Saturday, September 8, 2012

SoMoS: The Branches

Beua Hancock
In case you are wondering, no trees were harmed in the creation of this work.   The branches were collected from the ground, mostly from Wissahickon Valley Park.    We dance with branches that have been ripped off their trees by the wind, the rain, or snow; or that have cracked off a dead or dying tree.

Jumatatu Poe
We call it a stick, and don’t give it much thought, but when we pause and handle it with attention, we sense and understand that in its form, this common object reflects the fluid patterns life.   This now “dead” object, was once part of a living, growing organism.  As we connect to it we image the wizard’s staff, a conduit of ancient powers— the  original thrust of life and nature, the form of flow  form. 

Jumatatu Poe, Jung Woong Kim, Olive Prince & Marion Ramirez

The practice of branch dancing is  paying attention to our sensory responses when holding the branches.   How does the body assemble itself to find efficient balance; how can we balance the energy of the rest of the body with the energy/sensation at the point of contact; how does one survive the practice over and extended period of time?  Sensing the weight, shape, and form of the branches triggers the somatic imagination and a myriad of sensations.  A feedback circuit is activated connecting sensing, observing, responding, imagining, choosing, and doing.   We sense the  myriad of  intersecting energies of physical  experience.  We re-member evolutionary processes and our connection to other living things.

We trick ourselves into staying present by committing to difficult tasks such as balancing “impossibly” heavy or long branches, handling various branches at one time, etc. The physical and somatic concentration is exacting, inviting a shift of consciousness.  Viewers willing to slow down  with us often report slipping into a place of reverie.  

SoMoS attempts to promote a communal shift in consciousness.   We have designed the various environments to stimulate the senses and the imagination.  But its not an automatic process.  We have to enter the experience; we have to slow down and take our time.   In the same way the dancer has to pause and sense into her body, the audience is invited to pause, and gently observe their own sensory and imaginative experience.

I hope you will join us  October 12. 

Photos: Lindsay Browning 
Video: Merián Soto

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