Sunday, July 24, 2011

Perception. Reality.

I took several classes with Lisa Kraus during my graduate program. Lisa is a wonderful person and commands a very rich, lived history of post-modern dance. I love to listen to her stories about working with Steve Paxton and Trisha Brown. In one of our technique classes, Lisa asked us to draw how we saw our bodies. Honestly. I've revisited this exercise several times since that first instruction. 

This is a hard one. 

It's hard to first be very honest with our own perceptions. And then it's difficult to separate what we know our bodies supposedly look like from what we think our bodies look like. 

Here's an example. When you ask many people to put their "hands on their hips" they will put them on the most narrow part of their waist, somewhere lateral to their belly button. Others might put their hands on the bony protrusion the front of the pelvis. In honestly, neither of these is correct. The hip joint itself is very deep within the pelvis, on each side of the body.

Why does this matter? Movement follows thought. If you think that your hips - the location where your legs attach to your torso - are around your belly button, your walking movement might be a little awkward. If you try to lift your leg from this place, you will end up sinking into your lower back and causing more difficulties. However, if you place your thoughts about your hips where your femur's head attaches to the pelvis, movement will become more efficient. There's a ton of research out there, so I encourage you to check it out. I strongly suggest researching Alexander technique. 

Again, so?

In being honest with myself, it's always a process to think about what my body actually is. In my perception, I didn't have movable joints for many, many years. Because I lacked mobility, I had no awareness of my center line. My movement was/ is forced. Some teachers called this "muscling" the movement. My muscles gripped in order to move my bones. This practice was super inefficient and created more tension within my body. 

I'm finding freedom in my SI joint. These have been a source of consternation since a back injury during a performance many, many year ago that left me in a year of rehab. In finding the freedom of my legs as they attach and mobility in and around my sacrum, I am finding a new sense of control and release. (This is very necessary for Kun-Yang Lin's technique. But also very necessary for ballet. My body is becoming a more efficient mover.)

I'm also finding fear. The sacrum and the hip flexors are documented places where we hold tension and fear. This process is exciting and scary as I'm learning to let go of lived tension to gain a better sense of my body. In the release, I'm finding stability, space, and strength. 

More to come as I continue this investigation of the connection between the body and mind. This journey is aiding in my development as a technician. 

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