By Kimberley McIntyre
What does it matter where you dance as long as you dance?
Why are some places or spaces more conducive to ‘dropping in’?
Is it the place/space or the people? Where is the safety?
Where in lies the reverie? How do I go inwards yet still play?
Curious Body: a practice of being in & being seen
Coming out of the pause into restricted possibilities of continuing, not like before because normal is not back yet, we have to find another way. Local halls, venues, and studios are still navigating the easing of restrictions for some the procedures are too annoying to tackle so they remain closed. For others, they do what they can to tick the boxes, keep a list of who has been where when and with whom and soldier on one spray & wipe at a time.
For my practice of teaching and holding sessions of Curious Body, I have gone outside and one of the lovely things that have happened to me over this time is that the way I’ve adapted has become more rewarding than the way I was doing it. So there is a sense of gratitude for the need to adapt and change that was forced upon myself and so many others in recent months.
Teaching Curious Body outside these last four weeks has been profound, fun, and totally satisfying on many levels. Firstly, there is being in contact with an area of my town that I previously spent no time. A grassy area adjacent to a track & field space with cement netball courts and a skate ramp off in the distance. Huge Camphor Laurels give us the option of shade on one side and on another give us an amazing green backdrop. In a way it is not a ‘special’ place, we are not hidden, yet we are also not on show. We are part of the community that shares these spaces at different times of the day. This was part of the good feeling; practicing deeply and doing our thing but being in the world. The other wonderful part of outside practice that anyone who does this type of work will know is that nature stands out for you. All of a sudden something that was always there comes into your awareness. The sound of the wind in the leaves. The wind that comes from nowhere, and then goes back to nowhere. The birds, the ones far up in the sky and the little ones, hopping about on a post right beside me. The Galahs in the trees, and the flocks of Ibis soaring through the sky just as I turn my head. I am listing the biggest non-events of any given moment in daylight hours, yet I am also listing gifts that are always available yet so often go unnoticed.
Curious Body in a two-hour session; First we drop in by paying attention. To what? To everything or to one thing and then everything. ‘Dropping in’ is the technical term for becoming cellularly aware of where and what your body is doing in space. There are different pathways for getting there and mastering the ‘drop’, the more one practices the quicker one gets there. I facilitate dropping in by going there myself and then inviting participants by making verbal offers that hopefully land in the body & focus the attention. Once people are ‘in’ (or on their way) we continue. Continuing is a solo inward journey that naturally progresses to noticing more, sensing more, noticing others & the environment. As we continue further the art of responding can come into the practice. Everyone comes to this in their own timing, although I encourage it to move things along, not everyone needs to interact yet the dynamic and feel of the practice shifts. Once we have moved in this attentive and responsive space we find a pause and take a break. That whole process from arriving can take 30-45 min. The next phase can go in any number of directions depending on the group, usually, I like to go deeper into partner work, I could call this the embodiment phase. With the aid of our partners either by touch (once upon a time) or by witnessing we go further into what we found in the arriving phase. Our partner's attention offers a portal to pay even more attention to notice more and to inhabit & develop what we notice. If possible we layer into this phase the option of interacting with other movers. The skill of ‘being in’ & ‘being seen’ coupled with playing/crafting the moment is the essence of Curious Body.
I have many tools & scores for experiencing this way of creating solo and together. I am grateful for the movers who practice with me and resonate with Curious Body because their experience drives the work forward. And I am grateful for all those inquisitive movers out there who are interested but who haven’t yet come along. Curious Body has developed over the past 4 years from my dance experiences for the last 25 years. I was going to reflect on those experiences and influences here, but I think I’ve said enough for this post. Anyone reading this post who would like to practice or learn with me, I am contemplating keeping an outside practice for movers familiar with this work and adding a studio practice that is open to all. Please feel free to comment or reflect or drop me a line if you want to be kept in the Curious Body loop. Currently, practice is based on where I live in Regional NSW, Mullumbimby.
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