder if the air drafts under an airplanes wings were this kind of catching weight upwards and then weight lowering through air drafts when the craft slows.

A clear sensation began to form. Each cell of my body opened in anticipation of the next inhale. I felt like a ballon with trillions of air sacks to lift me as I walked in this slow rising and falling rhythm.

My study of dance came clear. Ballet lowering and rising is the experience of opening every cell for the next inhale. The visceral anticipation opens my curiosity to the next moment of fun and interconnection. The nutrients and oxygen on the way is a kind of reward for the hope I hold before me. All I can think of is to ask for the delight of my next breath.

Finding a deep shade on the sidewalk, I completely yield to a dance of following energy curves in multiple directions and shapes. I bank and dive into roller coaster curves with ever so slight and unnoticeable dances.
Tim Hurst 09/20/17

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Dancing the Upside

My play today is with the upside. My teacher, Deborah Hay gave direction for the plié, ” The down is the up. And the up is the down.”

This is a definition of the sine wave. The upward motion contains the momentum and the energy of the downward. The downward motion contains the momentum and energy of the upward.

My emotion and sensation is anticipation and curiosity both approaching the top and the bottom of the curve. Within me is both the delight of life and a kind of responsibility to embrace each wave with willingness.

Here is the place of my dance today. My study is to rise with the breath instantly filling every vessel, every organ, every cell. Toe to head and every millimeter between becomes a sack that fills with oxygen. The whole of me is also in an easy gentle rotation imaging multiple winding helix simultaneously spiraling upwards and downwards.

My body rises with the oxygen filling me. My pelvic diaphragm lifts, my Lung Diaphragm spreads, my Dancer’s Diaphragm behind my solar plexis rotates open, the oxygen opens my cranial base and frees my top vertebra to balance my bobbing head, my Singer’s Diaphragm opens my soft palate reminding me of the slow and gentle third eye and the meditator’s fourth ventricle at the back of my head.

My entire body is filling and with ease extending in all directions beyond my own boundaries. My internal image of a winding helix is participating in the extension not only upwards and outwards but also downwards.

The energy of the spiraling helix is simply upwards and downwards at the same time.

This is not an abstract motion. This is the motion of anticipating something I love, an embrace, holding a child, riding a bicycle. This is the lifting beyond my self and at the same time connecting down within myself. This is the balance of exuberance and personal joy. This is the meeting of people, animal, and plants. This is my reaching to receive the gifts of my creator, Life.

Returning to my practice and experiment of rising with and through my breath, I come face to face with my willingness. The renewed life from the oxygen is both delightful and overwhelming. I have a choice, to force the breath through willful direction or to embrace each breath as a new creation.

The process of life is vast. The repetitive simple inhale and exhale opens and connects every part of myself. With each repetition, my cells die and are replaced with fresh new cells. The circumstance has changed.

My choice is to embrace the extension as both upwards and downwards or to attempt to force myself into one direction. If I choose to only extend outwards then I limit myself to brittleness. If I choose to instead fall into the downward nature of the curve, I will also limit myself and clasp my fists around anything to stabilize my fall.
My willingness is literally embracing the life that is filling me. If I do this slowly in the preparation for my dance, I have access to trillions of minute variations and qualities of moving and being. Any circumstance will be a place to extend beyond and within myself at the same time.
Tim Hurst 09/22/17

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Dance Practice

Each moment is a kind of balance point in my life. My experience of life in that balance point is one of rising and falling, a kind of wave to ride. If I am at a malleable, agile place in my brain and body, then I accept the rise and I enter the falling.

My daily practice of dance is a sharpening of my agility to accept and enter those moments in everything I do.

The tools I use in this practice are the principles of dance as melodic, rhythmic, and experimentally varied. The languages of dance I seek to learn are first signals that are instantaneous and networked with systems connecting brain and body. Second aspect of the language of dance are images that I seek to simplify so that they amplify and clarify the signals.

The way I inform my practice is to understand in my own body the experiments and multiple ways dancers apply these principles and adapt these languages to their own unique body brain networks.

One way dancers experience is through an intimate understanding of the diaphragms of the body. I see how the dancer uses the diaphragms and I try to break down their training techniques into specific interactive steps. I also try to simplify imagery that gives me ways to apply the many actions the dance teacher introduces in each dance class.

I am aware that my observations and experiments are to some degree unique to myself. My goal is that dancers grasp the overall goals of dance teachers and gather from them an experience of awareness and imagery that can be applied to themselves as dancers and as a person.
Tim Hurst 08/31/17

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Dance Image Helix

I want to integrate the images of the spiral and the helix as ways to simplify my initiation of movement patterns.

The spiral is a tactile sensation that matches muscles and connective tissue as networks wound around and through bones and organs. The spiral finds its destination and at the same time gathers the breadth and depth of the body shapes.

The spiral clarifies my movement in small areas yet I have to create many spirals at once going in all directions to complete even one movement. I am looking for a simpler image.

The image I am looking for must interconnect information from every area of the body at once. The connections must be instantaneous like the trillions of signals moving through a person. The image must respond to the smallest detailed variation of signals and also give access to a whole person view integrating all systems at once.

This image has emerged as a helix based on the shape of DNA strands. Just a brief review of my experiments with a helix image gives me a basis for further experimentation.

Vertical integration of my entire body is a helix spiraling from foot base, through pelvic floor, through respiratory diaphragm and psoas, through a lifted base connecting solar plexis and T6 vertebra, through the Thorasic inlet, the cranial base, the centrum, and out the fontanels at the top of the head.

The helix naturally has a slow spiraling motion. Any adjustment affects the entire helix. Moving my head side to side affects the helix movement all the way to my feet. I can be aware of Multiple adjustments at once to monitor the constant movement of counterbalancing.

Any small signal I send instantly enters an ongoing network of connections. The helix is a model for sending and receiving signals that are in continual flow. I am no longer only sending signals to a destination but also receiving the feedback and need for adjustments.

The helix image simplifies my sending of signals and my sorting of signals for their results.
Tim Hurst 08/05/17

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Dance the Pelvic Floor

My quest is to experience how the dancer is able to do so many complicated actions at once.

Identifying and isolating the slightest adjustments of the pelvic floor are a specific focus on sensations and awareness. I try to catch a glimpse of this focus as the daily attention of the dancer.

An alternating focus is the use of signals and imagery to create communication networks throughout the entire body.

Below I outline an experiment to interconnect signals from the pelvic floor through the legs and feet. The image of a signal contracting the outside of the hips travels instantly through the legs and feet. The experiment becomes varying the pathways, speed, and quality of the movements affected by the signal.

I also experiment with the beginnings of a network connecting the pelvic floor to the muscles of the lower back, the erectors and the large muscles above the pelvis called the quadratus lumborum. These are the lower back muscles that store lots of tension and require detailed stretching and strengthening.

I vary the pathway of signals coming from the undulations of the pelvic floor, side to side as well as lifting and loosening. The pathways can be lines or curved signals.

Ballet dancers use signals that cross the body in the shape of an “X.” These signals connect left and right side and simplify networks. I experiment with this image by initiating signals from the pelvic floor connecting simple lines to the lower back. The pathway of the signals can be directly up the sides of the spine or crossing the body as in an “X,” or counter rotation as in facing the pelvis and body in different directions.

Rather than becoming more complex, creating an image instantly sends signals throughout my body via interconnecting networks. My search is to build these networks and to vary the types and qualities of signals that move through me.

Searching for how dancers master the subtleties of the pelvic floor.

Principle
Continual balancing motion
Lifting and lowering of pelvic floor
Sensation is lifting and loosening pelvic floor almost as an inhale and exhale of the muscle

Experiment
Rise and lowering in walk, in plié and releve, in spin and turn
Undulations of the lower spine

Principle
Continual undulation motion of both sides of the pelvic floor.
Isolation of left and right sides of the pelvic floor.
Connection to muscles attaching at the spine
Sensation is lifting and loosening of each side of the pelvic floor.

Experiment
Continual Lateral contraction and loosening of the entire surface of the pelvic floor.
Begin contraction at sides of hip just below the protruding hip bones on each side.
Loosen and broaden the entire surface.
Connect at the spine as central point of the pelvic floor.

Extension and stretching of the legs and feet
Articulation of hips, knees, and feet in varied placement and roll through as in Ballet and Latin Ballroom and Social Dancing

All that a dancer does sounds complicated as I describe the detail I have to go through to understand their process. This complexity disappears on the first day of dance class as a dance teacher breaks down the kinesiology, mathematics, geometry, physics, psychology, and spirituality of dancing. Dancers are the masters of simplicity because they build networks of imagery and commands that interrelate the entire body. Dance classes are the capsules we have to learn their process of beginning with the simplest movement and developing a complexity that require volumes of words to describe.
Tim Hurst 05/04/17

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Three Dimension Dancer

What I see in the dancer is the agility to move any part of the body in any direction. Any movement is vibrant from the front, the back, the side. Their movement is three dimensional.

I want to experience these kind of movements that instantly go through the body vertically and also horizontally. Ballet dancers are trained to send signals from feet through the top of the head. They are more subtlety trained to experience the horizontal planes called diaphragms.

With one set of experiments I explore seven diaphragms. One diaphragm is called the pelvic floor. From a basic introduction to Ballet, I am to keep the pelvic floor level and not tilted side to side. The description is “do not lift your hip when moving your legs.” The sensation is of the entire concave surface connecting with the spine and attaching to every edge of my body. The motion is continual undulations to maintain a balance of side to side and front to back tilts.

I experience this balance of a level pelvic floor as I use my legs and take a step in any direction. The more expansive my movements, the more opportunity I have to be aware and adjust my pelvic floor to be in balance.

Another purpose of the pelvic floor is the actions to “lift up” and to “send energy up your spine.” Lifting the pelvic floor is a natural motion to be erect and to maintain balance.

I experiment by lifting my pelvic floor to initiate movement. This gives me the sensation of lifting and also the incentive to remember to engage the muscles connecting around my spine and to the edges of my hips.

Another action is the expansion and contraction of the entire pelvic floor. This is a simple action of pulling the two sides of the hips inwards and releasing them.

The grande plié is a perfect practice as I pull the outer hips inwards to rise then release and expand the hips while lowering. (This activates the psoas muscles connected to the lumbar spine that send signals to the inner thigh, ankle, and feet muscles.)

These experiments help me to build awareness and communication with the pelvic floor. My adjustments become an experience rather than commands to “lower my hip” or to “pull my stomach to my spine.”

Ballet is the master study of simplifying the signals that interact with this constant balancing motion. The goal is to be able to focus on balance and then shift the focus to the entire body experiencing the sensation of balance.

The experience is an instant ease of motion coming from one diaphragm. I ride on top of this horizontal floor that responds to any adjustment I make as I move in any direction, twist and turn, rise and fall. My legs respond to any adjustment and move freely as springs rather than weight bearers.
Tim Hurst. 05/03/17

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Balance Dancing

As I experiment with dance each day, I feel a specific type of signal that comes through every movement. The feeling is subtle. I will move with the awareness that millions of signals are at play to develop internal balance and to grow a clarity of myself and my movement. It came from my study with Deborah Hay and later work with Contact Improvisation and Alexander Technique.

Deborah had us fall down on the floor, rise quickly to the metatarsal of one foot, with both arms raised and pointing two fingers of each hand up. We were to be in this raised position for as long as possible and then fall down. How long we repeated this motion I do not remember.

The immediacy of this sequence, the openness of the results, the tactile sensations of falling and rising. Everything insisted that I enter with all myself and play with each variation I found in my balance, my emotion, my trust in myself.

The principle Deborah uses is that every cell has an intelligence and in this case every cell understands balance. We only pay attention to that intelligence at work and follow wherever it leads.

With Steve Paxton I first experienced my body in a balanced pose laying over another person. This was my introduction to Contact Improvisation and the feeling of balancing on one shared point with another person.

The balance point between two of us was like floating and included so many experiences. Now working with the image of signals, there were millions of signals at once delightfully playing in that single moment of balance.

Studying Alexander Technique with Sumi Komo brought this feeling inside my body. The image of an egg balancing is so elusive yet I came to feel balance points in my feet, at different points in my spine, and with my head bobbing on top of my spine.

Today I imagine every movement as this kind of converging of signals toward balance. At first it seemed complicated but like the balance point in Contact Improvisation, the focus is singular and all the playful signals organize around an area or a shifting point.

All of these experiences I combine into one image of “being in the balance.” Returning to this image with every movement seems to reorganize something in myself. I often feel very vulnerable. At these moments of approaching balance, I feel the challenge of balancing self doubt with clarity of movement.

Well there I am, “in the balance”. By experiencing the vulnerability of balancing signals in my movement, I arrive at a moment of curiosity about myself approaching balance. Subtle maybe but very real to me as I go through my day. Reorganization of myself requires attention and yet allows the balancing forces to work.

This is the lesson I had to learn in ballet, to keep the movement going and allow the balance and the strength to work itself to a steady point.

It seems that being aware has two kinds of focus, one focus on the overall process of the signals working toward clarity and balance. Another focus is on the specific signals to move from point to point.

So my next practice is to take each area of my body and explore the experience of being in the balance. To review, that means to me that I will move with the awareness that millions of signals are at play to develop internal balance and to grow a clarity of myself and my movement.
Tim Hurst 04/25/17

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Balance Signals Continuous

I am curious about the adjustments we make throughout the body for balance. In Ballet class I slowly gained confidence to allow a wobble to become what my body needed to balance. I remember many Modern Dance classes when I would locate my most vulnerable places of being out of balance and play with holding a balance. I took a Balance Class for Seniors at Ballet Austin experimenting with the connection of balance to vision, body position, and doing more than one task at a time.

I studied Alexander Technique that compared a human balancing with an egg balancing on its tip. My understanding is that there is not a balance point but a continual adjustment or modification to stay in a balanced pose.

As I experiment with balance, I wonder if every movement is some kind of wobbly stage that becomes more secure. And what does this wobbly stage have to do with coming to balance?

And how would I change my experience of balance from the point of view of signals?

I am aware of a single signal from the center spine traveling up and out the top of the head. Also the continuation of the signal beyond the body as an image for lifting the body. Equal and opposite signals come from the center spine to activate the legs.

Alexander Technique trains specific signals from the spine between the shoulder blades. These fan like signals can initiate a lift in the torso to support balance using the legs. Also signals to the vertebrae at the base of the spine can help to relax the neck and lift the head in any rise to balance.

My goal is to learn how dancers train all these signals to work as a network that are initiated from a single point or points.
Tim Hurst 04/15/17