Tools for Participating in Life

by Molly Hodgson

This week of discovering, exploring, and embodying both the Laban Movement Analysis and the Language of Dance methods has been a rich experience as a dancer and an aspiring educator. Instructors Frederick Curry and Tina Curran provided a multitude of ways to enter the subject of dance and many tools to take away to implement into our unique lives. The content of this week has given me tools for creating movement as well as tools to form developmentally aligned warmups for myself that I can teach to others. This week has provided mechanisms to observe movement and ways to speak about those observations. Both LMA and LOD provided devices to understand and participate in life and encouraged the beauty of continuously being a student and a learner.

Activities in the first couple of days included understanding and embodying the patterns of total body connectivity, phrasing of movement including simultaneous, successive, sequential, gesture, initial, and/or leading, and exploring our central, peripheral and transverse kinesphere movement. Embodying the variety of these options revealed to me the endless possibilities to change, manipulate, and develop movement. These experiences diminished the fear of getting stuck while creating movement. We were given many different approaches via the body, effort, space, and relationships to adjust or experiment any movement which erases the fear of being unable to create or getting stuck in the creative process.

While learning and embodying the total body connectivity patterns, I was filled with satisfaction as my whole body felt engaged, connected, mobile, and equipped for anything that was next. Breaking down the fundamental total body connectivity patterns within a larger phrase inspired me to build my own warm up that aligns with the patterns of total body connectivity that prepares my body to move and can also serve anyone I am in rehearsal with or teaching class to.

Much of this week consisted of learning specific vocabulary while applying it not only physically but visually through observation. The considerable amount of vocabulary we learned include but are not limited to body patterns, action words, space symbols, traveling patterns, effort and dynamic descriptive words, shapes, and modes of shape changing. This large tool box of vocabulary improved my ability to articulate what I was seeing as well as what I was feeling with movement. The clear division of categories as well as the multitude of descriptive words for dance within the LMA and LOD framework increased my confidence in talking about dance. I am grateful for the exposure to the researched and practiced vocabularies of LMA and LOD.

Amongst the entire week of LMA and LOD, the day we explored effort qualities, specific to LMA, had a great effect on me by revealing the direct correlation making, executing, and watching dance can improve my participation with life in any and all scenarios. Observing movement challenges you to see through multiple lens, to observe and not judge, and to honor the reality of your projections and cultivate awareness of others perspectives. The practices that we explored were directly related to dance, however the modes of cultivating awareness, broadening your practice of observation, and developing an ability to shift to different energies yields immense benefits in everyday life. As we explored in the space in our own bodies: light vs strong movement, indirect vs direct, free vs bound, and sustained vs quick, I began to notice preferences and projections of my own. Then culminating with a group discussion to hear others opinions and experiences proved the reality of how unique and different each of our experiences are but how beautiful each unique situation is. Frederick commented on Laban’s intention behind these defined quality polarities with an understanding that as humans we need balance and harmony among them all in our own unique ways. This embodiment and discussion brought great satisfaction knowing that exploring, embodying, and sharing these tools will continue to cultivate my awareness, bring attention to what I am projecting, and broaden my perspectives in all parts of my life.

All in all, this week of LMA and LOD compiled tools for creating movement as well as tools to form developmentally aligned warmups for myself that I can teach to others. This week provided mechanisms to observe movement and ways to speak about those observations, and provided devices to understand and participate in life. Ultimately, I am encouraged by the beauty of continuously being a student and eternally being a learner of life.