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What’s a Child to a Dancer?

There are many delights in my life. One of the greatest is experiencing a child dancing. My delight is the child totally engaged, no other thought, no other focus. As an adult I have to slow myself down enough to really receiving this kind of engagement.

I have to experience their delight as a new state like none other I have experienced before. Like many dancers, the child is moving through many states, experiencing them, playing with them, trying them out in many different ways until they discover a new state.

I am trying to just juggle a few states to pull them together so I have to stop and breathe to accept the constant flow of information that the child is mirroring right into me. I accept that mirroring and follow it both along with the child and within myself connecting up my experiences with it.

My experience of dancers experimenting and performing is the same. I take a deep breath and slow myself down enough to accept the immense flow of information through each dancer.

Each of us as dancers goes through different stages of focusing on the flow from state to state and going back to sort through the moments of delight and doubt that represent us as unique and as a part of the mirroring we participate in.

We get caught in one phase or another and that is why we go to a teacher or a choreographer to help with the sorting and the cleaning of ourselves so we choose what is the clearest representation of our experiences.

So when I experience a dancer individually or as a group, I look first for their flow of delight that I know from slowing down with a child. The clues are if they discover a new part of themselves and allow me to see that in their dancing.

This is my second greatest delight, to be a witness of a dancer becoming a new person right then and there. That process takes courage to put every part of themselves on the line. To even begin to see that, I have to also put myself there ready to be changed as we mirror each other’s experience in the moment.

That is another level. The dancer and the audience mirror each other’s experience. That means the moment is being transformed by the curiosity and courage of each person present. Could be that is why we are mystified that no two performances are the same even with the same dancers and the same audience.

So I take a deep breath, call up what little courage I can and enter a space that is unique to dancers willing to show everything they are. That space is a toggle between two kinds of engaging, vulnerability and acceptance. The opening of all the stops is vulnerability which is essential to a dancer. The willingness to send all the power available through the body is acceptance. Vulnerability is recognizing doubt and anticipating a fully engaging experience. Accepting is claiming this statement as oneself at this moment taking full responsibility for the experience of mirroring that is taking place.

The child is the example. There is complete vulnerability and complete responsibility. There is no quibble about being loved or unloved, about there being a God or no God, about being skilled enough or approved enough. There is only total commitment and not to prove anything but to be a completely new something.

So I recognize how vulnerable I am and pull my total self into a slow space of being able to accept what will come through me. I am audience and I love this moment.

I see the dancer and the choreographer toggle between delight and doubt, between acceptance and vulnerability, between the known and the unknown. And what I commit to our mirroring process is anticipation of the toggle that will bring more engagement that may result in something subtle or something bold. Always I look toward the curiosity of the dancer for accepting those moments as representations of them selves, refreshed, renewed, recreated.
Tim Hurst 10/23/17

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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