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.

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.“

Setting Intentions – Same Move, Different Outcome

Same Move – Different Intention (Changing the effects of an exercise by changing the HOW and WHY)

 

Basic assumption: If you do anything with a certain intention, the results you will get, will be according to that given intention.

If someone else will do EXACTLY the same thing with a different intention, the outcome and insights gained will vary. This is an assumption that I noticed in my own practice and in my work as a teacher/trainer.

 

Main points of this video:

 

• How changing the way you perform a move changes the effects it has on you

• How changing the intention while doing a move can result in increased creativity and joy while practicing

• Why judgement of other people WITHOUT knowing their intention will lead often to confusion

 

I think being aware of WHY and HOW you are doing a given move/exercise is crucial to produce a certain outcome. Squat is not squat for example. If you have been doing mainly Squats as a lower body exercise, introducing this squat into a Floor/Acrobatics Practice will probably lead to a distorted view on the practice.

A new quality/intention is needed here. Practicing changing intentions is a skill that can enhance understanding, create a more open, yet critic mindset which is very important if you are involved in movement culture, where a lot of material is being presented and a lot of different styles/approaches meet.

Processes

One of my interests for the last couple of years has been the topic of learning and how we can understand learning in order to learn smarter. One of the main “laboratories” to look at learning is looking at a process of learning something. Either a micro process (a few minutes, or a practice session) or a macro process (weeks, months, years). In this post I share some processes of mine and some written reflections.

A Process 🌊🌀🌱

 

Here are some clips from a week long process of @wbrown7 and me with the goal to create a technically hard (precision-demanding, tricky transitions) and rather long sequence. The sequence should integrate some ideas which we have been working on in the warm ups: head integration, spiraling, threading, suspension to name a few.

 

We worked and practiced every day and in the end found something challenging yet possible.
When swiping through the post keep in mind that you are seeing the process from start to finish (rough sketching and trying to finished sequence). Also keep in mind that most of the tries where actually fails (only some shown) and that the bulk of creating such a sequence consists of trying to remember parts, working on isolated transitions, the feeling that something is lacking, etc..

 

In the end we were happy but also see the potential for more refinements and further work on details. We are still hungry.

Swipe till the end to see how my cat/falling training pays off. 😎

Learning the Touch Down Raiz

 

Sharing today some parts of my learning process from the Touch Down Raiz (which is basically a Raiz plus you Land first on a hand and then on your legs).

This move is very appealing to me, done right it looks easy and effortless and can be used to gain massive momentum for something else afterwards. If you are a beginner, learning bridge rotations, first steps towards a gumbi and revercao would make sense to walk first steps on the TD Raiz path.

 

Anyways. Some words about the learning process. To be honest what was hindering me from performing this move was not something technical (at least not to the level that I can perform it in a low grade technical way) but the weird and scary feeling of jumping blindly in this upside down move.

After warming up with similar moves (Raiz, Sailor Moon variant) I started to develop a feeling of security and more and more went for it. When I felt I was going in weird places I would come back to the listed regressions and start over.

What also helped me was the use of visualization: building a mental image in my head and repeatedly trying to act out this image.

 

Now comes a very important part: after you acted out this image you need a feedback in order to see if you actually did what you wanted OR you fell back in your habitual patterns. Feldenkrais and F.M. Alexander both found in their studies that only assessing the outcome through your only feeling is misleading and „untrustworthy“. This is mostly because what feels right is your habitual way of doing something. Therefore it makes sense to use a different source of feedback.

 

Since we all have mobile phones with a camera, why not use this tool? Immediately after performing something, check in the video if your feeling while performing is correct or if you did something different. This way you can adapt a more trustworthy feeling and use this later on.

 

Actually my good friend @wbrown7 posted something similar about his learning process of an One Armed Handstand the other day, definitely check this out.

 

Also, the topic of motor learning can be applied to any given physical skill. Therefore try to see how you can apply this information in your own context.

The Process

 

1 Minute Video showing the Process of learning a trick in about 20 minutes.

Well, actually just parts of it.

Insights into how I build layers and complexity.

Persistance 1

 

Watch me learn. How do I learn? What do I do to not get frustrated while learning? What tips do I have for you?

 

In this mini videoseries (I ended up only creating two parts) I wanted to give insights into a learning process of learning rather complex moves. In addition to the visual I also added some spoken reflections to these videos where I captured what was going on inside of my head. The outcome is a rather fascinating little video.

Persistance 2

Going for the new.

Some things I share here from my practice are quite raw, unrefined and projects that are definitely not finished. I think giving you insights into my process is more authentic than showing only my refined skills, etc.

Work in progress, this is a cool one.

Having the process in mind

 

“I want to be that agile too!” “I want to be able to do a handstand too!”

 

A great statement in itself! Being mobile is fun and a prerequisite for many movements. Handstands eh sure – cool thing!
But what I’m missing here is the way to get there. “I want to be, I want to have, I want to be able…”. Often you only see the end result. The way there – years of practice and constantly making mistakes, learning from them and trying again and again – is often forgotten. So you really want to be able to do a handstand? Then you have to LEARN it first. Learning, however, is not always fun. You will often make mistakes (which are important by the way – they are a necessity!) and often not make any progress for a while. There is nothing you can do about it, there is no magic pill to learn handstands in 10 days, no magic cure to wake up the day after tomorrow with your desired mobility. Learning processes take time.

 

Of course, you have the option to decide which approach you want to take: a strict training plan, watching YouTube videos on your own, learning from others who have achieved similar things or getting help from experienced trainers.

 

For me, I have found that a playful approach mixed with my own experience and scientifically proven knowledge gets the best results. Training plans definitely need to be individual and flexible. Too much can happen to plan weeks or even months in advance. Too strict an approach leads in most cases sooner or later to demotivation and the training is no longer fun. For me, having fun while exercising is one of the top factors that determines long-term results!

Interest & Curiosity as a basis for learning

The assumption: if you are truly interested in a specific field or topic, you will find learning much more enjoyable, because the content really wants to be discovered by itself. In this post I share reflections on curiosity and how following it can lead to something beautiful.

The discovery of something new

 

What is is that children and scientists have in common? What is one of the first state of mind that needs to be there in order to generate ideas?

Curiosity and the excitement to discover the world.

I think one of the biggest driving factors in any practice is the ability to build interest in that specific domain.

Want to get involved in bodybuilding? Develop a deep interest and study anatomy, training methods, figures in this field etc.. Once there is a base of interest and curiosity you will step by step unravel the domain and find out new things. You will see connections and pathways that were not there before. You will combine patterns or experiences to create something new. I personally think, that once you reached the stage, things will start flowing.

Important note: there is a huge difference in mindset when exploring something new. On the one hand there is „nothing new under the sun“ – everything has already been said or done. Looking from this perspective can lead to a pessimistic mindset. On the other side, I think it’s more important to discover things that are new to YOURSELF. It often does not matter at all for humanity if you found a new way to cook scrambled eggs – since most certainly it has been done before.
But it DOES matter for your personal learning process.

Embrace curiosity and enjoy exploring (note to myself). Since I’m researching creativity, learning processes and curiosity right now I will probably write a bit more about that.

Surroundings and how they influence us

 

Inspired by these surroundings I had a little dance that I want to share today.

I am really sensitive to my surroundings. When I don’t like the vibe of the environment I can’t express my creativity to the fullest. That’s why I like working on my apartment so it’s suits my character.
I do see value in also changing my perception in not so pleasing environments though.

Recently I tend to visit a regular gym (mostly for sauna reasons) and I find it very interesting that I feel very uncomfortable in there. It’s probably not only the looks but also the mindset that is being delivered there.

Some years back it didn’t really affect me but nowadays I feel like I need open spaces, natural lights and room to breath.

This episode: moves that make you feel good and vivid.

 

I’ve been practicing this move on and off for three years now. Hard one to wrap your head around (or better wrap your body around your head in this case).
This time I will practice it till I get it (for now, refinement will come every once in a while of course). What makes this one so hard for me?

1. In an optimal world you would constantly gaze at the floor, so your body will basically move around the head. This head tilting and backward looking maneuver feels just sketchy and awkward for me. It’s getting better but still not satisfied with it. More practice will come!

2. Ideally you would jump with your body almost over your head which implies that you need to keep the torso and the head quite low to the floor. Instead I often lift my torso and my head which makes jumping over them very unlikely. Again, just scary and awkward.

I really like the way this one looks, since I first saw it it sparked something inside of me and still I find this one just utterly beautiful. Just for you to get an idea of how this one can look like when it’s done properly I added some videos of some people doing this one. First one by @tomweksler second by @joyisabellabrown and third one by @alexkerwood – thanks for the inspiration!

Yet a new detail found.

 

How deep do you want to go in your practice/art/thing?

This one (called ‘Raiz‘) I want to understand fully and dive deep. Already practicing for a while (years, on and off) and will for another long while.

And here comes my take home message: if something catches your eyes, not only on the first sight but over and over again – maybe you can’t really explain why – go there and explore, dive deep and nurture your interest in that topic.
In the Book “The Talent Code“ the author describes some steps towards real talent (spoiler alert: which is not too much about inborn traits but long and dedicated practice). The first one he describes is called ‘ignition‘, the potent moment when something strucks you and often won’t let you go for a long time. Albert Einstein describes a moment when his father giftet him a compass: “I can still remember – or at least I believe I can remember—that this experience made a deep and lasting impression on me. Something deeply hidden had to be behind things.” Good one to reflect on: did you had one/more ignition moments? How did they influence your current path?

Ignited by a cool move I keep on practicing.

The ‘Raiz‘ somehow triggers something inside of me .. it just feels and looks absolutely great.

 

When I reflect on my past practices there were always certain moves/tricks/patterns that sparked the same feeling. In skateboarding it was and is the Smith Grind, in Olympic weightlifting the Snatch (Google them if you do not know).

I wonder what it is in these moves that produces such an intense reaction within me. Are there commonalities between these skills? Certain qualities that all of them possess?

When thinking about it, maybe it is the balancing quality of these skills? These skills not only need a certain level of strength or flexibility, they involve a balance of different traits and abilities.
Maybe it’s also something completely different – who knows? Any clues?

Either way, I love watching these moves, I love performing them and I love investing a lot of time practicing them, nerding out on them and refining them.

Traces

 

After dancing for a bit on a beach in Portugal I noticed the traces i was leaving behind. Looking at them reminded me of what @tomweksler put into words once as part of a collaboration with an artist who captured Toms movement and traces of his dance: when the Movement is gone, what will stay is only in the memory/imagination of the observer.

In this case the sand provided something more: real, visual traces of my dance. Well, actually just marks of body parts that actually touched the sand.
What I found very interesting and nice: you can clearly see the circular swipes of my hands/feet/other on the floor.
Introducing circularity in my dance allows for continuous up and down movement and since Tom Introduced me to this years ago I integrated it a lot in my dance. I am also very much inspired by @lucia.toker who swirls and spirals beautifully.

Anyways, why sharing this? I just found it very interesting and that’s what I do here.
How could have the dance looked like?

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?