Monday, January 26, 2015

Moving together

I had a dear friend, who was associated with the military, visit recently. I mention his relationship with the military because it demonstrates a dedication to something larger than self and a dedication to the body.

Those engaged in the military, like dancers, train intensely.

As I began a Pilates workout, he asked to join.

Rolling like a ball (It's really called that)? Corkscrew (something not related to wine)? Swan (Not some tight-knit ballerina)?

Let's do it!

Find your lower abdominals. (That place two inches below your belly button. That place where you suck in when your pants are too tight -from the dryer. Now breathe! Let go of your quads or hip flexors. Try flexing your feet during this practice to engage your relationship between the heels and the "sits bones" and release the engagement of the front of the legs, ie. quads and superficial hip flexors).

I led him through a beginner Power Pilates Mat workou,t as I had been trained.

"That's the real deal!" he observed.

Yep! That. And Mr. Joe Pilates worked to develop core strength in veterans before moving onto full body integration.

(But that's not the point.)

The point is that he and I moved together and created a deeper understanding of our bodies in space and time and life.

That by moving together, we were more deeply connected.

Moving together - "working out" - created a shared embodied experience.

What's the point? (Besides increased abdominal stability?)

That, I'm still exploring. But something in sharing the Pilates hundred (and the rest of the practice) invited me to share more... at least in time and space and movement. But perhaps not verbal communication.

What are your experiences? Have you noticed that you are more connected with someone after you move together (be it skiing, working out, or dancing)?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Researching Horseshoe Crabs

In trying to deepen my understanding of horseshoe crabs, I've been digging into research. I've had the opportunity to talk with some very interesting scientists, educators, and advocates for these little critters.

Here are some of the fun and surprising things I've learned:

  • Female horseshoe crabs move straight out of the current and onto shore to build their nests and lay eggs. Male horseshoe crabs move out of the surf and continue onto a path that is parallel to the surf so  they can attach to a female. (With your two hands, create these pathways and find the moment where your body intersects.)
  • Horseshoe crabs are heavily effected by the moon and the tides.
  • North of North Carolina, horseshoe crabs spawn mid-May through mid-June. In Flordia, they are making babies year 'round.
  • A horseshoe crab mom can lay 20,000 eggs. And they're green!
  • Horseshoe crabs are the keystone species for migratory shore birds. These birds travel from South America into the Artic.
  • Horseshoe crabs have about 10 eyes, but only two act like eyes as we understand them. The other 8 are sensitive to light and are used for naviation.
  • Horseshoe crabs lose their shell and molt like a snake. Their soft body exits through the front of their shell.
  • They can live up to 20 years and are very tiny when they are young - smaller than a quarter!

Last week on Studio 360, Director Mike Leigh discussed how his research influenced his characters. He did not create his characters based upon the research, but allowed the research to exist and be present within the process. (Listen more here). This is how I envision my research. I don't think that my audience will see my dancers BEING horseshoe crabs, but in developing an understanding of their behavior and patterns, my dancers will have a deeper connection to ideas of sustainability, timelessness, community, and interconnectedness. I'm looking forward to seeing what evolves.

We're showing a work in progress at the February 6th InHale Performance Series! Get tickets tickets for InHale

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dancing on a day of service

I'm super interested in the way that dance is a form of service.

Dance performance - the act of seeing, being seen, and sharing (To my audience, I see you. Do you realize that? There might be a 4th wall in performance, but I know you're there. Your energy feeds me as a performer. The fact that I'm performing is acknowledging that you're there - even if you're the only one in the audience, you're there. Your presence is acknowledging me and my performance acknowledges you. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your presence feeds me as a choreographer. What do you want to know? What do you love and feel and experience? How can we connect? Thank you for sharing in the dance!)

Dance education - the act of sharing and experiencing. Non-verbal communication is powerful and the body in motion creates this communication. Ted Talks - Amy Cuddy - Body Language. In developing an understanding of our bodies, we develop a better understanding of ourselves. In developing a better understanding of ourselves, I believe that we develop a better understanding of those around us. We develop empathy through moving together and the dance classroom is a perfect staging ground for this. Yes, the dance studio is laden with preconceived ideas of what a "dancer" looks like... BUT! Curtains can be closed over the mirrors. We can dance together without judgement! A plie is a metaphor for understanding transitions in everyday life.....

Dance practice - understanding another person through the act of moving with him/her. Dancing together brings happiness. Many Western occasions for dancing do surround happiness - celebrations, and social gatherings are times we dance together. But what happens after the dance? or during the dance? A smile. Enjoyment. Connection. Community.

I believe that Dance is service. And there are many ways in which to engage in the Dance. As a mover. As a producer. As a choreographer. As an observer.

How are you dancing, today?