PhD Thesis: The Ecological Body ~ extracts
Strata - Autobiographical Movement
Body patterns may be seen as embodied attitudes. As a movement teacher, I start from the movement preferences of participants, whilst relating to how they act/behave as part of a wider psychophysical pattern, indeed eco-psychophysical pattern.
An individual’s patterns of movement become apparent to me by observing movement dynamics in terms of active and passive, proportions, transition/position, and point, line and angle. These modes of observation allow me to structure and focus my observation of the mover and their perception of the environment through movement, while remaining aware that I am witnessing them through my own kinaesthetic preferences.
I look at how the ‘performer’, in the broadest sense of the word, moves through environmental space in terms of patterns, levels and directions, which begins to reveal their ‘attitudes’. In Move into Life, I witness these personal preferences and variations from a consideration of how each particular person can give themselves more choices in how they move. I utterly accept and appreciate what they can already do. I help them to clarify their own particular habits, so that they themselves can be aware of how they move as their own unique vocabulary. This amplification and definition of their choice of patterns gradually helps them to be bodily aware of how they do, as they are doing it, rather than retrospectively, or not at all.
I had asked each participant to continue to document their process between the two workshops, which was a period of about six weeks. They had already given me their written documentation, but they were to produce a secondary, creative piece of work which reflected their process. These were very varied, including poetry, visual art, an installation and a labyrinth.
TB produced two phases of work. First of all, at the second weekend, she brought a painting, which encapsulated her personal experience at the Green Road. It was vibrant, full of movement and life, a joy to witness and reminiscent of the cloth that she wrapped around her hips. This painting begins the slideshow here, which also presents some examples of other peoples' work.
Secondly, after the close of the workshop, she sent me a short DVD in which she had edited together images to reflect her process. With the DVD, I felt that not only had she fully embodied her experience but that she was now also bringing her artistic awareness into play and was transposing her autobiographical experience into a more public piece of work. TB’s work gave a clear idea of how material which emerged during an Autobiographical Movement workshop might evolve into artistic material. Click here to see this piece of work.
The Elders Move
In line with my wish to present my research through multiple voices, here is a record of three movers in a group improvisation which touched on cultural issues through movement. I include: a description from two of the participants, BC and SS, sketches from the third participant, FM, a slideshow, and below, a statement from one of the witnesses to the improvisation. TD.
The piece, for me, started very slowly, quietly connecting with each other. It felt like a gentle tender piece … There was a kind of ‘being’ quality to the piece. The movement of our group SS, FM and myself was a very deep movement piece for me and it felt very beautiful and connected to: each other; to the elements; to the torrential rain; to the primal, from SS’s scream; to the cultural from the keaning of FM and myself . I felt that again I connected with the deep grief within me, but that there was not enough time or perhaps it was not the place to express it. And it was OK and possible for me to contain it. I had a sense of the three crones, the three grandmothers communicating, supporting and connecting with each other in a relaxed and gentle way. The memory of what Marina Lindberg said to me many years ago, about leading a group of women out to sea to drown in rebellion flashed through me.
I worked in a group with two other women. I felt like being very gentle with myself. There was a turquoise cloth which to me is the colour of healing. I worked in a very gentle way, lying on the floor- just moving my body at first and then with the cloth. I gently drew it over my body, wrapping it around me and then passed it on to one of the other women. I made gentle contact with the other women – sometimes making contact without really touching. I was aware of them also moving slowly and gently.
Then we reached a place where the other two women were lying on the ground, connected physically and through holding the cloth. I was standing next to them, feeling connected to them. The improvisation seemed to be coming to a close.
Suddenly the elements outside hammered the windows – torrential rain. I had a sense of something beating against the glass walls, wanting to come in. Instinctively, I invited it in with a movement of my hands .
Then a scream came from me, followed by howling. I doubled over in a terrible heart-rending grief which ended in sobbing. Then the other two women started keaning or something – sounds of grief .
I felt that a huge grief was being expressed through me. I felt the presence of the families of all the people who had been lost at sea – including fishermen, in fact- mostly fishermen. Eventually we came to a place of quietness and so did the elements . Wind and rain had quietened ... I felt that something very sacred had happened here and felt humbled and privileged to be part of this.
SS, BC, FM.
Sandra has indicated three or four people. When I see these three getting up something about eldership comes up and I make a very conscious decision not to get up.
The movement begins and I am struck by Ss’s use of the cloth and her placing it over herself and then, very clearly as I see it, letting it go … It begins raining very loudly and SS seems to turn to the rain and allow it to vibrate through her. She moves towards the rain and begins to sound with her whole body, as I see her. I see her now in a ‘beyond’ place or time and I find I have a strong need to breathe and stay very grounded as I witness this. …Strong images of these three women’s individual pieces of work come to me again: is this all about death and rebirth, themes which, as I saw it, where in all three individual pieces?
I am left with all sorts of questions about boundaries, time, beyond time, the boundary of the other world and this world, death, new life, ancestors, cultural heritage, the holding of the future moment in the present moment, and the bringing together of our divinity and our humanity.