My personal movement Practice this morning opened with laying around on the floor for about 35 minutes watching That 70s Show with my son as he got ready for classes. I love the floor and the silly show made me laugh.
What better way to open a movement practice than laying on the floor laughing organically?
What better way to start a day?!
I danced in the Nia routine Velvet. I didn’t dance with it. I didn’t dance to it. I danced in it. This, for me is a very specific sensation. I know this routine quite well. I’ve taught it a multitude of times. That let’s me be in two places at one time – alert for refinement and connected to my organic experience.
Something else came into play here. First, I’m teaching one class most weeks (2 twice a month). Second, it had been probably close to a year since the last time I shared Velvet with a class.
After Velvet, I turned on Filaw by Issa Bagayogo to play some more and to challenge my ability to let go of structure, technique and be fluid – liquid – in other words to dissolve my physical and emotional identity into movement. No longer “me” but movement. No longer “here is the movement that occurs in me”, “here is my style”. Not so much “mine” as perhaps spirit. (My apologies for the hideous overuse of quotation marks!)
Lovely sensation of delight and of far less ego and attachment. Not my dance. The dance.
Kalamari Warriors by Bushmen of the Kalahari always creates body giggles and the more I let go of “mine”, the more interesting the body giggles.
Nxa, also by the Bushmen was next. It arrived unbidden; just what came next on the playlist. Not with a typical melody. Percussion with a wall of sound created by what sounds to me like an electronic didgeridoo. I connect easily to percussion, as we all do and these pieces are exciting to my body with the multiple layers of instruments, rhythms and tempos all in one piece. The challenge was to let go of the percussion. What I discovered was breath.
Refresher: Rhythm refers to the duration of a series of notes, and to the way they are organized into groups or units. Beat is the basic unit of measurement. It’s what we tend to tap to, though we may not all tap at the same speed. Tempo is the overall speed/pace of a piece of music. Melody is the predominant theme. Author, musician and scientist Daniel J. Levitin comments melody in This Is Your Brain On Music, “A cognitive psychologist would say that a melody is an auditory object that maintains its identity in spite of transformations, just as a chair maintains its identity when you move it to the other side of the room, turn it upside down, or paint it red.” Levitin also defines Groove as the way in which beat divisions create a” strong momentum”. “Groove is that quality that moves the song forward, the musical equivalent to a book that you can’t put down. When a song has a good groove, it invites us into a sonic world that we don’t want to leave.”
I’ve always associated percussion with blood flow; heartbeat, pumping through vessels – artery pulse versus venous pulse, circulation. Today percussion breathed. It became it’s own melody for this experience. As I let go of my body’s typical or habitual response to drumming and other percussion, my dance began to take on a different form, shape, rhythm and tempo. I was for a moment lost. My mental self began shooting thoughts, but they were familiar. My body moved and sometimes didn’t; found it’s way and then the “way” became elusive and collapsed into smoke.
To be lost is not a place from which we are rescued. To be lost is itself a moment of grace. A moment in which we are empty and in that moment we can choose with what we will fill ourselves. With the new, the fresh, the untested? Or the old, stale, familiar, “safety” of habit?
This consideration invited me into a moment of stillness to acknowledge my heartbeat as a downbeat and my breath as the melody. The rhythm and melody of my body.