The project Störung/Hafraah is a wonderful challenge for me to engage my body focused training with my interest in working with people. I feel that I am a sort of conduit of information right now, receiving and giving simultaneously through readings, teaching, moving and talking. My dance training feeds philosophical discussions which in turn feed debates on engineering and robotics and science which feed a moment of liberation for someone suffering from Parkinson’s. It’s wonderfully hectic.
After reading the book Deep In The Brain by Helmut Dubiel, I feel as though I have a better understanding of the horror of living with and treatment of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). The project Störung has been quite an intense journey thus far, arriving almost one month ago with minimal understanding of the disease and undergoing a sort of boot camp of exchanges and lectures ranging from philosophical approaches to the theme of intention and it’s relation to body mechanics, to Capoeira Class relating to the theme of balance.
I’ve watched countless videos relating to movement work with PD, researched bodywork methods, and read numerous studies and essays as well as Helmut Dubiel’s book. One of the things that struck me most in his book was the frankness of his experiences, the roller coaster of emotions caused by how his connection to his surroundings has been rocked, the change in how he treats himself in social situations and how others treat him. I see it in my own communication to the participants in the classes. I feel the desire and reflex to treat them as if they are sick, to protect them. They come to be treated as equals.
So my job is to give them movement work that challenges both of our desires and fears, that gives them the opportunity to be equal and take risks, and that challenges my own preparedness and empathy. We are all learning and daring. We are all fearful and searching. We want an ease, a simplicity. We are working really hard, but smiling. It has been a quick rocket ride to get to know each other (physically). We move and giggle and breathe and see each other.
I feel so lucky to be here. The days pass like dominoes. I’m filling up with experiences and information. I’m searching for loopholes in this disease, in our relationships to it, in how we question it and move in it. What are the doctors and researchers questioning? Are they asking the right questions? Am I? Is there a physical program that can offset the symptoms for a much longer timeframe? Is “dancing” once per week enough (this I think is my biggest question/issue)?
I want to say that this project should be the beginning of an ongoing collaborative process to treating and eradicating not only Parkinson’s, but perhaps other neurological disorders, etc…??? Philosophers, engineers, dancers, doctors, scientists, dramaturges and more all working together toward a similar goal, the one able to finish the sentence of another in a completely separate field. Specialists able to learn one another’s vernacular in a week and ask each other pertinent questions that we’ve never knew to ask ourselves.
Mondays I teach class for people with Parkinson’s and Wednesdays I teach classes for a group of young researchers and have found them wonderfully joyous to work with as well. I want to put them on stage and experience them going through the learning process that one can only go through by movement training, by getting to know one’s body on a more somatic level and being present inside themselves, but presenting that to someone else. Instead of studying body mechanics, they are now experiencing it (though many of them have previous movement experience).
To finish this short update, I’m also in the studio improvising, writing, reading… I’m trying not to draw any conclusions and trying to accept whatever comes my way each day. Learning by moving. Thinking while moving. Stopping. Being silent. Singing. Today I danced however I felt like dancing because I felt like I owe that to people that can’t. It was the loveliest 10 minutes I’ve had in a while.
This month of research has been focused around the theme of Intention. In my next post, I will go more into specifics about how I have been working with and understanding this in the studio and in the classes.
Here is a short video of a dance we did at the Winter School based on a task of giving social commands to one person and receiving from another simultaneously:
And some images from the first 3 weeks…