Movement Research | Artistic
As a choreographer and performing artist I might have contributed for many years to the corpus of Artistic Research. Yet I didn’t call my work “research”. I wasn’t aware and I didn’t articulate that me and my collaborators were generating knowledge in our creative processes. Was I a researcher then?
“An investigation directed to the discovery of some fact by careful study of a subject, a course of critical or scientific enquiry” (OED)
"In the broadest sense of the word, the definition of research includes any gathering of data, information, and facts for the advancement of knowledge." (Godwin Colibao)
The term “research” is generally not being questioned in the context of traditional science. Nevertheless it has different applications in different fields. We all know that for the chemist it happens in the laboratory experiment, it means field work for the cultural anthropologist, studying original manuscripts for the historian and reading other philosophers’ work for the philosopher. What Artistic Research means in the different artistic disciplines is widely discussed.
"Artistic Research seems to be the new thing in art" is a talk by art historian and art critic Jeroen Boomgaard from 2013, and the title reflects the abundant use of the term these days. We could also say that Artistic Research is the banner that helps to collect what one day will be the corpus of Artistic Research, consisting of work papers, texts and pronouncements of artists and non-artists.
After working for 9 years with my company Tempesdanza in Mexico, I came to Zürich where I didn’t have a company nor a working space. As a result my work has focused on my own movement exploration. Influenced through the master studies at ZHdK I got interested in the research aspect of my explorations of body, sensation and anatomy.
As a contemporary dancer I am continuously interested in movement. I am interested in how I move and how you move. I am interested in what moves me and what moves you. How do we move and what moves us?
As a young dancer I had studied movement through different techniques and styles which gradually widened the range of movement available for my body. At the same time I did my best to match the shape of my body to the given movement. I learnt strategies of copying movement in more efficient ways.
When studying Release Technique I discovered that there was a difference between initiating movement from my muscles or from my bones. Studying the Axis Syllabus technique I found that by releasing muscular holding the movement available in each joint would be of wider range and almost infinite. And when bringing my awareness additionally to the fascia that surrounds each bone, muscle and joint, movement would become surprisingly unpredictable and continuous.
In 2000 I started studying Body-Mind-Centering. I found that I could move from my organs as well and basically from any anatomical structure in my body, if I only had awareness of it.
The informed body – how do we do it?
The human body has senses that provide sensory information about itself. Kinesthesia is the body’s awareness of movement in relationship to itself (my arm is moving in relationship to my center) and proprioception is the body’s awareness of movement in relationship to space (my arm is changing its position in relationship to the earth).
Although we can identify individual muscles in the body, there has been research that shows that the nervous system organizes movement efficiently through images. Specific techniques have been developped using imagery to improve movement and alignment.
Imagery plays a role in different embodiment techniques, as Body-Mind-Centering and Body-Mind-Movement, where there are different approaches of how to identify the anatomical structures of the body through sensation and movement.
A common method is to study pictures of the anatomy of interest and add any other relevant information, anatomical or physiological. Using the images should help to connect to one’s own body sensation so that you can for example distinguish between your forearm bones and forearm muscles. A common strategy here is the simplification of the theoretical information, so that the complexity of the sensation can add more details later on.
Another approach are guided movement explorations, where verbal cues facilitate the experience of a specific anatomical structure. This type of exploration often uses music in order to support a specific quality, like for example African percussion for the experience of arterial blood flow.
In both approaches the question remains of how im-mediate the sensation can be, given that it is influenced, altered and shaped by many factors such as the type of images and the medium used (book, computer, paper copies), the voice and language of the facilitators and their musical choices?
Facing this complexity I chose reduced graphics as a visual support to illustrate the stages of the Embryo Score.
Despite the broad variety of influencing or altering components, the conclusion here is that if I don’t want to leave the authority over my body and sensations to doctors and medical institutions, I need to trust my body and sensations as the only reliable tools to experience and gain knowledge about my body anatomy from within.
My movement research
My interest in anatomy was never therapeutical.
My interest in embodiment is artistic.
My movement research is artistic research.
A common practice in BMC/ BMM is cellular breathing, which is understood as being the rhythm of expansion and contraction of each body cell - a subtle breathing rhythm that underlies the pulmonary breathing. Based on experiments, where researchers measured the weight of a single cell with 1 nanogramm, it has become common to indicate the number of body cells as 70 trillion, thinking of 70kg being an average body weight.
Sometimes I get lost in manyness when I try to be aware of my 70 trillion cells.
There is an aesthetic component to the process of embodiment.
 Eric Franklin, Dynamic alignment through imagery, 2012