The Power of How: A journal about The Alexander Technique and Movement

THINGS I LOVE TO DO #5: THE WHOLEHEARTED RIGOROUS HEDONISM OF DAILY MOVEMENT PRACTICE

Iʻve come up with the phrase RIGOROUS HEDONISM to name my ongoing daily movement practice, which is rooted in the Alexander Technique. My daily practice consists of two things:

1. NON-DOING: not doing things that feel crappy or wrong. Just taking some time to do nothing until it is clear what might feel good.

2. DOING: movements that feel good to me today. This could mean alot of different things depending on the day! But I always start with lying on the floor and letting my body open.

My first experience of the Technique was in a dance class. My response to the feelings my body had in this class was: “How could dancing possibly be this easy?” Twenty years later, I know that it takes daily discipline to find that ease, and to stay connected to it through thick and thin. Thatʻs because if I donʻt practice daily, the force of habit will derail me without me even knowing it. Daily, I practice becoming aware of movement patterns and tensions that hold me back from pleasure, happiness, ease – and giving them up, letting them go. And then I have to take that energy that I have freed and USE IT FOR SOMETHING. That takes courage, to ask, “what feels right, what does my work need, how can I make that happen” on a daily basis.

I have heros and role models that I look to when the going gets tough, and due to my addiction to learning, I recently had the pleasure of being with an amazing artist whose work has inspired me for 30 years: Simone Forti

Simone is a brilliant life long improviser, dance/sculpture maker, and now writer. In the class I took from her she had this to say about fear – she said it just before we were about to get up in front of the class and perform small improvised duets: “If you get scared, donʻt worry about it. Itʻs normal….I tell myself, well, SOME good will come out of this no matter what so Iʻm just gonna do it. This helps me find the courage.”

Simone also had this to say about her experiences with some of Modern Danceʻs greats, Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham, in a recent interview:

“Well, you know, I took the classes, I wasnʻt interested. I didnʻt want to hold my stomach in. And I saw what Cunningham was doing and it was OK, but……Cunningham was certainly not in my path, I mean, not only was I not interested but, I couldnʻt do it! (Laughs)”

Simone went on to do her own work, which has been performed everywhere from lofts to museums to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where I once saw her get a standing ovation.

Here are some pictures of Simoneʻs work:

News Animations 2012:

Photo © Carol Petersen.

Huddle 1961:

Improvisation:

Photo Credit: Isabelle Meister

It takes discipline to do what feels right and good, and to say no to what does NOT feel right, on a daily basis. But it feels good to do our best, to really go for it, and to do what we do wholeheartedly, with total commitment, stretching our capacity for pleasure and abandon, and just plain hard work. Wholehearted action is really only possible if itʻs something that you really want, and that something FEELS RIGHT AND WHOLE in some way. The only way I know if something is “right” is through my body, through the sensations and feelings I have.

Have you said a difficult, courageous NO or YES to something recently? Let me know!

 

November 27th, 2012 • 4 Comments

4 Responses to “THINGS I LOVE TO DO #5: THE WHOLEHEARTED RIGOROUS HEDONISM OF DAILY MOVEMENT PRACTICE”

  1. Where did you take that workshop with Simone Forti?! I wish I would have gone.

    Comment by Ian on December 1, 2012



  2. It was through movement research – she also performed at Roulette and Danspace but I missed that – it was all mysteriously low key. I try to see her work any chance I can get.

    Comment by Clare Maxwell on December 1, 2012



  3. this is a great inspiration! In particular I like that there are two things – things that you do and the things that you non-do. And our dance/movement forbears are such a rich source of inspiration. This month – Yvonne Meier at New York Live Arts!

    Comment by Ron Lavine on December 5, 2012



  4. Thanks Ron! For the heads up too, I didnʻt know that…

    Comment by Clare Maxwell on December 6, 2012



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