Monday, February 25, 2008

Yesterday's Performance

What a difference the sun makes! The cold was bearable even though the temperature was in the twenties. And the light — it was so bright as to be blinding, but mostly it filled the spirit! The sky, an infinite expanse of blue.

We worked along a single line of trees, each relating to one in particular. Several themes emerged.

The reaching up to the sky and the trees.

The leaning into the trees.

The snow was hard and crunchy giving way under our feet and interrupting the flow in weight shift.

No use fighting it. We incorporated interrupted flow into the movement and the crunching became part of the sound.

Staying present to the moment something new is revealed.

Connected. Satisfying.

Photos: Pepón Osorio

Saturday, February 23, 2008

2/24 performance is on!

The forecast for tomorrow is for sun! It is still quite cold so layer up! See you at Bluebell Meadow....

Friday, February 22, 2008

How to dance with branches-- Hanging

One of the first actions I investigated with the branches was "hanging" off the branch. Hanging is an illusion, one cannot really hang off the non-attached branch, at least not in the way one hangs off of a jungle gym, for example.* But you can sort of hang. You can set up an intention for action (I will hang off the branch), or pose a question or an investigation (Can I hang off the branch?, How can I hang off the branch?). These can open entry points into a particular somatic experience that is born from the idea or intention of hanging. In this play of of the imagination and action the work "branches" into the realm of meaning. (More on that at another time.)

For your first attempts you will want to use a fairly long and sturdy branch , one that you can hang most of your weight off of when vertical to the ground (although after a while you can do this with almost any branch you wish to handle). Its easiest to work outdoors on soil or grass or other surface that can anchor the end of the branch into the ground so that it doesn't slip, but you can also work in the studio and play with the delicate balance of the unsupported branch or with supporting the end of the branch with a body part, for example a hand or foot. You will want to work slowly so as to sense the angle(s) and position (s) of the branch and body, and amount of weight you can release and the force of the grip at any given moment in your journey.
Place the branch vertical to the ground. Hold branch gently with one or both hands sensing the shape/line/flow of the branch. Sense the vertical line of energy moving into the ground. Test dropping your weight into it as if using a walking stick to support your weight. Let your elbow (s) drop and s l o w l y start to hang off the the branch. Follow, experience, the pathways of movement the hanging initiates in the body, allowing other parts of the body to hang: the head, the legs. Don't rush. Notice the giving into gravity move sequentially (branching) through the body.

As you work, you will find multiple ways to hang. You can hang forward as if supporting yourself on a walking stick. You can hang back using the vertical branch to support the arch. You can hang from different stances, lunges, squats, even sitting. You can even "hang" off the branch while at the same time lifting it vertical or horizontal to the ground.

You can use two branches to hang. You can even hang from the branch while resting on the ground.

Each approach poses different opportunities for exploration, understanding, connections, and meaning.

Try not to get ahead of yourself. Stay in the moment. As you begin to hang off the branch find the sense of the weight dropping through the legs. Let the feet open to allow the energy of the legs to move back into the ground, into the earth. Receive, sense, the upward thrust of gravity through the legs. Shift the balance by moving between the action/sense of hanging off the branch and/or off your skeletal structure. Notice the potential dance/drama that lives within the shifts.

Go back to the hand, top the point of contact. Where does the grip end and the hang begin? Can you soften the grip? Can you balance the energy in the rest of the body to match the energy of the grip?

Stay with whatever you are feeling at the moment. Feel the emotional content or potential of the action. Magnify it. Let this inform your dance.

This work is a marvelous aid for releasing the joints and sensing the bones as support structures from which muscles can hang. There is a way you can release the joints of the hips and legs and drop into the bones that heightens the action, sensation, and experience of the bones holding you up while the muscles release. As we use upper body strength to lift off the the legs we can allow them to "hang", an experience that supports the exploration of dynamic alignment in weight shift, and which increases efficiency and fine articulation of movement and our ability to "fold" the legs.

* You may want to try hanging off different surfaces such as a jungle gym, or different body parts ( for example hips off the sofa) to experience the sense of clearly supported hanging before moving into the illusion.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Reflection on today's performance

This morning before going out to the park I doubted, why are we doing these performances? Yesterday's rehearsal had been tough, oh so cold! We almost ran back to our cars, our feet and hands no longer numb, simply hurting. Although unspoken, the doubting was palpable,

except for Noemí— she was happy, thrilled to be out in the winter sun,

and Toshi, as always quiet and present.

So today, upon meeting,
it seemed appropriate to
try to remember why
we were there.
No good doing this
without loving it.
How to turn the
doubting around,
how to reconnect
with the work?

The doubting is useless,
self-defeating. How do we
survive the hurting cold?
Move away from the pain;
use the walk to the site to
reconnect/warm-up to the
point of contact, to figure out how to
hold the branch through layers of gloves, how to move the fingers to keep the warmth flowing.

We arrive at the site, set
up the video cameras, and
begin. I so appreciate these
artists! The doubting was
discarded in the parking
lot; everyone tunes in.
Stillness. Listening. Patience.
Slow, slow, slow, shifting into
balance. Quiet, attentive, present.

The performance unfolds. Almost
immediately a woman jogging
by repeats over and over again,
thank-you! this is great! this is so
inspiring! have a great day!

Bikers and walkers pass us from all directions; they seem comfortable with us, as are we with them. We all are present, connected, calm, holding the space. The mood has shifted. No more doubting.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

How to dance with branches-- Centering, Point of Contact

This entry is for anyone who is curious about working with the branches and wants to try it for themselves. I will follow up with various entries on different practices we have developed in working with the branches.

Dancing with the branches can be a centering and aligning experience. Its really a duet between you (your awareness and experience of body/mind/spirit), and the branch, an inanimate object that was once part of a living tree and whose form is a solid manifestation of the tree's movement and flow connecting earth and light.

As with any partnership, you must be responsible for yourself. Before you start take a moment to ground yourself. Notice your breath. Gently shift your weight on your feet and sense the shift in balance through the body. Open your joints to allow energy to move through your body. Open the soles of the feet; sense the weight dropping through the legs and the feet into the earth; at the same time sense the upward thrust of gravity. Feel yourself gently poised in gentle balance.

The dance begins at point of contact.
Pick up a branch. Hold the branch. Connect with/to it. Sense it. Feel its weight. Receive its weight. Feel/see/sense--- the shape/line/flow of the branch. Allow the touch, the feeling in the hands, the shaping in the hands, the reception of the branch's weight and your awareness of line and alignment to resonate through the rest of the body. Notice how each action or response triggers a whole new set of actions and responses. Slow down. Soften the touch. How softly can you hold it? Cultivate awareness.

A dance emerges. Let your body shift as you balance your body to match the touch. Ride the shifting energy(ies). Ride the edge of balance.

Take your time. Stay with/savor/enjoy the experience. Allow the dance to take you where it will.