I like improvising. I like having the creative freedom to explore movement in ways that may not necessarily be covered in technique class. A medium within which I can play with ideas, lapse into favourite movements or simply go completely nuts and jump around for a bit. A lot of creative tasks that I have done in the past have asked that you close your eyes, either to help focus on some imagery, and/or to internalise movement in a very indulgent and individual way. I have no problem with this, in fact closing my eyes has become almost instinctive and helps me to achieve a very self aware, yet at the same time totally isolated from the world state of mind, wherein I find my movement quality becomes very authentic and habitual. I have no notion of self consciousness, what other people in the room are doing is of little consequence. These moments are what I imagine meditation is like. Sort of deep dance meditation where I can focus entirely on the creative task without being interrupted.
When I am asked to open my eyes I am presented with an irony, a tension between freedom and restriction. Sight is a sense that provides great faculties for creativity. Visual arts, everyday life and most importantly others dancers can help inform and inspire new work, even as simple as a creative task on a Tuesday afternoon. In this way the power of sight creates an avenue for uninhibited freedom. I can move bigger, cover space and move easily around other dancers, things that when my eyes are closed is a lot more risky. This all sounds great and in no way restrictive, but with all these other influences and choices I find the focus on myself and what I am doing becomes greatly reduced. I have lost the meditative state where movement flowed easily. I spend time watching other people, questioning whether I should copy them and whether I am doing it right. I’m not saying that these are entirely bad things, but that I have to compromise on the fluidity of thought and movement I can achieve with my eyes closed, it really enforces the power of sight.
True, with time and practise I should hopefully be able to emulate the same meditative state with my eyes open, but for now it is still a sort of creative struggle. At Northern there is great emphasis on focusing on yourself as a dancer, and what you can bring to the table. An environment that I feel only helps to stimulate this dance meditation and internal focus. But for now, it’s just interesting to note how opening and closing my eyes can have such a profound effect on my movement and thought process. Sight is probably the sense that most of us use the most. Using it to make decisions, to formulate our actions or simply to observe things. Building on this, that I have actually been able to differentiate between the two states and recognise that adjustment is needed is surely a good sign. Self reflection at it’s very best! What do you think? Food for thought!