Do, Explore or Listen?

When you dance, do you do the movement, explore it or listen to how your body wants to perform it?

This weekend I took a workshop with Nathan Trice, a former Complexions, MOMIX and Donald Byrd dancer who now runs his own troupe. His movement style is kind of a modern dance-based version of contemporary ballet; it's slinky and line-driven, but much of the choreography is actively turned in. My body loved the it's amazing flow and kookiness. Yet the process by how Trice wanted us to move was incredibly challenging for me.

We'd been working on a piece of his choreography for about half an hour when he stopped everything to ask the room a question: "Are you doing the movement, exploring the movement or allowing your body to tell you what the movement is?" 

When I dance, I know I always try to "do." Coming from a classical ballet background, I've been trained to mimic what something looks like, to get it "right." Relinquishing control to my body's natural inclinations is not my greatest strength. However I know that my favorite dancers aren't the ones who muscle their way into movement, but seem to move the way do because they have to, because their body is telling them that's where they need to go in that particular moment.

For the next hour I tried to do everything I could to let my body tell me where it wanted, where it needed to go. Although I'm sure a lot of what I did looked pretty ugly, and I fell off my balance more than once, I started to find an deeper, more internal place to move from. I ignored the mirror and my own expectations of how I thought it was supposed to look. It was definitely a struggle. But there were moments where I felt that place of abandon, a freedom that was well worth the work—or lack thereof.