Crimson Coast Dance

February 19, 2021: LOOKING FOR NEW WAYS OF MOVING – SOMATIC DANCE & MOVEMENT by Geneviève Johnson

widening all openings
to gather
embodying surrounding sensations

to later scatter
expression
of
smell
taste
sight
touch
pain
balance
temperature
organs floating
limbs and head
relating to space and self

all translated into motion

let the sensed elements
alter all states of being

dance the world through body senses
within to without

Innate Nature of Dancing From Within

When looking at a very young child dancing, we see freedom, ease, spontaneity. Dance is natural, innate. It comes from within.

Then as kids get older, most either stop dancing (adult inhibition) or start dance classes in which they are (most times) put in a frame, a system. Nothing is wrong in this picture so far. What is, is that they are told that going out of the frame is bad.

This natural dance “from within” fades away or becomes an obsessive form to fit in.

Dancing Through Pain

Dancing with pain made me realize that parts of my dance practice – my poetry in motion which I though was coming only from within – were “me-trying-to-fit-in-a-form”. The Butoh form.

Looking for more connection to movement from within, I sought for Donna Redlick’s knowledge around somatic dance and movement repatterning through the Laban/Bartenieff system.

www.donnaredlick.com

When pain hits, movement cannot come from the outside in anymore, it has to come from inside, a place of possibilities in harmony with who you are at the moment.

In search of ways to move through and with the pain, Donna’s repatterning sessions reconnected me with the tripod of the foot as well as the spiraling of leg bones and spine when walking…

With this new found awareness of sensing my weight yielding in the earth and the wave of my spiraling body, my dance was revitalized.

I pursued in this somatic dance exploration.

Somatic of Dancing

Somatic dance is a dance that is created from our “lived body” by exploring ourselves through sensing and moving. It is moving from our unfolding embodied experience of the world. It comes from within.

It is created by attending to our external senses — sight, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching — as well as to our proprioception. Proprioception guides our senses in the world and supports orientation. It determines our ability to respond and relate within the environment. Proprioception encompasses all aspects of movement: kinesthetic (movement) vestibular (balance) and visceral (organs).

With touch being the mother of all senses.

If you think about it, to be heard a sound touches the ear drum, to be tasted a molecule touches the tongue… a smell, a wave of light… are touching our body to be experienced.

To reconnect with a sense of touch, I often use a small squishy ball on which I roll or I use it to tap my body.

(You can watch the video below as an example.)

Somatic Part of My Poetry In Motion

My main goal in working with Donna was to find what can be somatic in dance and movement as well as to explore what it means to teach somatically. It helped me organize what in my practice is somatic in order to put aside what is not and therefore does not make sense for my body anymore.

First, I put aside some formal aspects of Butoh: exhaustion based training, over distorted body positions, principles  of “breaking the body” and “the suffering body”. I then focused on two things to expand:

  • Reconnecting with sensing the world through my body, embodying fresh images of my environment,
  • Exploring and incorporating Irmgard Bartenieff developmental movement patterns in my training and dance.

Sensing (self and world)

My work with Donna awakened a sense of yielding into to the ground, moving with a sense of my weight carving the space around. Sensing the world through all my senses, feels like being fully in the world, able to push from it, supported.

The best way for me to reconnect with the sensing part of moving is to walk or dance outdoor. When I cannot, I like to visualize the contact of the outdoor with myself.

You can explore this with the audio Sensing Visualization I recorded below (it is better done with earphones). Or with the image exercise in Blog #2 (January 8, 2021). 

Developmental Movement Pattern (Through Animal Evolution Images)

Another aspect of the somatic training I am doing that connected with my work is the Developmental Movement Patterns developed by Bartenieff. These are movement patterns humans are going through from birth to adulthood in order to move and function properly of course there are bumps along the way and that is where repatterning (going back to some patterns to rework and solidify them) helps.

But also these patterns are the patterns that the biological evolution took through millions of years. And that is what connect with me the most.

From unicellular being, like an amoeba, to multicellular and complex beings, like humans walking on two feet.

Lie or sit on the floor and explore the six patterns of animal movement below… then when they are installed in your body, link them up in a loop to create the evolution of life on Earth.

Cell (breathing connection)
Imagine being a bag full of sand or jelly and your breathing is moving you. Pushing the walls of your body, your breath is rolling you in space.

Jellyfish (core-distal connection)
Imagine being a jellyfish moving from your center to the end of your feet, hands, head and tail, then from these extremities back to your center. Explore opening and closing.

Fish (spinal connection)
Imagine being a fish, undulating from side to side from your spine.

Frog (upper-lower connection)
Imagine being a frog moving upper and lower body as two block moving towards and away from each other.

Lizard (homolateral connection)
Imagine being a lizard moving in a side-to-side bending fashion bringing elbow and knee of a same side closer together while on the other side they are moving away from each other.

Cat, Monkey, Human (crosslateral connection)
Like a mammal walk on four legs finding a spiral movement of the body bringing opposite arm and leg (knee) closer together as the two others are getting farther apart. Notice this spiraling movement as you walk standing (twist in the spine as opposite arm and leg swing forward).

Being a Pilates instructor, I am also exploring ways to incorporate these evolutionary patterns and animal movements in my teaching. Follow me on this video to feel refresh and get stronger…

My Somatic Practice Philosophy

In the process of my somatic teacher training https://www.donnaredlick.com/dance-teacher-training-mentorship with Donna Redlick, I have reformulated my teaching and creating philosophy to support and develop further my passion of moving and teaching creatively.

Through the on-going
process of transformation
I build connectivity
to self and the world,
while organically moving
with nature outside and in,
inviting my difference and flaws
to spark the embodied poetry of my being
into the creation of poems in motion.

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