I was considering this question two weeks ago in a Curious Body session after a profound duet showed up and the room went silent with wonder at the beauty of it. What made it beautiful? The magic, the profound connection , the timing, the felt experience as witnesses. The two movers were not trying they were in the magic. You could call it flow state perhaps, or the zone, or as I have referenced in previous posts, I could say they were totally “dropped in” & that’s why they could create it.
I don’t want to over analyse the magic, but I do want to acknowledge it. Sometimes we are in this state for a short time. Sometimes moments of divine timing happen in an Improvisation and we take those moments as gifts of the practice. If the magic is there from beginning to end that is something extra special. It’s special to be in it as the creator and it’s special for the witnesses also. I can’t say I live for these moments but I find them deeply satisfying. It also makes me very happy to be part of the reason that the conditions are present so magic can arise.
Maybe it is worth a little analysis. What are the conditions from which magic can arise? What are the blocks to magic? Laziness is a block. A busy mind is a block, and doing what you always do is also not helpful. People think Improvisation is easy, but it is not. It’s not easy to watch and it’s not easy to do. But if you do it well, it is easy to watch. Ha.
To begin we have to arrive, and then we have to notice we are beginning. Noticing takes attention and attention takes effort. So you cannot be lazy and still expect to notice. You cannot be lazy and still expect to drop in and shift states from normal everyday person to a body aware person. We want our attention to be heightened, we want to notice everything. Breath is key also, as it is with meditation training, noticing the breath while you are moving and using it consciously can bring you into a sensing body state that is ready to play and engage.
If movers run through yoga poses to arrive and warm up, they may stretch this or that, but it wont bring them into new moving territory, it wont wake up their creativity. So we need to get these habits out of the way and start noticing the body and go from there. It sounds a bit scary with nothing to hold onto, as a teacher I will offer images or speak of body parts or thoughts on seeing, sensing & feeling to help enable movers to unfold into not knowing. From this place I think we can become interested. That is the ideal, that curious, interested state.
I tend not to use music to bring people into a state although I know this can be done very well, but the effect is different and the practice is different. I could say coming into a moving state through music is like having a drip feed, we don’t have to hunt for our food. If we just go with the music there is not so much work to do. It’s not better or worse and the practices are not mutually exclusive, but you do not get that easy drip feed ride in a Curious Body class. I try to use music that is obscure in form so that it cannot be hooked into by the mover. Curious Body is about working at being interested, so certain music or silence will support that evolution best.
Al Wunder was one of my teachers. He used language like ‘initiator’ & ‘responder’, putting us in duets making us choose a role each, possibly throwing out another imperative like ‘left elbow as primary mover’ and off you went to work with that to sound of his hand made hum drum… Curious Body is full of all my past teachers. And I’m grateful for them all.
Some moments arise as divine, when no one in the solo, duo or group appears to be doing anything special and yet the listening & responding is happening in such a way that the unfolding choreography is perfect. This is a skill. It is the magic, and the movers that practice know how to make it. They know when it is there and if they don’t cling to it they could find themselves in it for minutes at a time. Perhaps I do live for those minutes because they feed the rest of the hours in my day. They keep me going as an artist, a teacher and as a maker. They keep me reaching for the next collaboration, the next project.
Age and experience are no barrier to the magic. I feel it and see it often when I dance with this group of local men at the Mullumbimby Drill Hall. OMD members are in their 70’s (we do have one young one who is still waiting to hit this golden decade) and dancing and improvisation have not featured widely in their lives before we started the project. We practice a little differently in OMD than in Curious Body, but the conditions we need to make magic are the same. It takes effort to listen and tune in, and it take desire to try different things and make them your own. The magic I am actively cultivating with OMD is about finding the groove and tuning in with timing & listening. I feel like this is gold and the good vibes that leave the session show me how much gold is worth on a Monday afternoon.
In praise of magic moments please share where you find them in your practice or how you notice them in your everyday…