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Dance Trains the Spine

Dance trains each area of the spine to command horizontal and vertical signals. Two principles seem to be that each section of vertebra engage the nearest part of the body, and that each section networks with other parts of the spine to interconnect the entire body.

My search is for a simple way to engage myself in movement physically, emotionally, and intentionally. The building blocks to simplicity seems to be signals originating at the spine.

With one simple image of a signal connecting an entire area of the body, I can bypass all my thinking about which muscles need to move and which muscles are restricting movement.

Rather than two separate intentions of sending signals and receiving feedback, the spine becomes the instantaneous sender and receiver of information.

Dancers learn this simplicity in the process of a detailed study of movement engaging the entire body at once. I had to go through the back door to understand this simplicity that becomes apparent to the serious dancer.

A common dance image is to send energy from the feet up through the body and out the top of the head. This is one signal. The signal can be varied to activate each area of the body as it rises. The signal can even go beyond the feet to ground the body or beyond the head to extend the sense of lengthening the muscles.

My clue for understanding horizontal signals was the ease of raising the arms in Ballet. The dancer describes the signal coming from the spine between the shoulder blades, traveling under and around the arms, lifting the forearms, and continuing through the fingers of each hand. As the fingers of each hand approach each other, the signals continue making an energetic connection between each finger. A spreading movement of the arms emphasizes the returning signal to the spine.

The signals in each area of the spine travel to every edge of the body, front, back, and side. I loosely refer to these areas as diaphragms because they are interconnected tissue of all kinds muscular, neurological, vascular, Limbic, and glandular.

This is only the beginning of training this area of the spine that I refer to as the dancer’s diaphragm. Signals are varied to spread and raise the arms while maintaining this energetic circle within the arms. The signals are clearly only for the arms allowing the shoulders and neck to be supportive but not fully engaged.

The training extends the range of the spinal area with slight twists, and the rolling of each vertebra forward and back. Engaging these muscles around each vertebra requires specific training to bend and slide horizontally in each direction.

Using these upper vertebra as an example, the next step of learning is to network the signals from this area with other areas of the spine. Networking signals means that the vertebral areas are interconnected through both sending and receiving signals.

The breathing diaphragm, attaching at the lower vertebra of the rib cage, networks signals to the dancer’s diaphragm. The signals are spreading,suspending, and releasing that correspond to breathing.

Receiving signals from the breathing diaphragm, the dancer’s diaphragm opens the upper chest and the back to allow breath into the upper lungs. The arms in any position receive sensations of these spreading and suspending signals.

Signals to the dancer’s diaphragm also network to the pelvic diaphragm. The pelvic diaphragm engages the lower vertebra connecting the support from the inner legs, ankles, and feet. Lifting the pelvic diaphragm also sends signals to the erector muscles along the spine that contribute to the sensation of lifting and spreading throughout the entire back as well as the chest and neck areas.

The lowering and spreading of the pelvic diaphragm also sends releasing signals to the breathing and the dancer’s diaphragms to support the sensations of suspension and continuous lowering.

The value of networking is so all these interconnections can happen at once with the least amount of directed commands. The access to each vertebral,area gives the opportunity to monitor and respond specifically to the areas that need adjustment or support.
See also Spinal Imagery
Tim Hurst 01/23/18

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Benefit or Harm

One simple image consumes me today. Benefit. Benefit every movement. Benefit every signal I receive through my eyes, my ears,my touch, my health. Benefit every connection internally and externally.

My sensation is a flowering, a flurry, a bursting of signals that give me access to every direction in space, in thought, in emotion, in anticipation, and hope.

The sensation may be like yawning and spreading myself to the extremities of my breath. Every part of me wants to engage, to connect, to both be aware and to surrender to the flowering sensation.

Benefit as an image may begin here in the shower of signals. This is a specific network of signals I experience with a focus on a broad whole view of myself and my world.

My focus then shifts to examine what this benefit means to me, how I can expand this benefit, how I can apply it to every area of my life. In this process, the body brain monitors the effect of the benefit and sends out signals to find receptor points.

When the flowering signals are received by established networks of receptors, monitors, and supportive responders, the benefits are easily accepted and applied.

When the signals enter unresponsive networks, the benefits may appear to be demands that appear stressful. I am very aware of the times I react and reject benefit that is freely offered. The immediate response of the entire system is to run for cover or to seek any distraction to minimize the fear and to calm the stirred up trauma introduced by the unfamiliar signals.

Responsive networks are established in the early childhood years. Beyond that it is up to me to develop networks of signals. I have explored the network building processes of music, dance, and religion. Each one is a guide to switch focus from the sense of the whole person to the specific goals of building responsive connections internally and externally.

I am aware that each person forms their own mosaic of connections that make sense of stresses and responses. My personal search has been to find the realms of study that encourage these shifts of focus from the broader whole view to the specific goal focus.

Within the specific goal focus is a benefit monitor that operates a continuum from self benefit to empathetic benefit outside the self. There is also the continuum of more or less effort. Another is the monitor for risk of harm and prevention of harm.

Another elusive monitor has something to do with a continuum of satisfied benefit and tortured benefit. This monitor is related to the human skill of making snap judgements and instantly determining a response. In the case of benefit, this monitor can become a driver of self deception and justification of any harm to receive a benefit.

Snap judgements based on a minimum of information often mean the choice of a tortured benefit meaning a calculated loss for self or other. Someone has to lose. The harm has to accompany the benefit. Examples are the athletes insistence that the goal is worth any injury or even death. The examples are everywhere that some people or forms of life have to be harmed in some way to gain a benefit. Addictions are an example.

Self deception and justification of any harm easily lead to distractions that further confuse the need for human responsive networks to receive benefit.

I keep asking what drives us toward self deception and harm? I can use an example from dancing. I learn a movement combination and my body brain instantly wants to establish a pattern. There is a difference between a perceived pattern and a networked pattern.

My instant conclusion is what the movement should look like. I jump from understanding the movement to an imitation of what I think it looks like. I make a map not of the movement but of how I should look.

Ballet has a solution which is group class that takes simple movements that connect signals into networks. A movement begins as networked connections. Each movement is supported by the whole body. The students learn moment by moment how to shift from the focus on the entire networked body to the specific skill of specific movements.

The self deception monitor keeps tugging towards imitation. Actually imitation is a specific skill focus that gives information for the shift of focus to the individual dancer’s whole network. It is in the whole network view that the dancer creates their own images that guide their movements and their monitoring choices.

My study then is to experience the two shifts of focus to build supportive connective networks through every part of myself. Rather than looking for the pattern to imitate I look for the signals that may have to wobble to find the connections that need support in my body.
Tim Hurst 01/02/18

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Nurturing Back Strains

Today I nurture my Quadratus Lomborum (QL), the little square of muscle connecting my pelvis bone the iliac to my spine and to my lower ribs. I have again strained these very tense and unforgiving support muscles. At its worse, I could not straighten my torso and had trouble rising from a sitting position.

Lifting from my pelvis and sending signals to lift under my rib cage has given me freedom to undulate my spine and to swivel around it in all directions.

Counter rotations of paired arms and hips with head added a freedom to slow my visual focus and to internally follow my full body experience.

Then I add an image of a double helix that passes signals from pelvic diaphragm through my QL, through my center spine diaphragm at the lower rib, through my suspended diaphragm between my shoulder blades crossing under my arms, through my neck and cranial base and out the top of my head.

The image of a double helix is two spiraling strands crossing and recrossing from my lower spine through the top of my head. The purpose of the double helix is to organize the signals connecting my entire body. This image allows an instant broad view of the intricate connections of each system of muscle and bone and intention and emotion.

In other words, I can simply visualize the double helix through my body and allow the integration of signals through every system. I can vary size of the double helix to surround only my spine or expand it to encompass the outer circumference of my body.

Today as I purposefully nurture my QL I allow gentle signals to pass through and keep my entire body supple and responsive to initiation of movement that includes signals of many qualities.

I feel lightness and a bright curiosity with each signal passing through my lower and upper torso. I can lift in one area and support the other in a curve forward, back, and diagonal. My QL goes along for the ride without seizing up or complaining with pain.

The counter rotations seem to ease my mind and foster a flow of focus through my entire body.
Tim Hurst 10/17/17

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Clarify Double Helix

Today I feel the double helix as an image that sustains my movement. What I see in dancers is what I feel in me as the image moves with a delightful agility from area to area in my body.

I change the position of the double helix image at will. I send any signal through the image, fast or slow, intense and large or subtle and small, floating or carving space. The image is the structure for expansion or compression. The spiral shape is perfect as instantly responding as a spring or as an undulating mass able to articulate any area of my body in multiple directions.

I send signals from my spine outwards to both arms with two ends of the helix as a structure. The signal can continue beyond my body with an extended helix image or allowed to disappear into space.

I can make sense out of ballet images for crossing signals in the back from hip to shoulder. The double helix image can follow those pathways and bring sensation to all the edges of the body, front, back, side, internal and external.

The signal has a structure to return to my spine or make a curved transition into another direction. The ending of the helix can be shaped as a figure eight image to make this returning signal instantaneous.

Tilting and banking my body at the different horizontal diaphragms becomes totally different from directing myself to bend backwards or pull my abs in to roll over. The helix has only to be rotated slightly for tilting and angled for banking motions.

Applying the double helix to my feet is an exploration in itself with the many combinations of arches and joints.

The double helix image carries any variety of signals to the smallest area or to my entire body and psyche at once.

The shape of the double helix is two intertwined spirals. The image of two spirals define a circular space between them that can activate and manage interactive fields of energy in small or large areas. A double helix image around the spine interconnects both sides of the body. Likewise an image of a horizontal double helix can activate at least eight cross sections of the body. Combining the vertical and the horizontal images provides inter-connective networks through the entire body and a way to change to many diagonal pathways.
Tim Hurst 09/14/17

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Tuning the Helix

Today my body is bursting to reconnect. Imbalances pop up everywhere, Hips twist. Right leg needs to lengthen. T6 between the shoulder blades is out somehow. All these complaints sends signals of pain to my right knee.

First I acknowledge each area of need to just say help is on the way. Slow and small movement is best like a very detailed barre or a Tai Chi and Chi Gong movement.

For slow focused movements, I send a shower of many signals from all directions. Then I direct the shower from the spine. I shift the signals first to the scattered shower then to the directed shower. This brings the area to life and ready to reconnect.

Today I introduce some slow counter rotations of head with hips in one direction and shoulder girdle and solar plexis to the opposite direction. All this is very subtle movement in slow motion. I can enlarge one area at a time, a hip rotating forward or back in a semi circle. The back under the shoulders can swivel in the same or the opposite direction of the hips.

All of this is to bring life to each area and to clarify the signals that can be shifted through body brain connections.

Then I am ready to apply imagery to reconnect my signal networks. The difference between the imagery of a DNA shaped helix and spiraled signals is coming a little clearer.

The helix image is a structure that I can place within different areas of my body. First I place a helix spiraling from both feet up through my spine and out my head. I experience the slight spiraling of the entire helix image structure. The image can spiral in either direction, can ripple with areas that are trying to align, and become larger or smaller in areas that need more detailed focus.

A single signal can travel instantly through the entire helix and return. For example a contraction in the arch of the feet can send a clear signal out the top of the head. This is my first signal just to test where the disconnects are.

The signal follows the spiraled pathway of the helix and can reshape the position and size of the helix to fit its trajectory. To deal with the imbalance in my legs, I alter the helix to be a loop from one foot through the pelvic diaphragm to the other foot. I am then balanced on a series of spiraling springs, the helix, that can simultaneously apply equal pressure or apply a lifting pressure to one leg while moving the opposite leg.

The same applies to the area between the shoulder blades. I apply one helix from finger tips of one hand through my body to finger tips of the other hand. This helix image engages the area under my arms, connects with the T6 area of the spine and engages the solar plexis at the front of my body.

I move each area in all directions by sending clear signals through the helix image. Because I am imaging the helix as a moveable structure, I do not need to construct the signal as a spiral. The signal travels instantly through the helix. The spiral of the signal through the helix can reflect in my movement if I wish.
The next stage is reconnecting the support areas of the horizontal diaphragms. I have already connected the arches of the feet to the entire body. I continue the connections through my body with the Barre, Floor-BarreTM and variations of Modern Dance sequences.

Reconnecting the pelvic diaphragm is placing a horizontal helix within the pelvis and hip areas. I can send lifting signals through the helix and also signals for expanding and contracting that activate the lower spine and legs.

From the pelvic diaphragm I can enlarge the helix and send signals crossing the spine to activate which vertebra that need my attention.

I can repeat the counter rotations that I used to test my problem areas earlier.

Each diaphragm is important. The one that is calling for help this morning is the Cranial Base where the top vertebra Atlas can swivel and bob the head in all directions. I can send signals from the arches of the feet or from the pelvic diaphragm.

A signal can ripple through the helix to bob or rotate the head in any direction. The ease of motion is so much simpler than the command, “Now move the head.” The movement is connected into a full body network and the sensation is of movement growing from inside out.

So I have spent most of my time notating these steps today. Now I need to spend some focused time with my moving self.
Tim Hurst 09/10/17

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Dancer’s Speed

My experiment today is to experience my entire body engaged as a whole and to review the interconnections of each area of my body. This is a list of the principles that are flashing on and off.

Advantage of instantaneous signals managed by interconnected networks

Access to imagery to train layers of vertical and horizontal body movement.

Full spectrum of slowest to fastest motion directed by imagery to make these subtle adjustments.

Access to imagery of a wide variety of movement qualities.

Layering of imagery accessing many slow motion movements within a faster move.

Access to imagery of acceleration, rhythm, and melodic development.

Energy Generation
imagery of energy coming from every edge of the body, front, back, and side.

signals that develop along a curve rather than a one dimensional line.

images of signals as cycling an exhale of effort signals and an inhale of integration signals.

Energy Rejuvenation
the experience of a rising and falling wave motion throughout the body brain, the signal networks, the anticipation and awareness networks.

simultaneous variations of speed in many areas of the body.

horizontal counter rotations throughout the body.
Tim Hurst 09/08/17

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Networked Movement

As I experiment with my feet finding a balancing place between all the extremities, I realize how my signals work. Neurobiologist believe that these micro movements in babies are random twitches.

My experience is that signals are always at work connecting, disconnecting, and reconnecting networks. That would mean that the many signals I feel in my feet are going in all directions at once doing their work to sort out relationships and functions like weight transfer and balance. These signals may be called random but that does not account for the purposeful relationship with the entire body as a network that includes the brain.

I studied Rewiring movement from Nina Martin, professor of dance at TCU in Texas. We were asked to lay on the floor and to allow signals to come from our spine that would slightly move different parts of our body.

The image Nina used was of a baby just before going to sleep. Often the baby will go through a series of twitches like an adult might do when ready to do something but being very frustrated. As I have mentioned neurobiologists study these flurries of signals as random movements essential to making connections in the brain.

Nina was not dealing with random movement but with the flurry of movements exploring all directions at once. When our brain kicked in to make the movements into patterns, Nina suggested we follow the pattern briefly and return to the exploratory flurry of signals initiating our movements.

My work with Nina Martin gave me ways to experience these signals to gain a perspective on the ways I move and how I can vary signals to affect my habitual and learned movements.

What this means to me is that the signals to and from my feet are always networking using exploratory movement. Patterned, learned, repetitive movement is another layer that can be adjusted with an awareness of how my signals work.

Deborah Hay innovated ways for dancers to disengaged from patterned movement so they can discover the layer of signals beneath. At this layer all systems can be engaged at once with movements that are directed and non-directed, physical and emotional, intentional and surrendered.

The method that Deborah used was the image of the individual cell having its own intelligence. As the dancer tunes to each cell a greater awareness develops of a complete network throughout the entire body. The necessity to plan and execute movement gives way to another kind of inner communication akin to meditation. Deborah can then give an image or a brief movement idea as a template for the cells to follow. The necessity has been transformed to listening to the cells rather than to our thoughts.

So with my feet I first become aware of the micro level of signals at work continually. Then I move into that micro level slowly enough to build awareness of the connections being made as networks. Then I can both follow and direct the networks individually and as full body networks.
Tim Hurst 08/23/17

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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 2

Had two Pilates sessions to introduce my grandson to an intense workout. This was a perfect chance to test out my experience of the pelvic floor for three dimensional responsiveness through the body.

So far I am playing with the pelvic diaphragm for vertical lift sending signals to both the lower limbs and the upper torso. Horizontal wave motions regulate the position and signals to and from the hips,

First exercise of pushing out with the legs, Karin Carlson helped me identify my overuse of the thighs and need to connect the back of my legs and gluts. By alternating between horizontal and vertical lift motions of the pelvic floor I was able to immediately change my orientation. Signals moved easily through the front and back of my legs. My thighs were supported and I was able to continue to push against a heavier weight than ever before.

I continued to use this experience as I explored extensions. Balancing countering actions with each leg meant sending signals down each leg. Finding the passage points on the pelvic floor came quickly and made it easier to equalize a shorter leg and keep both hips engaged and aligned.

In the second session, I asked about the tension behind my knees. Karin suggested that I pull up from the knee caps to engage my entire thighs front and back. After feeling the sensation, I applied outward compression to both hips engaging the thighs and simultaneous lifting of the pelvic floor.

I had access to more movement in the back of my legs. Sending signals through the entire knee area gave me the extra freedom to release into more of an extension. Long way to go and lots of Ballet classes before all will be functional.

Coordination of the legs brought new sensations in muscles I had not experienced before. New cooperation had to be worked out. Stretching also felt different.
Tim Hurst. 05/14/17

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Pelvic Floor Update1

My experience of the pelvis floor today is a feeling of integration. I am aware of the full surface going all the way through my body from edge to edge. A sensation of wideness is unusual.

Signals are easier to pass from different areas of a wider surface to connect with legs and feet as well as sending lifting signals through my torso and head.

My practice is to slowly lift and lower the pelvic diaphragm sending signals up through the top of my head. Figure eight wave motions across the width of the diaphragm connect with the lumbar spine and send signals through the legs to the ankles and arches of the feet. Tilting the entire diaphragm makes subtle adjustments to the pelvis.

The results are a full body network centered in one location. Adjustments are small that are not related to commands to move body parts. For example, no longer needed are the conscious physical requirements to separate the top of the legs from the pelvis or squeezing of the buttocks to engage the inner thighs.

Laying on my back, I can roll on my pelvis and use Skinner Technique movement of the legs to clarify signals coming from the pelvic floor and the lower lumbar spine muscles.
Tim Hurst. 05/12/17

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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