Posted on

Experiment Initiate Signals

A comment that will guide this experiment is from Dana Lewis, Master Dance Teacher and Pilates Instructor. She says, “Pilates builds on ballet by training large and small muscle groups to work together. Most important is learning how to extend to one direction and resist in the other direction. This push and pull balance makes (the person in) Ballet move easier and helps to find the most efficient way to move.”

My focus is to use the image of the signal to initiate a movement. As Dana says “a movement has to begin somewhere and go somewhere.” My experiment is to keep a movement going in a tiny loop from a beginning point. I want the experience of initiating the movement from a specific point. The distance can vary so I experiment with the smallest distance.

What I find is that the signal can instantly complete an extension even with the tiniest of movements. For example if I initiate a movement of my arms from the spine, the signal completes the movement without a need for a broad large movement.

The other aspect of the movement that Dana speaks about is “to resist in the other direction” and the “push and pull balance.” The signal carries multiple layers of data, both sending and receiving information. The signal is not a push that ends somewhere. A signal is a dynamic process that is constantly sorting and adjusting itself as it sends out new signals.

To absorb this experience of receiving information within each signal, I use the dance image of the looped return. At the completion of every movement there is a return along a path or a change of direction. The image is similar to the ball thrown into the air. Whether the ball returns straight down or continues in a trajectory, at the peak the ball slows slightly and takes a curved loop to make its decent.

I follow the signal from my spine to the end of my fingers that raise slightly with my tiny movement. The follow the image of my arms and fingers looping back along the same path.

It is in the slow down of the loop return that I experience the receiving of information from the signal. Actually this process is millions of data interactions a second. The loop gives me a floating sensation and the experience of greater awareness and reflection on the completion of the signal as well as my location, movement quality, and anticipation of the next moment.

My experiment with the arms I now apply to the tiniest lowering and raising bending at the hips and knees, the ballet plié.

Raising my leg for a step involves two signals, a signal down one leg and another signal raising the other. This is the training of Ballet and will be another experiment.
Tim Hurst 03/22/17

Posted on

Dance Experiment Yes

Yesterday I tried to describe a daily dance experiment. It became a boring play by play of another exercise system with a now I do this and then this. Unpublished that and spent a day writing about the brightness that is dance to me, to my teachers,and to choreographers and performers that explore the depths of dance every day.

My passion is to share this process of delight and diligence that as dancers we enter every minute of our lives. My 15 year old grandson describes me with the word exuberance that he defines as “overly excited to the point of being obnoxious.” And I have to admit I have been that exuberant when I want every party to be Ballywood with every one dancing and singing. Or when someone says, “I can’t dance,” and my energy fires up. Or when a choreographer has only a small audience to join their performance of excellence and new discoveries about the human spirit.

My search is for a common denominator that we all obviously share when it comes to dance and music. I will walk into any storm to support every person with an inclination to dance. At this moment I am looking at all the storms I have come through. What I see are layers upon layers of interconnected experiences that are obvious and fully described in the art, the lives and in the words of dancers.

Yet to clarify the processes and principles we express, my words turn to mush and I tear my hair at our denial of the massive influence dance has on our lives both as participants and beneficiaries.

The beauty of dance is that each individual samples its juicy delights and digests it in different ways. The nurture of those dance morsels emerges as a person who is more curious, more aware, more tuned to delight and despair. This nurture is available for the dancer and for those who join with the dancer on their explorations.

This is my search, for a place we can all enter this nurturing world of dance. In my life, I follow the trails to dancers who know this delight and who enter it fully. I find this ability to enter dance in the five year old as well as in the professional, in the social dancer as well as the brilliantly dedicated pointe dancer.

Within my search, the questions and the lists read like a composite of restaurant menus from all over the world and from the camp fires of our earliest ancestors. My main focus is, how do we enter what we know as dance, instant connection of everything we are, instant fun, a second wind insisting we dance forever.

As with any endeavor, the range defines the degrees of entry. The range is from a process and a procedure to the individual experience of the process. We sometimes think of dance as learning a form like Ballet or HipHop or Salsa. Yet when we taste the delights of the actual experience, we only want more.

Entry at this point is when the experience shapes the structure of the dance. In other words, the dance becomes yours. You shape the dance to be you rather than the steps and techniques being the only goal.

Dance is unique. The entry point is instantaneous. The first steps of a child instantly turn to dance with music. The beginner learning the waltz can feel the dance within them even if the body is trying to catch up.

The uniqueness of dance is a lifetime study. A particularly interesting point of entry is the activating of the personal monitor. It has something to do with the play between awareness and a generalized sense of everything working together. Dancers confront their internal emotions and traumas as well as their external interactions.

The monitoring is subtle signals or messages or conversations between the person and every part of their life. Dancers often describe their experience as spiritual or as meditative. I suspect that the reason is this aspect of monitoring that is a personal connection with insights, anticipations, and moments of creating new cells and new points of view.

Dance and music ride the line between the known and the unknown similar to religious ritual and meditation. Structure and form are there to develop processes like personal monitoring to navigate these sometimes challenging seas of uncertainty and vulnerability.

As I describe my exploration and experiments, my intent is not to create a structure or a way to dance. My hope is to find an entry way to making the kinds of connections that dancers and dance teachers make every day.

Will these entry points give you more access to yourself and to dancing? Will they give choreographers and teachers clearer ways to state the importance of their explorations? Will more audiences join choreographers to explore new discoveries of themselves? Again, my hope is to give insights for each individual to find the brightness within themselves where dance resides.

All along the way I could say, build your connections, “Do not do as I do.” As a consummate beginner of dance, I am the perfect person to delve into these murky waters that seem so confusing to explain. It takes me years to absorb a structure, relearning each time I return. Learning patterns requires sometimes hours of improvisation and play with the different pieces of a movement. My system sometimes overloads and freezes my ability to move. One of my Pilates teachers says, “You think too much.” My Floor-BarreTM instructor says I need more fluidity as I am learning the movements.

So my qualifications in doing this study are not what I do or can do, they are my passion to find the entry points that bring delight to every movement.
Tim Hurst. 03.12.17