During a retreat with Sandra Reeve at Coventry University (March 2016), I explored concepts of orientation, location, and direction. I realised that moving for me is an act of locating myself in various conditions and unfolding layers, like a Body Positioning System (BPS). Where am I, in relation to this, and this, and this (inside-outside; concrete-abstract; seen-unseen, past-present-future). My body positions itself, or rather, through my body moving I become aware of my position ‘in relation to’ x,y,z; a position which is explored through concrete exercises, haphazard thoughts, and spontaneous encounters, as well as through metaphors and imagery.
Where GPS only needs to know where you are (present), and where you are going (future),* the BPS also acknowledges where you came from (history, past). It even affords time travel: My hand moves centuries / Layers fall away to that time when / this was a brand new building / proud and whole and solid / then disappeared, covered / and uncovered, brought to light again / when the bombs fell.
The retreat included led and unled movement, alone and with others, in the studio, in a park, a city square, on the pavement, in an age-old ruin. Some of Reeve’s invitations included to move with an awareness of angle/line/point, transition/position, proportion. Also, her concept of ‘affordance’ was useful to shift focus: what unique experience do spaces ‘afford’ you, give you? This cultivates a receptivity rather than a doing, as well as a dynamic understanding that the view from where you happen to be looking/feeling/experiencing is truly unique – no phenomenon looks the same from a different height, angle, or from a different pair of eyes. Aside from presence, we also looked at absence, seeing what is not here, who is not here, and what aspects of ourselves are not present in this moment?
I marvelled at the complexity of different dynamics within the urban environment, as well as slowing down to find space within the noisy busy-ness. People rushed past with coffee or lunch bags. Times of relative stillness followed by herds of students between one class and the next. Architecture, vehicles, birds, building activities, trucks collecting waste, all these different ‘dimensions’ shape the eb and flow of the cityscape. It opened my awareness to our interconnection in a very visceral way. Towards the end of the week I felt myself working with layers. Layers of materials, structures, time, sound and the spaces between sounds, activities and quietude, people, animals and spirit.
The moving body becomes an antenna, a permeating membrane, connecting, layering everything, all of us and all of time, in a seamless multi-dimensional whole. Perhaps the BPS is ‘only’ the first step, as we are so much more than body, and we could rather speak of movement as a Timeless Multidimensional Positioning System, an exploration of boundaries and meeting, here, there, where? It is an ongoing becoming, a becoming familiar with the territoire of being human, spirit in body, in space, now, eternal.
*) a thought-seed from Ya’Acov Darling Khan
KIEFT, E. 2014. Dance as a moving spirituality: A case study of Movement Medicine. Dance, Movement & Spiritualities, 1, 21-41.
Photo Collage: Web of Life, © Eline Kieft, 2009