Expression

Snippet Blog #4 - It Can Do A Backflip, but Can It Hold Down a Desk Job?

I am excited to share this fun article written by one of my classmates in my first Module at the Laban Institute of Movement Studies. Amy is a unique woman, combining her love of dance and robotics to bring a unique perspective to both!

I love how, in this article, she brings to light the complexity of what we think of as the simplest of our everyday human movements - from unsticking a label from itself to choosing how to respond to an inappropriate joke!

She asserts what I too know to be true: you, yes, even you who do a desk job and believe you avoid any sort of exercise or physical activity can make claim to the quite incredible and complex things that you do EVERY day with your body. You are often doing intricate amazing things that you may not yet understand or, often, even value.

I especially love the line "this requires leveraging your full mechanical complexity to indicate shades of approval and disapproval simultaneously." Yes, folks, the way you express yourself is also movement.

Living one’s life as a moving, functional, expressive being requires a set of skills that, for the most part, we developed through responding to biology, reacting to the environment and practicing patterns and conditioning in our every day interactions! And while, like robots, we can simply follow our programming without question, as humans we have the capability of exploring the possibilities beyond what we have learned in the past. As humans, we have the capacity to develop consciously an extensive range of versatile competencies that we can choose to explore, refine and challenge as we live our daily lives fully. Unlike the robot programmed for a specific task, we (and our lives) are complex . You could say that we are “programmed” for growth and change!

We get to choose. Being human means we can be like the robot, adept at functional, repetitive, patterned movement that requires a narrow set of rules and conditions. Or we can be fully complexly human, taking risks, making conscious our habits, exploring the places where we are no longer or not yet competent, playing with options and possibilities! As humans, we have the capacity to continually deepen and expand our expressiveness, our variability, our resilience! Unlike the robot, we always have the option to be curious and to question our “programming”…and sometimes this can mean, simply, taking the time to be curious and to notice what is involved as you pick up a paperclip or negotiate an uncomfortable moment in a conversation.

What Do You Do and What Can I Expect?

The title of this blog is a question I have heard in various forms over the last year.  "What is it you do?"  and "What can I expect if I come to one of your events?"  It is not uncommon for me to hear from folks that they find my work interesting and intriguing, but are reluctant to take part because they aren't sure what will be expected of them.   I understand this hesitancy to show up for something that seems new and, possibly, foreign.  I also know well that those who have overcome this fear and joined me in my various workshops have reported to me that they have had valuable and unique experiences that have then rippled through many aspects of their lives.   

SO, if you are one of these folks, intrigued by me and my work, but a bit hesitant to join in any of the many events I offer, please know that I have created this blog and the list of guidelines shared at the end especially for you.

WHY IS WHAT I DO CONFUSING?

My theory is that what I do is confusing because I do NOT offer a recognizable structured movement modality.  Movement opportunities offered in our culture, especially in the Mid-West, tend to be more structured and formalized like Swing Dance, Yoga, Belly Dance or Tai Chi or they involve some sort of sport or exercise regimen.  People seem to understand movement classes as a way to learn a specific movement modality for a defined purpose. For me participating in these practices is similar to putting together the contents of a Lego kit that was designed by someone else and has all the necessary parts to build a specific thing like a rocket ship or a barn.  In this sort of movement experience we are invited to learn the pieces and how to put them together in a fashion to get the end result specified by the modality or the teacher. This can be very rewarding.  Each of these movement forms I listed are all great opportunities to move!  I enjoy doing all of them. I know many wonderful people who practice and teach these forms.  They can be fun and valuable exercise, wonderful to watch and to be a part of.  All of this is true, however, this is not the kind of movement opportunity that I offer.

WHAT IT IS I DO

My education and the underpinning of all I offer is based on Laban Movement Analysis (LMA). LMA is a framework of movement, rather than a specific movement modality.  With the tools of LMA I can observe, analyse and explain any movement.  Because of my intensive training with instructors who are highly trained professional dancers, performance and martial artists as well as yoga and pilates instructors, I have the skill to create and teach structured movement with specific consistent actions, but this is not the way I generally choose to share my extensive training.  As Embodiment, I create and facilitate opportunities for you to explore yourself as a mover.   Because in my workshops the movement is about you, your choices, your desires, your attitudes, your environment, your abilities and your limits, it makes space for the experience to be uniquely rich, healing and exciting as well as unpredictable and sometimes uncomfortable.  My workshops are intended to support you as you LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF IN MOVEMENT, not teach you any specific actions or set of actions.  To continue the Lego metaphor from above, the movement events I offer are more like showing up to an event to discover Lego pieces from hundreds of different kits in piles all around the room.  Imagine being invited and supported to create something from all this possibility!  As you select and build and try things out, imagine being led to notice the themes or possibilities within the piles, and then invited to notice and be curious about the patterns of your choices within all of this!  Imagine then being invited to notice your experience of the act of making choices, noticing patterns and of creating something new with the information you have received from me, from the other participants and from yourself within the experience!  Imagine what you might discover!  This is a more apt metaphor for what I offer as Embodiment LLC.  My workshops are opportunities for you to practice in a safe, supported environment different ways of moving and being in your life! 

To help understand the diversity of the possible experiences you can have if you choose to work with me, let me give you a brief overview of some of the movement forms that I have created and currently offer: 

  •  Express Yourself and Wild Women Wednesdays are more concept-driven events in which a criteria, intention or direction is given as a guideline.  This intention determines how we will explore and what we will create together.  As the names indicate these forms are more about exploring your personal creativity and expressivity.
  • Mindful Move Groove and Movement Fundamentals invite you to more closely examine and explore your physical movement choices - what are the parts you tend to use, how do they fit together, where do they go in space and how can you most efficiently move in the way you desire.  In these forms I offer a blend of education, exploratory movement and choreographed movement sequences.
  • Tranceformotion and Meditation for Every Body offers opportunities to explore Spirit and Embodiment using different healing traditions, such as mindfulness and trance work.
  • In some of the movement forms I have created and offer we start with a more formalized structure, like Yoga, meditation, drumming or Tarot, and then together we take the structure apart piece-by-piece to learn more about the whole.   
  • In the individual sessions I offer, we can explore any and all of these routes, depending on your needs and interests.

I hope that this helps to answer the question of what exactly it is that I do and what you might expect if you show up to one of my offerings.

Please know that I am also willing to take time to meet with you to talk about what I offer and what might be valuable to you personally; however, know that what I offer is experiential, so words will only give you a limited view into the experience!  For you to understand what it is we do in an Embodiment event will require you to join in, (and also be aware that your unique presence will, in turn, influence the experience of the event for all involved!)

GUIDELINES FOR TAKING PART IN AN EMBODIMENT EVENT

If you are still feeling curious but hesitant, I have shared a list below of guidelines established by me and some of my regular participants.  I regularly update these guidelines because I believe that curiosity and learning thrive best when we know the boundaries and social "rules" of our environment and those can only be determined by the folks involved.  Below is the most current list of what is asked of those who take part in any of the various Embodiment events:

  • Suggestions offered or prompted by the facilitator or other participants should be viewed as invitations intended to INSPIRE and SUPPORT you in deepening the process of you of being you, rather than as demands or commands.
  • Be curious.  Ask questions - of the facilitator, of yourself, of others.
  • Allow yourself to experience your sensations for the sake of the sensations.  Be with them. Move with them. Try to not make a story about them. Be with them.  Move with them.
  • Remember that PERFORMING is NOT being AUTHENTICALLY you.  Be curious and share with yourself and with each other, but if what you are doing begins to feel like performing, the suggestion is to stop, sit down, make it smaller, take a breath, decrease the intensity, find gravity or take whatever action you need to shift back into yourself.  The act of not knowing what to do next can be powerful.
  • Remind yourself that the act of Breathing IS Movement!  Sometimes being fully present with our breath is the most powerful action we can take.
  • Notice if you have a persistent desire to express yourself through verbal communication and invite yourself to resist it, to check in with your experience of your sensations and allow the desire to express connect into and out of you without words.  This might be movement.  This might be sound.  This might be stillness and silence.
  • If you start to experience exhaustion, frustration or demoralizing thoughts, change something.  Change your position. Move yourself into a different level or place in space. Find a new body shape. Adjust the size and/or intensity of your action.  Stop. Breathe. Find your support. Allow yourself time to recuperate.
  • If your experience of being in the present moment has become difficult, uncomfortable, fatiguing, irritating, or overwhelming and you are unable to transition or transform the experience on your own, communicate your need for support to the facilitator or to another a trusted person in the room.
  • Don’t:
    • Push through it just to accomplish it.
    • Ignore sensations and internal information.
    • Fake it until you make it.  
    • Apologize for having your experience or being you.
  • DO Notice.  Notice. Notice:
    • your relationship to your Breath
    • your places of support
    • what is happening withIN you
    • what is happening OUTSIDE that you can see, hear, smell, taste or feel on your skin
    • what is happening INSIDE of your mind that is not actually happening in the present moment
    • your curiosity.  your joy. your reluctance.  your desire
    • your patterns - of thought, of response and of action
  • Give yourself permission to be curious, to take a risk, to be safe, to inquire, to try new things, to say no.

FINAL WORDS

Please join me.  I am passionate about this work because movement IS life.  My own experience with LMA has given me so many tools to be more present, to experience and move with my life, in dance and in every day activities, with the glory and the challenges.  I look forward to sharing this framework with you in whatever ways interest you and in supporting you as you move more fully in the ways you desire to move in your life!

Function/Expression in Laban Movement Analysis (LMA)

Good evening, community -

here is a bit for you about the movement theme of Function/Expression, which is part of your every day movement, whether you know it or not!

Functional movement relates to the mechanics of movement:  what body part(s) move in what action.  An example of a basic functional movement would be - rotate your head from the left to the right.  

Expressive Movement is about what body part is moving in what action, and also how and why you are moving.   Expression is the “feel," the zest, the juice, the meaning within the movement!

By consciously exploring your relationship with Function and with Expression you expand your capacity for balance and wholeness.  This change is not only in your ability to functionally perform the actions that you take, but also in what and how you communicate to yourself and the world around you with your actions. 

The movement forms of Express Yourself and of Movement Fundamentals that I offer are two separate workshop opportunities that were created as companions in the exploration of Function/Expression.  The intention of each is, in part, to explore one "end" of this particular Theme of Duality.  By exploring each "half" of the duality, a mover has the opportunity to then re-integrate these dualities and to move with more overall resiliency.

Take a moment to consider the functional action of rotating your head.  Now ask your self:  how and why did I rotate my head from left to right?  Was I moving to visually or energetically take in the horizon or did I move to watch something as it flew right in front of my face? Did I move my head in a gliding continuous motion or did I jerk with small pulses from place to place along the route?  Was my movement Free and fluid or more Bound and controlled?  As I performed this action, was my focus within myself or out into my environment?  Did I notice my breath as I moved?  Was my movement an invitation to something or someone, or was this the movement of retreating away from something offensive?  Why and How did I do that action? 

Even if your answer is that you moved because you were told to, know that within your movement you did something that qualitatively made your movement unique to you. 

In their 2013 Everybody Is a Body, an exploratory primer on movement through the lens of LMA, Studd & Cox write "In order for change to be successful, there must be a change in how you perceive yourself and how you choose to express yourself in the world.  Unless one is able to make a fundamental shift in the expressive part of oneself, old patterns will reassert themselves.  Successful change includes both the purely functional as well as the expressive parts of self."

Deepening our relationship with the interrelated duality of Function/Expression gives us a way to more conscious ownership of the unique bodies that we each live within!