Summer Solo Studio Practice #5

I enter the room today with a plan: spend more time in pause.

Yi-Fu Tuan: “If we think of space as that which allows movement, then place is pause; each pause in movement makes it possible for location to be transformed into place.”

Pauses allow spaciousness of experience, opportunities for both centering and opening of awareness. I’m wondering if experiencing pause can bring me new attention to the place of my body. 

In some ways, yes, in some ways, no. I notice my breath, my sensations, but fatigue crawls in. How to stayed energized in stillness or slowness? How can I tune into the dance that’s happening on a cellular level?

I’m interested in the dance that exists inside myself, not just the dance of my body moving through space.

I give up on my agenda for a while and return to some class material I’m working on. It’s so much easier to proceed when the path is laid out already.

I draw a bit, allowing myself room to pause between the strokes, not overthinking, but listening:


I love the fracturing and rhythm that emerges.

I return to improvisation, recording it this time. When I watch it I take note of the places where I pause or slow down, noticing where my body naturally finds either rest or moments of suspension, moments where kinetic potential increases.

I encapsulate those moments into 8 moves and interweave them into some previous material. The sequencing feels right in theory, but in practice, I find that I’m falling over. Why can’t I do these moves in choreography when I naturally gravitate towards them in improvisation?

I watch the video of my improvisation and realize something: I have a tendency to look either up or down, rarely in the middle. I oscillate between head and tail in the sagittal plane, rarely moving purely horizontally, but through a spiral from down to up. My eyes bypass the horizon line.

This habit isn’t news to me, but I realize an important difference between movement in improvisation and choreography. In improvisation, this darting focus from down to up feels disorienting and delicious, allowing my body to move off center and flow through an internal ride of momentum and sequencing. When I fall off balance, I can soften and redirect.

In choreography, meaning movements that are set and known and should be repeatable (in this instance), I have to plan my transitions. By taking my improvised habits of pause and “setting” them, I made a sequence of movements that feels really impossible to perform because I can’t do them the same way every time. My body feels unreliable because my focus is never on the horizon line. I have to find some moments of grounding, of orientation along the width of the room.

I need find my width in order to find my weight.

I write a bit about this and then a friend comes to visit the studio where I’m working.  I tell her about my discoveries that day and confess that I while I’m enjoying this time in the studio, I feel really far away from anything that could actually become material for a dance. The idea of making a solo for myself still feels hard and out of my reach.

She encourages me to let it go. Use this studio time this summer to practice ideas, keep moving, continue exploring. The residue of what I play with this summer will still be in my body during the school year. It might come back with new, unanticipated purpose when the right context presents itself.

She suggests I think broadly about the world I’m exploring. Are there props? Texts? Images?

I have to keep gathering.


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