What did i learn 5

Vacation week. No dance classes every morning from 9:30. No everyday physical practice of moving together with other people. No lunch every day with the other classmates. Today i thought “Oh, it’s time to write what i learnt this week” and then emmediately “Ah! This week i had vacation, so i don’t need to write anything” and right after that – “But why not? Don’t i learn anything when i am on vacation?”

So what did i learn this week? And did it have anything to do with dance? As usual, my first answer is “i don’t know what i have learnt” and it takes quite some time to get out of this dead end of thought. Maybe this: this week i deffinitely felt how important it is to take some time with individual people from the class and just have some time with this one person. I was sitting in a car together with Claudia for two and a half hours and even though my sit bones were really aching towards the end of the ride, i was very much appreciating this opportunity to talk with Claudia and have the time to let the conversation flow to wherever it wants. No one else to take into consideration or to listen to. I will try to do it with others in my class.

Oh and i have actually learnt a lot about joomla this week. This is a bit more technical, but who says technical is bad? So now i know how to backup a joomla website and how to move it from one place to another. I also know a bit about managing users in joomla. All of this is making me think that maybe i should continue with this occupation for a while even though the thought keeps comming back to my mind that at some point i will have to decide where my focus is. Well, in the meentime no one is offering me money for my dancing so i guess i still don’t have a real dillema.

Vineyard at Esslingen, Germany

What did i learn 4

Showing week…

Strange schedule, hardly meeting the other people in class, going to school in the afternoon and staying until late at night, very different processes in the different pieces i decided to be part of…

For this showing my wish was to feel more than the last time. To not perform in front of an audience with the feeling that i am just performing a task. I certainly felt more this time, especially in my work with Yannis which was like a study lab for contact, improvisation and feelings. I should remember that i am extremely lucky. This makes me feel a little bit better now in this afternoon hour on a sunday, often a moody time for me, and maybe today more than other sundays. But i am lucky and this week i was able to dive in and swim very deep.

I don’t know what i learned this week. I only know after watching a few videos of myself dancing, from this week and also from before, that i would like to focus on working with higher tonus and learn to move with it.

Thinking of the showing week, i wish i had an idea of what approach i would like to have in the future for the next showing weeks. One idea that i have now is that i should stick to ideas that have a very simple physical ground and from there i can work to find the depth, the emotions… the other way, going from an idea to an emotion to movement. doesn’t seem to work so well for me.

What did i learn 3

This week i learned something about what is private and what is personal. I had heard this word, “private” a few times, in the context of what works or what belongs on stage and what does not. I was asking myself if i was the only one who didn’t have a clear idea of what this “private” really was. Were there some things that were just inappropriate to put on stage? How was i going to know what those things were?

Then came a class disscussion led, or supported by Lilo. This helped to make a few things a bit clearer.

If we give it some thought and if we practice observing, then we know “private” when we see it. It doesn’t belong on stage in the sense that it is not a part of the story being told. It’s something which is not meant for the audience but which never the less occurs in front of the audience.

And what is the line between private and not-private when we just practice and not perform? When we do a warm up? Or dance contact improvisation in a jam? I probably need to think more about this to come up with a good answer but right now i think about it as a line that separates between moments when i have my focus on myself (my sore muscles, my feeling tired, my plans for the afternoon/evening, a conversation i had yesterday with a friend… etc etc) and on the other hand moments when i have my focus on the work (how is my foot moving? what direction do i have now? what muscle tonus? who is moving next to me? etc…)

The other word was “personal”. That’s also a tricky word. But to me (for now, until new and deeper insights) the word “personal” simply refers to a single person. Everything that somehow directly “belongs” to that person is personal. Personality is a very good example. The combination of all the qualities, traits, behaviours and habits that make up some pattern which we identify with one person.

What did i learn 2

This week… what did i learn this week…

This week passed so fast. And the weekend even faster. I met my old friend frustration again this week. This week frustration was accompanied by another friend, i’m not sure what he’s called but he comes when i see that i can’t communicate with another person. Maybe anger is his name? Anyway, the combination of the two was just too much and i think this was the first time since the education started that i just let these friends, anger and frustration, throw me out of balnce and out of control. Nothing dramatic happened, i just had to stop. But after a few minutes break i was able to go on with another partner who didn’t make me feel like communication was not an option.

I guess i learned some Capoeira steps (actually i think they are really useful when dancing contact), i learned a new movement sequence from Lilo which helps to start sending out energy through the extremities, i also had some interesting input in other forms – an open stage evening at the school, interesting conversations about performances, dance, teaching… and a very smoky evening at the “Rang Tang Tang” bar in Freiburg.

What did i learn 1

Again, a long time has past and i haven’t published a single post on my blog. So why do i have one? I started thinking, and i still have this thought in my mind, that maybe blogging is not for me. But now two things connected in my mind and gave me a new motivation to write. We will see how long this motivation lasts.

The first thing was Lilo’s suggestion to us (the first year students at TIP) that we try to write down once a week what we have learnt. It can be anything, even very smal and maybe not-so-important discoveries, but the main thing is to reflect over a hole week of school attendance and try to “catch” what one has actually learnt.

The second thing was the name of my blog, “Prosum” which i chose because it is a word in Latin that means “to be useful, to do good”. So hopefully by starting (and maintaining) this thread of weekly thoughts about my own learning, i can be useful first of all to myself, and maybe even to others.

So what have i learnt this week?


This requires some thinking.

This week i bought a new notebook, since the last one was finished and i couldn’t write any notes after class. The two days that went by until i got the new notebook and could write again made me realise how important it is to keep the habit of writing. I guess that’s one thing i’ve learnt this week.

And on a more physical level…

We were doing an improvisation where a group of people has to move every time a count is being called out (1,2,3… until 10). Every one of those “moves” is spontanious, improvised and lasts as long as the teacher (Lilo) decides, until she says “stop”. Then the whole sequence of movement has to be repeated. The different sequences (1,2,3…) are put together until in the end there is one “set improvisation” or “improvised choreography” that is made of 10 sequences of movement, different sequences for every one in the group.

There are many challenges in this excercise – first of all how to move in a way that is more or less free, not letting the pressure of having to remember the sequence slow you down or constrain you movement. On the other hand – how do you remember your own movements? Also, how do you manage this in space – a group of people sharing the space, crossing each other’s paths… of course it works the first time you do every sequence but the problems start when you try to repeat it…

As we were repeating it again and again to figure out our own movements and how they fit with the others’ i felt my sweat running like a river and i felt my lungs and my whole body screaming for more oxigen. Still i went on. Two things were new to me in this situation – one was the feeling that the more out of breath i was, the more my movement became true and the more it increased in some way. I felt i was diving into my movement and letting it evolve to allow me to keep going. The second thing was that even though i was gasping and sweating and generally feeling miserable, i kept going for more and more. Not because someone was yelling at me to do it or anything like that, but because i wanted to. This i still don’t quite understand. How can we feel this physical effort and a kind of joy at the same time?

Dangerous fumes

Dangerous, even poisonous fumes rise from the recently painted surface of the table i found on the street and gave it a makeover. I am breathing them in, feeling the smell and also a strange taste in my mouth. I am not sure that this is a piece of furtinure i want to have in my room, next to my bed, but the sensation of the small white invisible particles entering my respiratory system keeps my mind off another disturbing problem, the gathering of liquid under my knee, or to be exact over the anterior (=front) proximal (=upper) end of my right tibia (shin bone).

This problem, which today i learnt is also called Bursitis, has been bothering me a lot since it appeared a few days ago. Or actually what has been bothering me is not knowing how to act and what to do to not make the problem worse. Probably many people out there have had similar problems in the knee or any other joint. In my case there is no inflamation, only a gathering of liquids in the bursae that pads the tendon below the knee. I also don’t have any pain. And for the past two days i have been treating it as the doctor told me (!), putting quaark (a kind of white cheese) wrapped in a towel over the area. And now a new week of dancing is about to start, with two teachers that i would very much like to learn from. So… should i start moving carefully? Not move at all for another few days? In that case, how many days?

I think what i have learned so far from this injury is that there is no point in time when you can think “now it’s gone. i can start training again.” I think every injury can teach you something about how you should and shouldn’t use your body. And i think i didn’t have this sense of responsibility when i started training again last monday, which was when the swelling appeared. I think i neglected that responsibility and assumed that the rest i had had until then was enough. Now i know more about what i shouldn’t do and i understand what a huge responsibility it is, to always have at least one or two brain cells that in every moment feel the knee, its position, tonus, direction, movement, the pressure on it…

Up up up

“Up up up” was where i wanted to go. I didn’t know why and didn’t know the way to get there but somehow it felt good to have some goal. It also felt good to have a goal that was different from those my two companions, which made us separate and split in three different directions. Already after a few steps (maybe after 20 or 30 steps) i could feel that this was really what i wanted. To walk, alone, in my own pace, noticing as much as i want to notice, keeping the pace that feels right for me – not too fast to be able to see the forest but not too slow so that the walking becomes tiring. I kept a pace that kept my heart in a steady rythm of powerful pumping. I felt more alive, less holy and harmonious and yet in a more true relation with the woods. Some images came to me, of dancing or acting a grotesque act of love making to the point of orgasm with the forest. Taking my longing to be close to nature, or in the nature, and streching it to the point when it is too much, and i have to ask myself what is it that i am longing for. But, i am sure it has all been done before…
On the top of the mountain i couldn’t tell if my breathing and my puls were the result of the physical exertion or the result of my excitement to finally reach the top. Once i was there, i could see hills, mountains, a valley and a city in it and the sky. I knew i had some food in my bag but i felt no hunger.
The way down was beautiful. It was also on the way down that i started to glorify “my sadness”, as i like to call it. “I have this sadness in me” i was telling to the trees to my right and left “and it’s not a part of anything good, it’s just something dark, something sad”. Lucky me, the trees did not put on an understanding and empathic expression and nodded their heads but instead just kept shedding their leaves. Maybe this helped me to realise that i am not only bothered by other people’s difficulty to face this “sadness” and see it as it is, but i am also bothered by my own relation to this part of me. Suddenly Claudia’s words came back to me, or not exactly her words but the spirit of her words. You can experience sadness without being the sadness. you are not what you are feeling. You can witness whatever it is you are feeling and see it and the effect it has on you. So maybe as i am already aware of this darker part of me, maybe i can study it for a while. Notice when it comes, how long it stays, what do i do then and how do i perceive myself.
The autumn is beautiful !

It’s only a performance

This is not a critique. I don’t consider myself a critic when i come to watch a dance performance. And when i try to write something out of a critic’s mind i stop seeing the thing i want to write about and instead i only see my own thoughts and words. “it’s only a rehearsal” is the name of a dance peace choreographed by Ina Christel Johannesen and performed by Line Tørmoen and Dimitri Jourde from the Norwegian Zero Visibility Corp.

Some time while watching the performance tonight i remember myself thinking how important it is to have dancers because they can show us what we can do with our bodies. One way in which dancers do this is to show movement that is fascinating because it’s fast, accurate, organic etc… This is done in the most beautiful way in “it’s only a rehearsal”. But i guess that more than just the movement possibilities the dancer can also show us how reading the body and the movement of another person touches us so effectively. Maybe you are sitting in the audience and are enjoying what you are seeing or maybe you interperet the dancer’s movements as expressing some emotion. And maybe at the same time your body, your nerves, your muscles and tendons and ligaments and bones take this information and store some part of it for future reference. The dancer is a person, just like you, and so he or she can tell you something about you. Even if our bullshit culture makes you forget this, your body knows it because your body is (mostly) not cultural.

Now, a bit surprised and pleased by these thoughts that came to me while writing, i feel that the dancers Line and Dimitri gave me and everybody in the audience tonight a gift, engaging every cell in their bodies to communicate with all of the bodies sitting in the audience, and whisper to them something no one of us can hear, something from a long time ago.

Zero Visibility Corp.

Make a note: i have arms

I have them, so what happens to them? Why do they sometimes stay so passive as if my blood doesn’t flow all the way to my fingers? There is a difference between a stretched and a loose arm. That’s pretty obvious and i think i know it, so why can’t i also integrate it in my movement? Is there a difference between when i am performing and when i am not? Do i forget these things once i stand in front of an audience or am i just not able to sense the tonus and form of some parts of my body, especially my arms? It’s all a bit frustrating on one hand, on the other hand now i know i (still) have something to work on.

I have arms!

What an exciting discovery. Have you ever asked yourself how do you use your arms? What do you do with them? Do you pull yourself forward? Pull things to you? Do you stretch them? tense them? let them hang to the sides of your body? Are they making you heavier or do they carry you forward? Or both? If nobody has ever told you, then i am happy to do it: Your arms are yours! Both of them! You can do with them whatever you want. When you walk, stand, dance… Try it: shake them, throw them, throw yourself with them, stretch them and follow them as long as you can, spiral with them and see where they take you, let them hang and move and see how it feels.

[Thoughts after Bettina’s class, at bewegungs-art]