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Erin Fulton at Gaga Workshop

Erin Fulton attending Gaga Workshop with Omri Drumlevich, Austin, Tx, 040817, Presented by AMARTS.

To me, the most sophisticated dancers are those who move organically, as if the instinct isn’t necessarily to dance, but to move. The dancer has a studied connection with underlying and often forgotten instincts – gravity, shift, source, centrality, cause and effect. And what’s so challenging for me is this high peak of experience: to let go and not be so cerebral.

Gaga class with Omri, one of Batsheva’s artists, was a reminder of this continuous and ongoing challenge. My personality wants to calculate and measure, but as soon as I do, my body loses its natural sophistications and movement instincts. So there I am, trying to pull bones through skin, but also trying not to think about it, and then I’m just thinking about not thinking about it. Which sounds frustrating, but I actually enjoy being made aware, again and again, of this continual need to find what’s simple and primal in dance.

I watched Omri throughout class, and even in moments of effort, there’s an ease and groundedness in his movement. He knows fluidity, but also dynamic and portrayal of ideas. He was compelling, because it was evident how well he knew his body, without having to orchestrate, and without the added burden of arranging thoughts upon thoughts.

I’m reminded that dance follows the pattern of people in general: the weightiest people are those who just ARE, without trying to be. They ARE patient, without having to muster up patience. They are wise without wracking their brains for proverbs. They are full of life without having to artificially generate energy and light. The weightiest people are those who are in touch with a source – so also the weightiest dancers are those who are in touch with the utter naturalness of their body.

I’m inspired to keep exploring on my own, and to also to be generous and share my growth and progress – by presenting my body without shame in classes that are a stretch for me.
Erin Fulton. 04/15/17

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Gaga Dance Imagery

Gaga Workshop with Omri Drumlevich, Austin, Tx, 040817, Presented by AMARTS.

I am so excited that the signal is a primary image of Gaga. The familiar dance explanation of the dance signal is to send energy through the body. With an extraordinary perspective, Gaga brings an urgency to going further with each image.

I can only attempt to paraphrase Omri’s words.
“The images I am giving you are not movements. They are more physical than movements. They are the unseen parts of the movements. They are everything that makes up the movement.”

“I am not asking you to create a metaphor that you think about and do. You pay attention to the experience of this image coming into you, how it feels, the emotion. The movement is your playing with the image to go further into the experience.”

The signal is a multi-level experience of sending and receiving.

The urgency for me is to know the places the image touches me and to live that part of me in clear statements of myself today. Tomorrow I will discover more.
Tim Hurst. 04/12/17

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Dance Imagery/Fulton

Erin Kedze Fulton. January 20, 2017
Imagery is most often noticed/talked about/used within the realm of literature. And as I learned in grade school, it’s an umbrella term for similes, metaphors, and personification. Like or as. Or it is. My generalized finding – from the middle school days of Harry Potter, til today’s tackling of Ishiguro – is that imagery has a way of engaging the imagination in a way that facts can’t. “His eyes were dark,” doesn’t have the effect of “eyes…glinting like black beetles” (Rowling speaking). Something is stirred within the mind’s eye, resulting in slight intimidation. Or the sensation of seeing darkness.

However, there is a thoroughly unresearched medium that imagery operates within, and that is dance. It’s a teaching strategy, as well as a way of absorbing information and emitting it right back out of your body. It is the means by which I learn and move best as a dancer.

Until I was 20, the primary experience I had with dance was ballet, and I attended classes in a traditional school. We used the proper, codified terminology, and explanations were straight-forward and anatomical (“your arm is slightly bent at the elbow, brought in front of you at belly button level”). But there was always a frustrating wall in my body that I couldn’t climb over. Blockages, places that energy was unable to reach, gimmicks that I was either unaware of, or unable to alter.

It wasn’t until I took my first improvisation class in college that I began to find a way to reach the blocked and inaccessible places in my body. We began with simple exercises: assign adjectives and verbs, and embody them through movement. Thick. Sliding. Circular. We would take a word and run with it, improv-ing for minutes on end, and I was delighted to find how much movement my body could produce from the idea of a single image. I didn’t have to think too much, it just happened.

My experience with imagery grew as I was exposed to a wider variety of instructors. When I was asked to “be cool,” my tendency to muscle my way through movement tapered off. Being told to not have “tortilla feet” was a tongue-in-cheek way of getting my feet to keep up with my legs. And in Pilates, the idea of four cups of coffee balanced on shoulders and hips enabled me to keep a steady quadruped.

These mental pictures had a way of molding and shaping my body from the inside out – and like water against rock, it’s an ongoing process. But I sense progress. The parallel is how a reader graduates to more and more sophisticated works – so also a dancer graduates to more complicated images. The most challenging are ones that have to do with an abstract energy – riding the energy particles that rush through my blood stream. To move as if the very act of it is cleansing me.

Beyond the aspect of physical growth, imagery acts as a simple yet intimate language between dancers. I work with a group of performers, among whom three different tongues are represented: most of us speak English, but one dancer is from France, and Chinese is our choreographer’s native tongue. There are times when heavily detailed prompts are counterproductive and confusing. So instead, our choreographer will simply tell us, “Soft.” And we understand him, and soften.

The beauty of an image is that it results in my body moving organically, from the inside out; movement happens to me, rather than the other way around. I find that I don’t need to emphasize the correctness of a movement, but learn its feeling and essence, with the help of a mental picture. “Bones pulling through flesh” looks different in my body than in the dancer’s next to me, but is just as valid.

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What is relaxed during exercise?

My dance teacher’s words have changed the way I think, feel, and move.  I learned the value of keeping at least one area of my body open and relaxed while every other muscle is fully engaged.

“You don’t need to pull down your “lats,” let the muscles between your shoulder blades melt down your back.”  Arletta Logan in Pilates and in Ballet class.

“While your whole body is attentive, keep the space between your eyebrows open, relaxed, expansive.”  Powell Shepherd, student of Mary Wigman, in Modern Dance class.

“You have all the stamina you need for running toward something or running to meet someone.  Let light burst out of your solar plexis toward that.”  Deborah Hay in The Circle Dances, 1976 Austin,Texas