Saturday, May 16, 2015

Branch Dancing at Temple University's Department of Dance

Kailey McCrudden

Another academic year  is over, bringing individual and group learning processes to an end.  In my teaching, I often use the reflection paper as a tool for arriving at closure.  This semester various students of Corporeal Improvisation chose to write about Branch Dancing.  This year I was  delighted by the students’ articulate descriptions of their experiential discoveries.  With their permission,  I share some below:

“I found that as soon as I stepped into the space with the branches in my hand, my hands became my eyes and my eyes became an extension of the branch. I found this transition and sensation by standing still and feeling the texture and subtle movement within my branch.”  Katie Adkins
Katie Adkins and Leslie Cornish

“I noticed how organic my movement became while dancing with the branch.  I think this is because of the rough and natural shape of the branch. It is almost smooth in spots, but not completely.  This organic quality also resides in the energy the tree produces, even when the branch is broken from it’s roots and seemingly dead, an energy still exists.  This energy, when the practitioner is one hundred percent focused, is transferred naturally through the body.  While dancing I came more in tune with my breath and the steadiness of how I was breathing. I was not labored, even when my movement increased in speed.  I think because I was relying on the branch to initiate my movement, my breath maintained an evenness that stemmed from the intuitiveness of my transitions.”  Blythe Smith

“My first experience with branch dancing was surreal.  I began running my hands up and down the branch, feeling the spiral of the branch, and I felt the spiral in my bones.  Up until that moment, I intellectually understood the spiraling nature of every bone and muscle in my body, but I had never sensed the spiraling in such a fully embodied way.  Each muscle and bone in my body spiraled into the ground, up into the sky, and continued into the spiraling bone of the branch. My newfound awareness of the spirals I possess created a buzzing on every inch of the surface of my body.  This energy on my skin generated an awareness of the ends of my being and the touch of the air around me, but also allowed me to sense my energy radiating past my skin, through every inch of the space.  This juxtaposition of energy up and down, energy in and out of the body, knowing the edges of self and expanding oneself, creates an experience unlike any other.”  Kailey McCrudden

Blythe Smith
 “It felt right to hold onto and give weight to the branches, really allowing them to be a pillar of support.  I was able to drop my weight into pliés without holding back, as I was supported by the branches.  Often I would find myself balancing one branch on my shoulder, back or leg, while the other took residence in my hand, leading a weaving pathway around the balanced branch.  This really centered me and forced me to create a balance in the different directional energy of my body at all times.  Dancing with two branches gave me a 360degree awareness like no other type of practice.”  Blythe Smith

“As I continued about my day after branch dancing I found I maintained a different focus in my technique class and felt more calming spirit for a longer portion of the day. The practice really centered me and let all my unnecessary negative energy leave my body unconsciously.”  Katie Adkins