Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Planetary Dance with Anna

Last week I was fortunate enough to observe a Planetary Dance ritual with Anna Halprin.

As a movement analyst and a structure geek, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make notes on how she organized the ritual (over the internet from CA!!) and what I saw transpire in the room.  Below are my notes on the event and paraphrased ideas that Anna expressed.  I wrote as quickly and accurately as possible, but paraphrasing was necessary. 

This was made possible by some fabulous people at UMD and once I have that info, I promise I'll post it.

2:00    Instructions from Faculty for the (about) 40 participants (Movement Integration, Ritual Dance class, other participants, faculty)
-       3 Concentric Circles
o   Outer: Running clockwise
o   Middle: Trotting counterclockwise
o   Inner: Walking clockwise
o   Inside these circles: the drummer will sit.  You may join him and pulse in some way. No rotation.
-       Make an intention: who or what are you running for?
2:15    Meet Anna and begin Warm-up Exercises
-       Gather in a circle.  Say your name with a gesture.  The circle repeats your name and performs your gesture.
-       Send a clap around the circle keeping a constant rhythm.
o   Try it without the aid of the drummer.
o   Try it again while stomping your feet rhythmically. 
o   Try it again with your knees bouncing.
o   Send it in the other direction
-       Anna says, “You, yourself are your own instrument”
-       Warm up using polarities
o   Grounding – breathe out and get grounded with a growl and pushing the person to your right
o   Uplifting sky – reach from your ribs, scapular, each finger into the sky
o   Horizon – find where the ground and sky meet in your body.  The “horizon”. Draw a diagonal line between your belly button and the bottom of your sacrum.  Put a red dot in the middle of that line.  That’s your middle.  “Energy radiates from there”.
o   Swinging – bring your arms to the air. Let go. Notice the swinging
-  Now try with head
-  Feel the gravity in the drop, the inertia in the swing, the force to return. More force makes a jump happen at the top!
Beginning with Running
-       Anna explains what will happen
o   A volunteer will start to run.  As she begins, she will state her intention
o   Intentions can be in memory of someone, or for a cause like the safety of refugees
o   You can improvise during the run
o   The speed of the run is your choice
o   Add into the run and state your intention
-       A volunteer starts to run.  As she begins, she states her intention
o   More people follow when prompted by Anna and faculty
2:33    A few minutes into the process
-       People are creating the inner circles of trotting and walking and pulsing.  They are taking rests
o   There are smaller layers with clapping in the center
Anna prompts the group to add chanting and sounds as they enter the middle pulsing area
-       Faculty begin to add movement besides running in the outer circle.  Others begin to follow them or follow the visual prompt
o   More complex layering starts
-       The circles begin to contract as the outer running circle becomes less populated.  It expands as more people join
o   There is a concentration around the drummer throughout this expansion and contraction
o   Windows begin to appear as people find places to turn around to join another circle.
-       2 people become primary sounders
o   Others float in and out as occasional sounders
-       Notes: polarities, grounding, breath, rhythm, sounding
-       Moving Methods
o   Running circle: dancing, skipping, walking, running
o   Trotting circle: skipping, slow jog, fast walk, sliding
o   Walking circle: walk, strut
o   Pulsing middle: swaying, dancing in place, clapping
-       Transition Methods: quick turns, sliding
-       Rest Methods: moving to an inner circle, slowing pace of movement, lessening frequency or intensity of core initiations, lowering facial and body affect, finding less populated circles
-       Space Negotiation
o   Establishing leaders
-  Movement: 5 people emerge as leaders
-  Sound: 3 people emerge as leaders
o   Finding running space, finding windows, filling open space, not letting the circle disappear
2:45    Circles contract
-       Down to 4-5 people at a time in the Running circle out of about 40 people present
-       2 people emerge as new movement leaders
-       One runner has knee impingement, this is lessening flexion in joint and maybe preventing twisting in spine?
-       Pulsing crowd has expanded exponentially
2:54    Runners down to 0 for a moment.  Back up to 1.
-       Walking circle speeds up to a trot and expands in size.  Is this to compensate for lack of runners?
-       We lose 2 dancers out of the entire ritual to fatigue
-       Vocalizations slide down to the decibel level of a conversation
2:58    Anna prompts Final Run and Gathering around Drummer
-       Arms into air to gain levity
-       Clapping near drummer
-       Anna prompts everyone to slowly lower to the ground
o   Private Moment: visualize what you ran for. Imagine it will come true.
o   “Close your eyes, lower your head, come inside yourself”
o   See who or what.  Imagine it’s truth. “Do they have anything they want to say to you?
o   Stand and place your hands on your heart
o   Blow your breath into your palms. Burst/fling your arms in the air with a “PAH!” to send the message into the air.
3:03    Form into groups of 4-5 people
-       Share what your intention was and how you’re feeling now.
3:11    Time Check and transition of people who need to depart for another class
-       Appreciation shown to drummer
-       Anna says “Thanks”
3:15    Question and Answer Time
-       Q: Natural Elements within Ritual
A: I work very “objectively” with anatomy of individuals
o   Ex) movement of ribcage w/ trapezius
o   Ex) upper-lower connection and tone: touch your sternum & touch your sacrum. Move one & feel the movement of the other
o   Ex) Partner back-to-back sitting: first person bends forward and the second rests their back on first person’s forward spine.  Feel the open space between the sternum & pubic bone.  Now switch.
-       Q: Meaning/idea of the shape of the concentric circles and their use in ritual.
A: "Tri" This has meaning in many ways.  It’s also physical; it accommodates people’s physical range and endurance.
-       Q: Significance of the use of rhythm, chanting, drumming.
A: Usually many musicians & singers participate.  Music always adds inspiration
-       Q: Do you have any specific Memories that inspire your work now?
A: Vertical Dance Company in Israel
o   Wanted to teach them a new creative process that uses the dancers more: instead of setting choreography on them, using a score.
o   Also did a peace walk with women of all different faiths: women walking in silent meditation for peace.  Ended in dancing and singing
-       Q: Elaborate more on HEALING component of work
A: We can use dance as a powerful healing force that participates with the medical profession.
o   Be active in the use of imagery
o   Keeping body in good shape
o   Internally experience movement.
o   Go deep into your own body
-       Q: What aspect of your career are you most proud of?
A: I never thought of…
o   Planetary Dance: 46 different countries. Getting more people moving that never had experienced it before.
o   Tamalpa Institute: Daughter continues it.  Life as an art process.  How does art relate to your life?
-  Self Portrait Process: One week on pelvis, one on arm and at the end, you dance your portrait
-       Q: My class is in process of designing a community ritual dance event with an altar.  What words of wisdom do you have for us?
A: Consider; what is your intention?
o   Ex) Help people with AIDS connect with their community.  This turned into a 10 day even where each person brought a caregiver with them. 
o   What do you hope to achieve?
o   How will it involve the audience and what role will they have?
o   How do you develop a vocabulary that supports your intention?
o   What is the community’s role?
-       Q: Why are altars effective?
      A: They become a concrete symbol.
3:30    Goodbye is said with a “PAH” sent skyward to Anna

National Dance Education Organization Conference 2015

I spent a lovely October weekend in Phoenix presenting at the annual NDEO conference. 

NDEO 2015 Conference-goers try out MEPC's Telephone Score
The Mountain Empire Performance Collective presented Necessity Fuels Creativity: Exploring Long-distance Methods of Dance Collaboration


I presented my own Laban research Exploring Laban Effort Combinations: A Spatial Affinity for Flow. My own conference handout and notes on my website KatieSopociDrake.weebly.com

The conference proceedings will be out on the NDEO website in future.