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My Urgency towards a Dynamic Vision of Dance

What is my urgency of exploring a Dynamic Vision of Dance?

Every day I wake up to hear of a new discovery about human intelligence, how the brain can be improved to take advantage of this emotional or athletic intelligence, and what substance in what kind of pill will instantly enhance my abilities.

The question that interests me is when has this kind of exponential growth happened before in our history? It may have happened many times after we as a species had lulls of discouragement and disillusionment.

Most probably a leap in human skills of this sort happened as the human began to accept their new powers of the brain. Most important though are the gifts the human developed before realizing the new powers. These gifts became strengths that made it possible to garner the courage and the commitment to explore and build on these new powers.

We seem to be in one of those discouraged seasons of history. Even with all our new discoveries, we look at our youth and find more anxiety, more suicides, more depression and more addiction to substances that we rely on to face our challenges.

One perspective that sticks out as something that has helped humans to persevere is a discovery by Steve Johnson. In his book Wonderland, How Play has Change the Course of History. He connects play to the experience of Delight.

The first question Johnson asks is why in the evolution of humans, the flute preceded the invention of fire. The sounds of the flute were intricately developed to produce a scale that is mathematically astounding. The answer he gives is that our ancestors explored the experience of Delight.

What gift did humans have to help deal with a larger brain? Delight. Where did the intricacies of math and astronomical observation come from? Delight

How did humans persevere in the discouraging times when changes were demanded and new powers seemed unwieldy? Delight was studied and practiced in three ways. Two of the activities were named in language as the same thing. Music and Dance were the same activity. Music and Dance and Religion held the same purpose. First it was Delight. From the delight came bonding of the group plus the growth of observation and anticipation. Most important was the growth all three brought to make phrases that captured the sense of the individual and the group. A phrase was a declaration of the hope and aspiration of each group in their search for the courage to persevere.

What is interesting in our times is our reliance on music and dance as ways to grow our Delight while at the same time not understanding their importance. They are relegated to the realm of religion that is not understood but exploited for the hope it gives.

What is my part in this urgent quest for an overall vision?

I have a unique history with music dance, and religion. All took me a long time to grasp. The technique was slow coming. My brain would freeze if I got over stimulated with each study.

My only entry point in to music, dance, or religion was Delight. Because of early trauma, I developed an escape hatch that was a kind of surrender to Delight. I discovered a particular kind of surrender that always brought Delight. Plus i was able to play and sing music with an abandon that I did not understand.

The tenants of religion were puzzling to me yet I felt myself abandon to Delight in meditative and ritual experiences.

An example of the difference is that learning music or dance has been a process of being a stick man with jerky movements and continual mistakes. Likewise, memory was not something I understood.

What I was able to do was to abandon myself to Delight by playing with the pieces of learning I could remember from a class. I could commit my pieces to memory by connecting each section to a specific kind of Delight.

I would often have lapses of memory while performing. There was no recorded memory of the music or the dance. I would improvise until the Delight would return and there was the remainder of the phrase, the tonality, or the melody.

So my study of Delight has a special meaning to me. Also I seek to understand the kind of surrender that brought me to enter Delight.

All these things are what dancers, musicians, and people of religion approach in their own ways. I have a very detailed perspective because it has all come to me through a longer time line than most.

For example, it took me six summers of daily swimming to learn how to coordinate legs and arms and breath in swimming. Tennis took about the same time just to hit a ball after I bounced it in front of me.

I will not admit the enormous length of time I have spent to arrive at an ease with music and dance. Religion took years of intense meditative practices to coordinate my readiness to my willingness. I persevered in order to both surrender and to reach for the courage to ask the real questions.
Tim Hurst 07/02/18

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Suspension Dances

Dance instantly invites so many moments of entry into suspension.

Suspension is like a precipise between effort and ease, between a task and a day dream.

Entering the dance of suspension, I experience the dance imagery of floating and circular space around me. Even my feet know suspension. With each step the under arch and the top instep find mid-air a delightful place to find themselves.

Dancers exercise their bodies and their imagery to free the legs from the torso. A key image is energy that moves up the torso through every cell and every muscle group. Then the entire body becomes a network to enter suspension.

I experience suspension as a wave that extends energy to the top and then gathers energy on the curve over and downwards. Taking that image into every part of my body, suspension is movement at its richest point.

The image in music is the sound transitions between a suspenseful chord and a clear resolution or a preparatory moment just before a repetition of a melody.

This moment of anticipation is called a “creative pause” in the dances of Barbara Mettler, an early innovator in Modern Dance. The Ballet teacher calls out “And one, And two.” The “And” suspends this moment just before the down beat and just before initiating a movement phrase. Street Dance has a bright spark, maybe even a slight smile just before the smallest or the the grandest flight into the air.

And it is these entry moments that bring me the most delight. In fact, the moment I enter a dance, I smile knowing that the delight will meet me with more connections than I can grasp and more satisfaction than I could ever expect.

Dance Tools I aspire to understand: the sensation of riding the suspension in time, in space, in thought, and in emotion while accepting all the delight I can handle.
Tim Hurst 06/23/18

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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