Today, for my research project I stood still for twenty minutes and filmed it. The aim, being to minimise all movement solely to that of the natural processes (breathing, heart beating, digestions etc.)- things that I cannot consciously put on pause.
It was interesting, before I started the task I assumed that I was being overly ambitious, that twenty minutes would be too much, that I’d crumble at ten minutes, itching to move after being static for too long. Twenty minutes, as it turns out, was a doddle.
I did, however, realise that being perfectly still is difficult, in fact nearing on impossible. Luckily lending itself neatly to the focus of my ‘impossible’ research project. If you’re familiar with Steve Paxton’s ‘Small Dance’ or ‘The Stand’, where you relax the body whilst standing so that you can observe the minute movements of the body then you’ll get the general jist of what happened to me. Except my aim was not to encourage these tiny movements, but to still them.
Dannielle Goldman, speaking about Paxton’s ‘Small Dance’ said that:
“In order to stand there’s a constant background noise, a small dance in the body’s effort to remain vertical”
After my twenty minute experiment I very much empathise with Goldman, for these tiny movements became as involuntary and uncontrollable as my heart beating and my lungs taking in breath. The more I tried to stop this movement, and to achieve perfect stillness the more I realised it was futile. The body was not made to be perfectly still. It is a living, breathing and moving organism and being still goes against it’s primary purpose. Therefore I concluded, that no matter how many times I practise, or for how long I try for I cannot make my body completely static. As for my mind, which I tried to quiet, I believe it is possible to clear out all the invading thoughts and to be somewhat still in your head space- I need to start meditating…
Nevertheless, here’s a neat little video of Steve Paxton himself doing the small dance. Happy Saturday!