Friday, May 4, 2012

End of Semester Ballet Video Thoughts


Seeing this video, I have certainly seen many things that I have improved on, but I however have seen a lot more of what I need to work on. It appears that bringing into awareness any mistakes is the first battle in being able to apply the correction. At the beginning of the barre, I did notice that though the majority of time I appear to have a good tucked tailbone, at the very last minute coming down, sometimes it doesn't hold. So, the correction I can make to this is actually to feel as if the tailbone has been in its same position even seemingly past the limit I can make it go to. This would also keep the energy in better flow.

There is also something I am trying to figure out how to round even more when it comes to the cambre. I could manage having a better rounding and fluidity to it. I sometimes feel it may be my body structure and muscles themselves perhaps making it a little more difficult to pull it off the way I want it to be.

I noticed in various of the barre exercises, that I could do a better job at stationing my pelvis. This was especially seen while doing rond de jambes. The rond de jambes en l'aire could appear to have even more extension, event though I feel I do have extension. It is likely the pelvis and not going beyond the energy of the foot enough or video tricks.

Center & Across the Floor

Putting developing a quicker on-the-spot memory to the side (as it's always a goal),  I could definitely finish movements better. Though I am using a little bit more arms, I have a lot of work to give them more clear positions. I will have to do isolated moves on my own to get a gracefulness of them and the feeling of the sustained time of each particular movement. Then feeling the connection between them. The connection is so very important like the importance of forming a gramatically correct sentence instead of having each word in the sentence spelled correctly.

On the types of Glissades

To glissade means to slide. There are several types of glissades, but four will be discussed-- glissade dessus, glissade dessous, glissade devant, and glissade derriere (not talked about will be glissade avant and glissade arrière. The differences between all of these is in where the move starts and where it ends.

Dessous means above or over, whereas dessus means underneath or below. Glissade dessus would begin with right foot back in 5th position and ends with the left foot back. Glissade dessous is similair, yet right foot starts in the front and finishes in the back. So basically (a way I can remember it now), Dessus back, weave, end front, and Dessous front, weave, end back.

Devant and Derrier are easier to explain in that they do not change. The initiating foot of the Glissade Devant is the right foot in the front and ends in the right foot in the front. The Glissade Derrier, is the same thing but happens in the back.

Friday, April 13, 2012

between|in|movements [in-between movements]

This a concept that I knew about in the back of my head, but did not totally get utilized more until coming into Modern 2. I would agree that the connections between the movements are more important. Without the interconnecting movements, one is using parts, and not the whole. Just as the body can be used in a whole-body way, so can the dance be seen as a whole-dance. The dance is not only composed of endpoints but midpoints and transitions. The choreographer can, in a sense, choose any fragment of movement and deem it a "marker", but in reality, the movements are as one continuous flux. Using film as an example, and this seems like a great exercise, one could film a dancer, then randomly assign stop points of movement, and those movements would be the actual places instructed. The smart connection between the movements would likely not deviate a tremendous amount from the original intended dance with the original "marks" that the instructor gave because a good dancer would likely possess a sort of somatic memory of how one movement is to connect to the other based off the choreographer's intention.

So dancers are like a rolling film, not like pieces of photographs, though the film can appear to pause for a moment to then gracefully resume, yet the still was not physically stopped, but continued to roll the entire time. The "energy" remained both in movement and in a period of sustaining. To better in dancing in strong connecting movement is likely to get the marked movements down but not to be completely taken over by them, for they are only a starting point that will get from one place to the next. In a sense, it would be like being fixated on past or future, when really, the magic is in the present, which can be as the in-between movements from one movement to the next. A sustained movement can even be a transition--which is a perpetual transition from itself to what (by illusion) appears to be itself again, yet both instances are different in the minutest of ways. In the sustained movement, one would want to show life from one second to the next, and not in only the first second.

Space-time has many paradoxical features to it (when thought about in a "rational" fashion--the language in which many are convinced is more than a language). As in number theory where the fragmentation from one digit to the next is an infinity, so movements from one point to the next can be viewed the same way. There is but one marked movement, yet in-between movements appear to very much outweigh the marked ones because there is so much of what appears "more" of it. If we are travelling from one movement to the next, we have two marked movements, yet those are only two out of the potential showing of way more within the "in-between" which is infinity. We can thus approach showing or resembling the nature of a lively infinity. In dance, we have the ability to express 1 --> 2 --> 3 where the marked or fragmented may have not even been noticed all that much except at the beginning and end of the dance itself, expressing an artistic representation of the encompassing infinity and harmony in integration.

In displaying this with dance or any art form, it may serve as that "reminder" to make "whole" again many things that are part. In the end, I will say that at this current stage, I certainly see the in-between movements as being more important, yet in a context way out of dance, an intuition in me says that this may have not always been the case--that there were many a moment where there was a whole lot of whole, and a desire to burst out of that and make parts, just to see how they could be made whole again. The cosmic game of the serpent, which I will deem fun, even when it appears to others terrifying. In the future, in having so much somatic intelligence of connection from one movement to the next, the contrarian in me would likely want to in a sense erase the memory and start again. I really wonder if this idea sparked the imagination of several Butoh dancers. The paradox though comes in that their appearance of possessing dissonant connecting movement may be very progressive in a sense--a harmony with the disharmony. The humbleness of a dancer who, with so much a field of somatic intelligence creates a work to appear to not have that intelligence (yet utilizing it in a sort of behind-the-scenes way from their vast somatic resources), is very inspiring to me. The idea draws me as it would the Scorpio (me being that in Sun, Moon, Mercury, and Saturn)--in that (as Zoë expressed) they have so deadly a stinger, yet they often decide to not be the monster, and be more the other way around as perhaps captivating and without harm, despite having the potential to be dangerous.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Far Reach

If it can be remembered, the concept of far reach past ones own immediate self seems to be very helpful. The concept is to "send the energy outward" as if you are extending well beyond your own limbs. The visualization assures the dancer that energy to the body will circulate. Personally, when I visualize reaching far, I think of shooting lines that go out for blocks. The trick is to remember to do even do this.

Being able to do this will have an individual appear to have better lines, and I would imagine that it would make it easier to complete movements. Reaching beyond oneself in dance is a matter of quality. The act requires steady breath and confidence. Extending to the furthest point without appearing strained in doing so is a refined art; pulling it off may be as being able to accurately hit a target effortlessly.

The problem is that we extend to what appears to be just the end of our limbs, but in so doing this, it appears that the energy ceases. I would imagine that similair types of visualization would give the same result like visualizing oneself dancing but with a larger dance body. I suppose one could also go into a third person mode, and visualize themselves from the vantage point of somebody else whom is seeking nothing but far reach beyond oneself.

The type of growing-beyond-oneself visualization is actually commonly used for self-empowerment, and is even taken to the extreme in working with western magick. In particular, the beginning of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram has one grow beyond themselves so large that they eventually become as big as the entire universe.

Friday, March 30, 2012


The limbs must, in a sense, extend out to the ends of the studio, and even further perhaps. The connection with the outside world and others must be made in order to pull off presence and uniformity. It's oftentimes difficult getting outside of ones own self when executing a movement. As I might have mentioned before, there may be moments of fluid actionless seeming action (wu-wei). It is likely at that realm that one can begin to extend his spacial and environmental awareness.

Personally, with the awareness exercises, it comes very natural if I am not given any time to think. It's as if mind tries to trick the body that it is only by it that anything can be accomplished. This is that constant struggle between mind and body as two separate entities. Merged into one, they will likely accomplish the most of what one desires. In a dance performance, after one gets out of being too inward, and spreads the awareness to encompass the whole stage and even the audience, everybody would be very together as if all being connected by invisible bands.

The blog post that precedes this really ties in if one is relating awareness to consciousness. In this case, to Ken Wilber, speaking in terms of having body awareness, we are working on the ego level, which contains both ego and body, but split up into a duality. In terms of resolving that spacial awareness outside of ones personal ego/body, we are working on the existential level, which has upon it a splitting of organism and environment. Dance appears to put a lot of emphasis on both of those levels.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dance & the Transcendental

I devote this blog to Terpsichore, the Greek muse of dance, and Shiva, the cosmic dancer!

In a very deep state of meditation some months ago, I remember feeling the intelligence of the body, and the relief felt from this. That, even though the mind believes itself to not be doing enough, it's actually the body that will learn, but it will not feel as if it learned, but will feel as if it was always part of it--as if the self has been thrown into another world altogether where such knowledge was innate. That is what my body wants to do-- claim various movements as its own like extensions of itself. I have a reason to believe that it is the mind that makes things more difficult for the body to do this--or, too much stress on the mind, which causes a tip in the scale of mind/body connection.

In Ken Wilber's book, Spectrum of Consciousness, he talks about body intelligence when dealing with the existential level of awareness, where body and mind are one. At the existential level, the only split (the duality) is that of organism and environment (perceiver and perceived, life and death), but ego and body split have not happened yet. That's the next splitting of "awareness". Finding the unity of organism I can see as being very beneficial to the dance world. That's the duality I prefer to be in, for it's the one of what Ken Wilber and other esoteric teachings view as the first major split. It's the split of movement (or the first block upon the infinity field), and movement is what "I" have currently made a life-long game out of. Many trance states have placed me into seemingly unified realms of existence, that had a flavor of merging the inward and outward, perceiver and perceived. In a sense, blasting away all dualities known to where nothing and something is identical, and paradoxes of logic seem to have all the sense. To some, that may be entitled "enlightenment", but I scoff at absolutes, and prefer the idea of process. Life may be as a perpetual process that is always simultaneously justifying and negating itself. The word that comes to mind is "movement" which has a blatant association with dance. Though all is (appears as) movement, if you ask anybody what dance is, the word "movement" may actually cross their mind, whereas something else, like say "math", somebody may not immediately think "movement" but something else, even though it's very much a part. In this sense, I have formed dance into something symbolic as an example of how to live.--an endless reminder that to live is to move. It is honestly this very idea, along with the health benefits, that keeps me dancing. I am such a person that is lured by something if I am convinced it is of profound nature. Something which I am trying to even deprogram myself with, for it by default makes me miss out on things. I should even venture into the superficial things at times, for a spice (though of course, in an intelligent manner--as paradoxical as that may seem).

I've attuned myself to process and movement because beyond that is a world in which I have ventured (and you and I are already venturing there in a sense) and it's a base that is like the light of a projector. That light (powerful symbol used in religion) has been "seen" too often, but what about all the wonderful "film negatives" one can place upon that so as to become "the artist"--the artist, which moves and moves, nearly like Albert Camus's mover of the rock of Mount Sisyphus. I will move, and I will enjoy this moving in and of itself because I can. Is the ends the means? I've no interest in being fixated in the "all". That is where things begin. That is as the background of this blog. Yes, yes, we may all give praise to the background, but I will not look at a blank screen all day. This very philosophy may be why Occultist Eliphas Levi praised the Baphomet.

The Gnostics have called that base realm "the all" that cannot be known (as the Taoists and  Zen schools have) because the very action in thought is already setting oneself up for failure like a programmed robot trying to figure out "the programmer". Some, like mathemeticians Cantor and Godel, literally drove themselves mad over trying to "grasp" that infinity realm (via their attempting of solving the "continuum hypothesis")--the Buddhists call that realm the Gateless Gate. One may get a taste, albeit a very mythology/archetype slanted one--via dying and shamanic "mock-deaths". Many are fixated on this unimaginable "realm" of which we are already in, but forget that there is a world out there, of movement. (To regress, it's interesting to mention that Ken Wilber places mythology/archetypes between the spectrum of "the all" and the "existential" level; and says, drawing upon Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung, that it's the highest one can get to realizing the nature of existence, for beyond that, at the level of infinity, it's so unknowable, an atheist may appear just as valid as a theist. I love Eliphas Levi's quote--"A God defined is a God dethroned"; this "God", of course is of the "the all" variety, haha. The realm between "the all" and "existential" is also said to be the most trickster of the levels--It's no wonder that many unpleasant monsters live there.) Life movement is a game, and for practical reasons (Buddhists may say the avoidance of suffering, and to Kabbalists, the gaining of a non-waning desire), one must keep moving, which has a sense of constantly surrendering. To Aleister Crowley, this would be to pull the death card endlessly, for all must die always, if one wants to live, for Life and Death are friends. I'm more friendly towards the Zen version of enlightenment which one form deems the same as life of the everyday, except "two inches from the ground". To get there though, Zen masters have surely adopted a perpetual emptying-of-the-cups type of lifestyle.

So movement/process is my idea of choice (which entitles releasing--energy is moving). In class, I must empty, empty, empty and receive instruction, and let the body feel this, and let the mind have a peak too, but not to let it be so domineering. The ego/mind is as the Egyptian Typhon archetype (same symbolism as Arch Angel Michael and Satan), of which Thoth keeps down with his foot. He does not destroy this being, but keeps it in check. The devil archetype--of which can be the dragon, serpent, crocodile, and possibly even some form of extra terrestrials--have always stood for knowledge. One must venture into the cave bravely. The relationship of knowledge is that we must know of its existence so as to know what not to do, else, if we do not know it's there, "it" may get the best of us. We may all desire to have "control" and an ability to make good decisions.

I can keep this up all night. This is another reason I dance--to put more energy on my body. It's interesting to note that before I started dancing, I was writing and pondering and thinking a lot, and it seemed to have put a strain on my body, as if the energy was so much being placed upon my "crown" and "third eye" centers that it caused an imbalance and took away from some energy flowing through the whole body. I developed back pain which was so unpleasant, I had a hard time moving for a month. After joining dance, the pain quickly got better. Chiropractics didn't seem to help, and yoga, though I do love it, seemed to be slow as well. Dance, on the other hand, quickly made me recover. I feel as if I have no "choice" but to put my body through vigorous movement endlessly, else my body will start to want to breakdown again, as if my mind were eating it all up. It's as if I can seep in a tremendous amount of energy into my body, but then it gets "trapped" in there, and dance is the only way for the energy to flow out again. I have formed an appreciation for Hatha Yoga, rolfing, and other movement forms because of their emphasis on body--working from body up (which then you link up to the mind). We must take care of our bodies and pay attention to it since we live with it. It's our temple. The mind can go so far as using metaphor and myth, but the body is a tool that can bring revelations as well, which is the reason shamans use dance.

Dance has been a blessing. More and more, I am allowing my life to be infiltrated by its expression--applying dance to more and more things in life, until everything becomes a dance.

Class Video Thoughts

Video taping the class was a great idea, for it allowed me to see more clearly the many things I need to work on. The class is relatively quick compared to what I am used to, but it helps me because it forces me to tune in immediately. Sometimes my mind floats if the instruction is slow anyway. I try to battle this with eating lean before Ballet and Modern. I am super introverted by nature (Scorpio Sun, Moon, Mercury), so having awareness of my outside world could always use work. 

At the barre, the first thing that anybody can notice is that not everybody is synchronized. This, I realize, should be a goal for the class because if everyone is together, then that means everyone is having an expanded awareness of the entire room. This, as Christina says, is very important for Ensamble work. As for technique at the barre, I saw that my pelvis could have been more stable with certain combinations. To do this, more emphasis will have to be put on engaging the abdomen, especially the lower abdomen, to hold the pelvis in place. This, I know, also makes anything else, especially fondus, much easier to do.

At the center, I noticed that my posture could be better. I need to hold myself up straighter it appears, and not to lean into the moves. I am still, of course, trying to get comfortable with the use of arms such as ecarte and efface. I actually cannot wait for the day that I use all the arms naturally without thinking. I am starting to incorporate them more and more as the days go on. I also noticed that there are transition of arms, in the across the floor, that would make it much easier to do. 

Ballet is a refined discipline, of which, I am obviously fond of. I took four years of Tae Kwon Do in my youth, so there may have been habits that carried on from there, I am sure. Visualization of a rock-hard pelvis down, to satin pelvis up, is very helpful with constant use of breath. Ballet done correctly, I see as a nearly surrendering of the self to pure universal energy, being put into a trance state. In a sense, to allow the Greek muse of dance Terpsichore (maybe even Shiva too--the cosmic dancer) to do a number on you.