Movement Inspiration & Imagination

Why should you even bother trying to imagine you are an animal or anything else than a human in general? What could be found in such an imaginative practice?

 

Imagination opens doors to a world full of boundless inspiration and joy. When I immerse myself in this world, I can experience myself anew and explore other traits of myself. I momentarily leave our “reality” and enter a state where the only limit is my own imagination. In this world, it doesn’t matter what skills I have or what I can do, it doesn’t matter how I perform or what expectations I meet. I can try and experiment, I can change my perspective and see the world through the eyes of a jaguar, for example. Instead of moving through an empty studio, I can sneak through a dense jungle and acquire exciting and vivid qualities through that alone.

 

For me personally, vivid is the key word here. Since I have not only been working on pure skills in my practice (e.g. Cartwheel) but have been trying to change the quality, the HOW of a skill through imagination exercises (Jaguar sneaking up on prey in Cartwheel), new ways of moving have been revealed to me which are based on personal experience and connection and which have a deeper meaning. When I do this new cartwheel, it doesn’t feel like just a skill – a container without content – but very vivid and full of details – a container filled with memories, feelings, ideas.

 

It is very important that the imagination is based on my own experiences. So I choose images with which I feel connected. Maybe for you it is not a jaguar, but an eagle or a mouse. Maybe it’s not an animal, maybe it’s the thought of water. 

 

As I said, imagination has no limits – which does not mean that it is immediately accessible. Like everything else, it takes practice for the images to become more and more real and vivid.

To conclude this topic for now, a few words from a great artist:

 

“Everything you can imagine is real.” – Picasso

As you might know I draw a lot of inspiration for my practice from nature and especially the animal kingdom. One animal or family of animals I feel especially inspired by are felines. The gracefulness and power, the elegance and suppleness, the wild and the lethal, the playfulness of their movements provokes something inside of me which I feel very connected to.

 

This year I have been researching a lot how I can integrate such qualities into my movement and what outcome this produces. I won’t give you any insights into what I found out but invite you to study for yourself. Amongst many drills and tasks here are some of my favorite ones.

 

Grow claws and a long tail, shift your weight to create potential, attack and observe with your eyes.

Obviously, any other animal or image could be as interesting as this one. Maybe you will find a personal image that keeps inspiring you and seems connected to you.

The Boneless Skin-Only Alien

 

Or: Spinal Awareness, Head-Pelvis Connection and Suppleness

I have been researching within my practice of acrobatics, dance and improvisation a certain quality a lot which I connect to the image of said Alien. The research consciously started while working with @tomweksler on a quality he calls “squeeze“: activating a larger amount of muscle while moving. While working on this quality I immediately felt connected to it and noticed I have been using a similar quality mostly unconsciously when practicing spinal articulations and generally when moving in way to “self massage“ from the inside. Since Tom introduced me to his squeezing quality, I have been adding personal experience and meaningful information in order to integrate this quality deeper in my own practice. The outcome is “The Boneless Skin-Only Alien“.

 

In this video I am sharing some ideas that are connected to this concept and some drills which could be seen as a container in which you could place said content (the quality). The quality could be relevant in many other disciplines and I invite you to study this for yourself. What exactly you will get from the study you will have to figure out, I personally feel that practicing this quality can reward me with more suppleness, spinal awareness and relaxation and on top of that plenty of inspiration for deepening my practice.

 

What? While moving lie full awareness on spine and especially connection from head to tail. I personally like to engage my center (corset around torso) and let the movement originate from there. Be aware of the sensation around your skin and how moving this way massages your muscle from the inside. See how this study affects fluidity and connectivity in your body.

Having the possibility to explore and fail 

 

In my current personal practice there is no need or pressure to perform, compete or fulfill certain guidelines (I mean there is gravity, potential for injury and stuff like that that I need to respect). Because of that I have a lot of freedom to express myself in as many different ways and forms as I want to.

 

In this Demonstration I played with the idea of not having bones, just skin and musculature.

The outcome is a very special quality that is very interesting and intriguing. At other times I played with different qualities/ways of doing which led into nothing. No inspiration, didn’t work!

And that is great. Being able to experiment and not having to fear failure is very freeing.

 

I think practicing exploring over and over leads to more curiosity for a given subject. And curiosity is what I thrive on.

Not only in my physical practice but in many aspects of live I feel this very deep curiosity and interest to see what lies beyond my current understanding/knowledge/experience.

Having the possibility to explore and fail Pt. 2

 

In my last post I described how much freedom I get by experimenting through my movement practice without needing to fear failure.

 

Very important to add now is that this concept can be applied to many disciplines BUT depending on WHERE you want to go or WHAT you want to achieve, this open exploration may be used more or less. If there are certain rules that you have to follow, using an open exploration like this can add value by opening new ways of looking at things BUT can also very much hinder your progress.

 

You can see in this video that many if not all of the tricks/moves I tried where quite sloppy and that’s fine, since this was NOT about going for technical quality. Here I tried to play with the idea of going for something, noticing what I was doing and last second trying to go for something else. Very interesting and quite hard.

Supporting Acrobatics Awareness and Conditioning

When practicing supporting acrobatics (acrobatics where you temporarily stack your bodies center of mass on top of the hands, like in cartwheels, macaco, forwards cartwheel, etc.) it is necessary not only to have adequate amount of strength and mobility but also to develop the awareness of where you need to place your arms so you can support your body best while doing an inversion. In this section I will show some very nice drills that you can use.

Core Principle and Drill for Awareness and Conditioning in Acrobatics

 

Today I want to share a great drill with some variations to support your “Supporting Acrobatics“ – Acrobatics that involve supporting yourself temporarily with one or two arms.

 

This drill aims to increase awareness on where to place this supports and condition your shoulders for expected load. After watching this, understanding the principle and practicing the given drills I hope you can find new possibilities and options in your acrobatics practice.

 

If you have any questions about the video and the content, please simply share and I will happily give an answer, providing I have one.
If you wish to engage in a practice that involves acrobatics, floor moves, playfulness and improvisation you can inform yourself about my Finding Flow Online Programs. On Monday, March 8th my “Integrations“ course will start – created for beginners movers with pre-existing knowledge.

‘Supporting Acrobatics‘

 

Supporting your body with one or two arms on the floor while dynamically going through different shapes. Awareness of where to place those supports in order to carry your weight for the duration of the acrobatic move. Awareness of when to push with the shoulder and when and where to receive the floor with a second arm/one/two legs. Awareness of where and how much tension/relaxation is needed.

 

I like squeezing through supporting acrobatics. Can you see that?

Ambidexterity – Developing Symmetry

Should you practice a skill on both sides? Should we aim to develop a symmetrical body? What are the benefits of aiming for symmetry? In this article I share reflections on this topic and give insights to why I think symmetry is neither desired nor possible and why developing two different sides with different qualities could be more interesting.

Some thoughts on whether it is useful to practice on both sides or if it is necessary to reach a state where both sides can perform on the same level

 

Basic assumption: If you spend your time practicing everything on both sides you won’t reach the same depth as if you would spend your time practicing only on one side (Ressources).

 

That being said, it really boils down to WHAT you want to reach in your practice, WHY you are practicing and IF there is a special need to be equally good on both sides.

If there is a special need to be equally good on both sides, of course spending time practicing both sides to the same extend makes sense.

 

In Frank R. Wilson’s book „The Hand“ the author writes a lot about why we as humans tend to have a more dominant side (writing, throwing stuff, etc.). Two main points:
A. If you need to be able to throw real good (fe for hunting reasons) you want to practice as much as possible on one side (resources)
B. very interesting: actually the author does not like to talk about a dominant and a non dominant side – if you think about it, both sides have to do their work in order to fulfill a goal (the free Arm in throwing is being used as a counterbalance, etc).

 

So, if there is no special need to practice on both sides, why could it make sense to work on the other side as well?

1. If you practice something over and over on one side only, your body will adapt to this stimulus. In some cases this can (not a must) lead to injuries. In that Case it would make sense to either practice on both sides or do another activity where you are working on the neglected side.

2. In many disciplines it can be an advantage if you can do something on both sides (in my practice I have more options this way, in skateboarding competitions you will receive a higher scoring when doing something on the other side, etc.)

 

What I personally find interesting: instead of reaching a state of equal performance on both sides I like to find different qualities on each side.

Diving Into The Floor – A Floor Practice

In my personal practice, moving in and out, across and through the floor is a key element. In this collection of videos and articles I want to give insights into my thoughts behind such a floor practice.

Why and How can such a practice be relevant to keep you healthy? How can you find a sense of groundedness through such a practice? How can you soften the body when meeting hard floor?

Practicing on hard floor

 

If you have ever tried rolling around hard floor, you have probably noticed that we in fact have bones. Yes, that’s right. Bones and hard floor are not the best friends, at least not in the beginning. And since the lockdown and for some of us hard floor being the only valid option to move on, I created this video.

 

In the first part of this video I am showing my way of becoming friends with hard floor: patience, adaptation, slowing down and strategizing.

 

In the second part I show that different kinds of floor allow for different kinds of movement and that each floor has certain pros and cons – depending what you want to do. Like playing the guitar on different guitars will produce different sounds and hence different songs and styles, practicing on wood, sand, grass, concrete, gravel or any other floor will potentially inspire you to move differently and also will produce a different style. Worth investigating.

Floor Entries for a diverse and soothing floor practice

 

In this video I myself and Flo, a student and friend from Munich, showcase some relatively easy floor entries (from easy to a bit more complex) which you can try to copy.

 

Note: these videos do not serve as full tutorials or breakdowns. For a full version check out my Finding Flow Online Programs or Workshops.

 

The focus while practicing should be on continuity (moving in a rather slow but continuous tempo), clarity (being precise which parts guide the movement and which can be relaxed) and reducing effort (how can you place your limbs for easy transitions, etc.). These scores should be practiced often and with a lot of awareness in order to manifest themselves in your movement.

 

To end the practice you can openly explore both the patterns and the scores in some rounds of free improvisation. No fancy moves, but a lot of clarity, relaxation and ease!

Diving into the Floor

 

A practice of entering and moving across the floor, riding momentum and taming gravity.

 

This part of my practice, the floor part, is like home to me. The feeling of groundedness and suppleness that comes with it is just great and it makes me come back again and again.

Actually, out of all parts of my practice, moving across the floor feels the most therapeutic and calming. The constant pressure on muscle and the needed softness (especially on hard floor) produce a wonderful sensation.

 

Currently when doing my floorpractice I focus mostly on the connection from head to pelvis, how I can squeeze my spine through space and how my limbs can support this sensation.

Lastly, by trying to ride the wave of momentum, placing my limbs in most supportive positions and letting go where no tension is needed, I try to search for minimal effort.

Floor Practice & Low Level Motion

 

Moving across the floor can be done in various styles and using different techniques that fit to the setting. In martial arts like Brazilian JiuJitsu (while I have minimal experience it’s way too little to give in depth knowledge) you also move across the floor – the moves are limited by the rules and objectives of the practice though.

 

There are more freeformpractices like floorwork, locomotion, floreio, animal movement just to name a few that also deal with the topic floor, you and motion. Usually there are certain unwritten rules (which are quite malleable) to how one moves in those practices. I have been studying quite a few of such practices and took what I resonate with and left behind what didn’t serve me.

 

It seems like I prefer pathways that do not require so much strength (as „locomotion“ practices for example do a bit more) but can be solved with technical use of momentum and body organization.
The last months I have also been connecting floor moves to animalistic qualities that jungle cats might possess.

Diving into the Floor – A quick introduction

 

I am really fascinated with and passionate about the idea of moving in and out of the floor, using gravity, your body and the floor to your advantage and building a movement vocabulary around that subject.

 

While movements like these shown in the video will be most likely associated with dance, acrobatics or other freestyle forms, I do believe in the great value they offer for all people – not only dancers or specialized groups – interested in keeping their body healthy, vital and supple.

So the interesting question I propose is: How can we use the floor and gravity to our advance?

 

RESILIENCE: depending on how hard the floor is, rolling over the floor massages your muscles, toughens your joints and builds resilience in your body

MOBILIZATION: through the many movement possibilities and various shapes your body will go through, your whole apparatus (and especially your spine) will get mobilized and a feeling of suppleness and length will occur after practicing

STRENGTH: since gravity is always there and we’re constantly moving from up to down, a strength adaptation is inevitable (less linear strength more „organic strength“)

EFFICIENCY: most importantly we learn to minimize muscular effort for maximum efficiency and smoothness (a sense of effortlessness)

GROUNDING: the floor becomes your playground and not something that scares you, a feeling of security and competency

 

There are many more benefits of a floor-practice but these are some very interesting ones to think about.

Another video from last weekends Finding Flow Workshop hosted by @movementbielefeld – thank you again, Julian!

 

Over the course of the Weekend I proposed an idea how to make sense of the broad topic of „floor communication“ – the ability to move in and out of the floor, from up to down using techniques or improvised patterns.

 

Before showing some of my go to patterns which are easily learnable for beginners and can be adapted for more advanced students, I like to introduce open-form games so that the participants can explore the floor by themselves, feel the connections between their bodies and the floor and find individual strategies to move on/in and out/across the floor in multiple layers.

In this Demo I tried to show how you can find transitions between the given elements and continuously move between the layers. My workshops are mainly frequented by beginner/intermediate movers and my main interest is to give an introduction to the topic and still, already an understanding of basic moves and principles can result in quite a diverse and variation-rich practice!

Communicating with the floor, gravity and habitual movement patterns.

 

The idea of moving in and out of the floor, communicating with it is very appealing to me. The last years of my practice were more or less dedicated to that matter and I’m yet to scratch the surface.

While practicing I often think about what great benefits a practice of moving in and out of the floor has – not only for specific disciplines like dance or acrobatics or that sort but for every human being in general.

The variety of shapes and maneuvers that your body goes through, the ever existing force of gravity that has to be overcome and the continuous search for efficiency and suppleness.

What can you learn from the floor and gravity?
How can you move in this gravitational force field with ease and weightless?

A practice of bringing your center of mass close to the floor and far away again without the use of external objects seems to be a practice for longevity and vitality.

This videos is just one interpretation of how such a practice can look like.

Diving into the Floor Sequences, try out!

 

I created these sequences a while ago just for personal research, stumbled upon them again today and thought why not share with you. I think they are nice and they feel soothing.

If you want to imitate, look closely, where to place the hands, in which direction to spin etc.

Feel free to repost, tag me and I will happily create a story with all of your interpretations.

About Falling and Failing

Why do we fall? How do we fall? Can we practice falling? How are falling and failing connected? Since we know through science that failing is key to learning, is falling key to motor learning as well? We all would agree that some falls you better would want not to happen, same with big fails, but what is there to be learned from falling and failing?

An open invitation to research falling and failing and embracing the missteps, seeing beyond them and how we can transform through them.

Rolling – Awareness & Conditioning (Acrobatics, Martial Arts, Dance, Floor Practice)

 

After my latest post on IG about rolling acrobatics – which was received very well – I thought about creating an educational video about how you can increase rolling awareness and condition your body, mostly the torso for different kind of rolls.

 

The video is divided into three sections: Preparation (Spinal Flexion), Mapping the Back (Increasing Awareness in Spine while in contact with Floor) and Dynamic Application.

 

The practice of rolling can be of great use in disciplines where falling is likely to happen like in Parkour, Skateboarding, Martial Arts or Acrobatics as a risk management tool. I also taught elderly people to roll before, a fantastic way of staying young while aging.

 

If you are mostly looking for ways of moving that enrich physical health and wellness, rolling can be a great way to massage your body, mobilize it and strengthen certain chains. I personally like to practice rolls for autotelic reasons – for the pure joy of it. There is a sense of throwing yourself into the unknown which feels like letting go. The ability to then catch the fall and direct it into something with new potential feels like facing a challenge in life and using the overcoming of this challenge to create something new.

About Falling

 

Very interested in the topic of falling right now.

The technical side, the mental side, the intuitive side, the conceptual side, the applicable side.

More on this in the near future.

 

For now: falling is an excellent skill to practice. Very diverse and exciting.

Rolling

 

So much to say about this art. Simmered down: beautiful and freeing.

Rolling has been in my live since forever, not in the form of this videos content but as an act of breakfalling and communicating with the floor.

 

As you maybe know, my greatest movement teacher so far was skateboarding. I started when I was probably 10 years old and devoted many years solely to this art. Since you’re moving on and with a very unstable object, jumping on and off things you will fall down. Well, since experience shows that just slamming on hard concrete is not so much fun, you adapt a personal and specific way of falling. When the speed is right and when practiced for a while one of the falling maneuvers is rolling over your shoulder – in acro terms a backward shoulder roll.

This move saved my body plenty of times.

 

Until Tom Weksler showed me and the participants at a workshops in 2016 some acrobatic rolls I didn’t practice specific rolling. Over the last years and especially through Toms work I got more and more interested in this art.

Right now, it’s one of the main interests of my practice (not just rolling but falling in general).

 

After working with Tom for some weeks solely on the basics of rolling I yesterday played with some variations and was surprised by a new quality I found within my rolls. On top of that practicing in an Aikido Dojo felt just right, since these folks practice Ukemi a lot and – in my limited understanding of Aikido – are very good at it.

Now, back to refinement and working again on the basics.

 

If you are interested in the Art of rolling, some resources for you:

 

The Art of falling Online Course by @parkouredu

Little big waves – rolling by Tom Weksler on YouTube

Ukemi in Aikido and Systema

 

Thanks for your time and happy rolling. You know how it goes: They see me rolin‘..

The unavoidable.

The necessary.
The not so sexy.
The other side.
The companion.
The stuff that you don’t see so much.
The stuff that you need to get used to.
The stuff that is not fun to be fun.

Embrace the struggle like a good friend!

Having the possibility to explore and fail Pt 1

 

In my current personal practice there is no need or pressure to perform, compete or fulfill certain guidelines (I mean there is gravity, potential for injury and stuff like that that I need to respect). Because of that I have a lot of freedom to express myself in as many different ways and forms as I want to.

In this Demonstration I played with the idea of not having bones, just skin and musculature. The outcome is a very special quality that is very interesting and intriguing. At other times I played with different qualities/ways of doing which led into nothing. No inspiration, didn’t work! And that is great. Being able to experiment and not having to fear failure is very freeing.

I think practicing exploring over and over leads to more curiosity for a given subject. And curiosity is what I thrive on. Not only in my physical practice but in many aspects of live I feel this very deep curiosity and interest to see what lies beyond my current understanding/knowledge/experience.

Having the possibility to explore and fail Pt 2

 

In my last post I described how much freedom I get by experimenting through my movement practice without needing to fear failure.

Very important to add now is that this concept can be applied to many disciplines BUT depending on WHERE you want to go or WHAT you want to achieve, this open exploration may be used more or less.

If there are certain rules that you have to follow, using an open exploration like this can add value by opening new ways of looking at things BUT can also very much hinder your progress.

You can see in this video that many if not all of the tricks/moves I tried where quite sloppy and that’s fine, since this was NOT about going for technical quality. Here I tried to play with the idea of going for something, noticing what I was doing and last second trying to go for something else. Very interesting and quite hard.

Diving into the floor – real life version.

 

A big part of my latest research lies in understanding learning processes. When has somebody learned something? How many ways are there to get from A>B? What’s the difference if you learn something one way versus the other?

 

Automatism

If you practice something long enough, it will become part of you. You don’t have to think about speaking, you just speak. You don’t have to think about running, you just run. You don’t have to think about brushing your teeth, you just do. Imagine if you would have to think about every action on its own! You couldn’t do anything.

Now, if you reached the point that you don’t have to think about a skill anymore – I would say you have learned it. Anything else on top is just refinement.

 

Some questions for you critical thinkers:

1. If you can use a skill in an extreme situation, is it there all the times?

2. At which point would you progress with any given skill? Before the point of learning? After? Why?

3. What would be characteristics on a good learning method if you want to be able to perform the skill without thinking while doing?

Well, if your practice involves playing with risks – falling is a certainty.

 

Falling is not only the act of loosing balance and tumbling over but also a very nice skill in itself.

I’ve practiced this skill (directly and indirectly) in various disciplines so far. In skateboarding I did endless repetitions of falling – out of necessity. Not a single session in that I didn’t fall at least once.
Now in acrobatics I fall also very often, throwing yourself in weird places is often accompanied by that..
In Olympic weightlifting I also experienced some falling (losing balance with the bar overhead can be scary..), same as in bouldering, handstands and parkour.

 

Very interestingly: falling in all of these disciplines has different qualities and is basically a different skill. Falling in skateboarding is different than falling in acrobatics (the speed while skateboarding, etc) and needs different falling mechanics.

 

Important question now: can you practice falling or do you only really learn how to fall by actually .. falling?

Throughout the last years I experimented quite a bit here – on my own and with students (thanks for your trust, hehe). While I believe that actually falling and learning how to bail out intuitively and by experience is necessary – there are ways to practice falling!

 

I think of recording a full video on that – here some falling key points in the meanwhile:

– falling and diminishing the momentum by rolling (rolling techniques in all directions)

– falling and diminishing the momentum by stumbling/galloping away (using hands and feet to catch yourself and „walk it out“)

– falling and spreading the impact on soft parts (muscle) while using the largest surface area possible (practice shock absorbing and taking impact)

 

„They noticed that falling becomes floating when you stop clinging to things“ – Käptn Peng

Adapting my practice

 

Since my left wrist is still injured and I am unable to load it, I had to change my practice a bit. Usually my left arm is my dominant arm for Supports (Macacos, Cartwheels, Handstands, etc) so I now have some time to put some practice into my right arm.
Also, when working a bit more dynamically with a degree of chaos and a risk of falling (this feeling I enjoy very much) I have to very quickly react and find ways to catch myself without loading the injured wrist, very interesting.

All in all, despite using my hands is a major part of my practice, I can almost move completely freely.

Because of my skateboarding background (where falling and injuries are not a possibility but a certainty) I am used to adapting my practice in times when I am injured. It’s always interesting and a challenge to keep the spirits high and continue regardless. ”An obstacle is often a stepping stone.“

Evolution of Thoughts on Improvisation

The Topic of Improvisation is wildly interesting to me. Since starting to focus on the practice of Improvisation within my Acrobatics/Dance practice in 2019 my thoughts went through a refinement process. In this post I share some written reflections on this topic coupled with some videos of me improvising. For a more recent analysis of what Improv can be, please see my more recent posts.

Februar 2019

 

Improvisation
What is real impro?

My theory: when you learn certain movement patterns, they won’t be automated at first. After many hours of practice you will be able to access these patterns without thinking. These patterns could be very isolated moves, like lifting a arm or even whole sequences like Cartwheel->Roll->Macaco. You do not have to think about what you’re doing, you just do.

Now, when you think about impro, the first thing you would normally do is relying on the things you have already done so often that they became automated.
What’s the difference between impro and sequencing then?

Sequencing is fixed. Go from here to there to there.
Impro on the other hand is allowing yourself to play with patterns without a fixed structure. You fall in one pattern (automated), find a way out of that (chaos) until you fall back in old habits (automated), so on and so forth. The better you are at improvising the faster you can switch between different patterns, the smoother the transitions will be and the freer you can play.

March 2019

 

Weird and uncomfortable. This is relevant to this topic of Improvisation, since it might first feel very weird and silly to improvise freely.

We are afraid to be weird, we’re super uncomfortable doing stuff that’s not normal. In the fitness world, people are afraid to move in certain positions because it looks weird. That’s funny.
And I’m not any different: performing in front of a bunch of high level movers – feels uncomfortable. Trying new dance moves that involve noodling around my arms – feels very weird.
But you know what? Do it nevertheless. Most of the time it is you and not the others who is feeling weird and uncomfortable. Most of the time you project in other people’s minds that what you are doing must look weird. Everybody does it. Just allow your mind to be quiet and DO.

Dance in front of people, let your weirdness come out! Practice being weird and authentic and the amount of fucks you give about how others must/should perceive you will shrink day by day.

April 2019

 

Surprise yourself

Thanks to @tomweksler and @sarahlenabrieger I got introduced to the concept of surprising yourself.
What is meant by that?
(My understanding right now at least)

When working without any external/chaotic factors (like a partner or a new situation) you tend to get stuck in your habits and patterns.
Imagine somebody tells you to improvise a little dance on the spot. Most likely you rely on patterns that’s you already know – maybe you‘ll combine something that you haven’t combined before but I think you won’t do anything to crazy in this moment.

I understand „surprising yourself“ as letting go of thoughts on how something should feel or look like. Letting go of if what you do/say/think is perceived as weird or how you could be seen by other people when you just do. In these moments when you just BE or DO you can actually surprise yourself (physically as I tried in this dance or in general life). In this dance I used some ideas I’ve picked up from Tom and Sarah-Lena like throwing (myself or something else), rapid change of direction or going somewhere where my intuition would not lead me.

Very interesting subject, so much more to learn here for me. Embracing the struggle.

June 2019

 

Randomly playing and improvising with Rolls and Supports (Macaco-Variations). Been talking and reflecting a lot about improvisation the last months.
When teaching, I notice that most people don’t feel comfortable improvising. I wonder why. Lack of confidence? Simply not used to improvise because of the commonly used „tutorial-like“ way of teaching and learning where it’s more about the end product and less about the learning process?

I continue to research this topic since I find great value here.
Lets see where this study goes.

What is it?
How can you approach it?
Is it a useful skill?
Should it be practiced more?
In which circumstances is Improvisation needed and the only option?

September 2019

 

I once read, that improvisation is the practical application of creativity. I liked that. Following words are inspired by some books I’ve read over the last weeks by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (always a pain in the ass to write this name..) — Flow & Creativity.

Creativity: if you want to act creatively you first have to understand and internalize the symbolic system of the field you want to act in. If you want to act creatively with mathematics you first have to learn the rules of the field. On top of that it makes sense to also draw inspiration from other, similar fields to see and find connections. Only then you can break the rules in a meaningful way. Of course fields vary quite a bit and in some field you need much more time and use much more logic to find new, creative ways of doing. Now, while you definitely need to have knowledge over the field, it doesn’t mean that you have to master the respective field. You can definitely start to act creatively after just a bit of practice — much more limited of course, but still.

What does this imply for our movement context?

In order to improvise (practically act out creativity), you first need to have basic patterns down (meaning automated and integrated that you don’t need to think about them while doing) that you can use in an improv context. While improvising with three patterns can be fun and is definitely possible, it’s still a bit limited. Now if you know one or two variations (for example different entries or exits) of each move you would have a bit more to play with. And if you are skilled enough to also improvise not only with the patterns themselves but also with the qualities of the moves (for example by imagination) you would have even more options.

Recap: learn first, put in the work and drill. Start improvising bit by bit and keep refining your vocabulary. Find more and more detail in your moves and keep up the interest to search for connections.

December 2019

 

ANIMALIMPULSE

I’ve been improvising a lot with abstract ideas the last couple of months. The study of that matter is very interesting/challenging and reminds me a lot of how I used to play when I was young.

Improvising with certain images in mind can produce very interesting qualities which are hardly achievable by just focusing on technique.
How can this be relevant for your own practice you might ask? I think being able to produce vivid images in your mind which are not „real“ is a skill that can support creative thinking very well. I have also found during my practice, that imagination can lead to very interesting outcomes, outcomes you might not expect.
In this particular Video I played with some ideas that @tomweksler introduced to me. One of them being „The Animal Within“ the other one „Following Impulses“.
See by yourself how you would interpret them!

February 2020

 

Quick sketch from yesterdays dance.
Make sure to watch my whole „El Jardin“ video that I posted yesterday.

What I like so much about an improv session is the fact that every session is truly unique, every dance special in its own way and after you finished it’s done! You are not really working towards an end product or something that you can hold in your hands afterwards. You just put something on the canvas but the canvas is gone afterwards. You can’t replicate an improv session and by the definition it wouldn’t be improv if you tried.
Maybe some moves, transitions, patterns or insight will be remembered but the whole thing is just temporary. Improvise, done, next.
Everytime you improvise you get a chance to create something new, and then let it go again. I like improv.

February 2020

 

The last months I have read through some books from Moshe Feldenkrais and F.M. Alexander.

Amongst other very interesting ideas, a main outcome for me was this: the way you habitually react to any stimulus will dictate the quality of your life. If you are habitually reacting to stimuli in a harmful way over and over again without being aware of this reaction, things can go down the spiral.

Throughout my life I caught myself many times habitually reacting to situations like I would as back in my childhood. Some reactions where so engraved in my cortex that I just went back years of development when certain stimuli where strong enough. Some of those reactions I managed to stop taking over by being fully aware when they would arise and continuous practice of such, others are still taking over from time to time.

This phenomenon of habitual reactions can be found in any part of your life: reactions to when you get hurt (both emotionally and physically), reactions to fear, anger, etc.

One very interesting one that I just discovered recently: when meeting strangers on the street I would look them in they eyes to greet and immediately after I would look down and continue my way. Such a German/European thing I thought. Since then I try to keep the eyecontact a bit longer without looking down afterwards. May I tell you, this is hard! Even when saying to myself „keep your gaze up“ I would still catch myself falling back into this pattern. Interesting!

When thinking about this a question arises: since we are slaves to our habits, how can we be more aware of our reactions and how can we learn to modify those reactions so we can benefit fully from them?

In this Video: improvising but falling back over and over again into habitual movement patterns. Is that true improv then?