“Why Do We Document Dance?” from the perspective of the movement analyst |written by Wooguru | the MTD lab in Budapest 2018

1. Subject: Why Do We document Dance?
1.5. What is dance? Why does dance deserve to be documented?
2. Premises: What is the human body? How can dance be documented?
2.5. How to sense one’s body as it is
3. A brief analysis of the movements of the dance teachers in the MTD lab in Budapest 2018
: The Compressed Lips While Dancing
1. Subject: Why Do We document Dance?
Documentation is the human trait in principle. Each of individuals documents one’s life on one’s terms. All types of documentation are to pass down the accumulated and refined knowledge to posterity in the hope of providing the better ground to start and enrich their lives. Dance documentation is also in line with the eventual goal of human activities.
1.5. What is dance? Why does dance deserve to be documented?
One’s spontaneous, and thus free movements are the origin of all kinds of the dance styles. The core of which to define the concept of the contemporary dance is the unweary yearn toward attaining the total freedom of the individual. Dance is the most explicit form of expression for individual freedom. Thereby, dance documentation can contribute the progress of humankind by fostering the awareness of the human body and its meaning.
2. Premises: What is the human body? How can dance be documented?
The human body is to sustain itself by continuous movements, which balance between inflows and outflows until the end of its life. Breathing movements initiate all physical actions of the body in principle. During inhalation, the body intakes oxygen to generate energy and becomes stretched upward and tensed to retain energy. Conversely, during exhalation, the body releases energy from itself and becomes relaxed and bent forward to the ground. Thereby, breathing control means being capable of adjusting the body freely during both inspiration and expiration. Each of human bodies has distinguishing features, which constantly generate the requirements of its own; the body moves automatically and naturally to satisfy its urges for its survival as it is. The human body is to attain its independence and spontaneity by retaining its inherent traits rooted in itself. Dance is one of the human activities to acquire the total freedom of the individual. The documentation of dance, which promotes duplication to learn specific movements without regard for the individual body, is not paradoxically adequate to retain traditions and methods; furthermore, it stifles the natural manifestation of one’s creative potentials by restricting one’s freedom of movement. Dance techniques and training methods should not play a role in dictating and restraining one’s way of moving before one is aware of one’s body and innate and thus organic breathing flow. Collecting information in dance forms the basis of one’s archive; however, to make the accumulated data useful and accessible, data has to be selected from one’s authentic perspective in determining the link between the fraction of the whole and the core of one’s body. Thereby, the individual conductor has to be capable of evaluating and filtering data in relation to oneself. And naturally, the selective data by the individual cannot cover all aspects of which to be addressed, but it can compensate its deficiency by communicating and collaborating with other individuals collecting and translating information from the viewpoints of their own; because humans are independent individuals but simultaneously social animals born interdependent each other. The dance educator is the person in the position that conveys the selective knowledge of the body according to the purpose of the class; selection is the act which is determined by how one interprets the information in the given situation. Hence, the dance educator has to be capable of grasping how the knowledge of the body works in the educator’s body to overcome the limitation in which one can only sense the body of one’s own as it is. In doing so, the possible best selection manifests itself in the course of translating the data of the body movement for the particular purpose into one’s own. In conclusion, the essential quality of the dance educator lies in the ability to sense the educator’s body as it is.
2.5. How to sense one’s body as it is
Breathing is prior to all types of body movements, which means that all dance techniques regardless of the styles unconditionally originate in breathing movements. To master a specific technique, one should be aware of which to enable the intended movements to happen in one’s body. One respiration comprises one inspiration and one expiration, which induces the continuous up-and-down motions. As mentioned above in paragraph 2, the body automatically regulates itself by balancing of inputs and outputs, tension and relaxation. During inhalation, the body becomes stretched and produce tension to retain energy. In contrast, during exhalation, the body becomes relaxed and bent forward to the ground and releases energy to recover its loss and fatigue in preparation for the next move. In fact, the importance of expiration in motion, which causes relaxation, is evidently neglected; therefore, most of the people feel the difficulties to control their bodies during exhalation and rather hold their breath to keep up the tension. However, to maintain the body in balance, the ability to exhale and relax during exercise has to be regained. The conscious mind controls the tension and contraction of the body; conversely, relaxation is the physical state of being not consciously controlled in which the gravitational force takes a role in maintaining the body in motion. The body does not collapse in standing while exhaling inducing the relaxation; because the body automatically regulates and protect itself; meaning, one should allow the gravitational force to pull the body downward, not obsessing with controlling by oneself during exhalation against the organic flow of the body. Accordingly, one can restore the inherent balance of one’s body and sense oneself as it is when breathing naturally.
3. The brief analysis of the movements of the dance teachers in the MTD lab in Budapest
I carefully watch people’s movements to understand how they feel and what they genuinely want. The following is the outstanding tendency found among teachers during the seminar in Budapest in March 2018.
: The compressed Lips While Dancing
The compressed lips while dancing appear with the facial muscle groups highly tensed, which stifles the natural process of expiration inducing the relaxation across the body. Evidently, facial muscles are supposed to become relaxed as one exhales to open itself; the mouth is naturally open to release the air as well as the nose, regardless of ways of breathing, e.g., the abdominal and the diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing through the nose naturally links to the abdominal breathing, which directly inflates the abdomen during inspiration. As the stomach swells, the center of gravity shifts downward to stabilize the body, and the body does not produce enough tension to sustain itself for intense physical activities of which to require the frequent shifting of the center of mass, ranging from walking to swimming. Keeping up the tension on the facial muscle groups during expiration is the determinant of inducing the thoracic breathing, also known as shallow breathing, which necessarily impairs the connectivity of the body and movements. More accurately, the body can intake air as much as it releases out of lungs; hence, breathing becomes more frequent and shallow in compensating the lack of oxygen; the range of motion is significantly limited. One can inflate lungs by breathing through the nose; however, it requires to generate the unnecessary tension during the entire process. In doing so, one has to concentrate on sustaining one’s body not to collapse and thereby cannot avoid being distracted continuously due to the lack of energy. The upright standing is the basic position of the human body in which to be supported by the diaphragmatic breathing. In maintaining the erect posture, the core muscles contract and narrow the abdominal space during inspiration; in succession, the lower back is inflated and stretched upward. In general, breathing is carried out through the mouth and the nose at the same time according to the natural process of respiration comprised of tension and relaxation; all body parts are interdependent to be cohesively connected as one organic entity of which to be affected and driven by the same determinant. The dependency on whether the mouth or the nose in breathing is entirely dependent on one’s purpose and way of moving, for instance, the response speed of the diaphragmatic breathing is much quicker than the abdominal breathing takes. Thus, the mouth plays a primary role in conducting the task which requires either the instant reactions or much power. Conversely, one can benefit from breathing through the nose to slow down the velocity of motion, and to move in place for physical activities like yoga and singing.

Preface: Analyzing the universality of the human body to bolster the fundamentality toward retaining individuality

1)The human body oriented toward attaining the freedom of the individual

2)Fostering spontaneity to retain individuality

3)Understanding breathing movements to enhance the spontaneity of the body

1)The human being is the distinctive species, which differentiates itself from the other living beings on earth. The human body shaped by its characteristic ways of moving provides the connotation to ponder the eventual aim of humankind. Thereby, the upright standing symbolizes the essence of the human evolution toward attaining the total freedom of the individual as it is. And human hands liberated from the function of locomotion takes a crucial role in enabling humans to satisfy their distinct needs for survival as human beings. In principle, the body of every life form constantly moves to maintain its life until it perishes, and each species optimizes its ways of moving to meet its requirements to survive. However, the upright standing necessarily reduces the overall mobility of the body and even increases the vulnerability to the gravitational stress, which perniciously erodes the physical balance; despite all the disadvantages that restrict physicality, humans can benefit from this physically imperfect position in fostering creativity and individuality. Weight shifting with four limbs requires full attention and consumes much energy; therefore, more frequent rest and longer recovery time are necessary to sustain the body than the upright standing needs. By contrast, the human body in the standing position is to stabilize itself with a high level of energy efficiency and thereby to accumulate the surplus energy more than for its survival. Hence, humans driven by the surplus energy can create the physical state that promotes the unique cohesion of brain activities and free hands. In doing so, the uniqueness of the independent body naturally manifests itself in its free movements oriented toward obtaining its sovereignty for meeting the desires of its own, and this moment of freedom is what humans pursue. Hence, the notion of freedom for humankind is inexplicable apart from the understanding of individuality formed by the needs of one’s own. The human being’s sense of individuality is more decisive in explaining humanity than any other creatures possess; thus, the freedom that humans pursue means the holistic state resulting from the actions to meet one’s requirements to survive as one is. Thereby, individuality is the critical trait that defines humanity.

2)Individuality is an inherent feature rooted in one’s body that drives one to attain the freedom of one’s own; thus, it is the virtue to be retained, not to be obtained. And one’s spontaneous movements materialize one’s individuality as it is; therefore, one can focus on one’s action when one is aware of oneself. In that sense, fostering spontaneity of the human body is a prerequisite to developing human abilities to meet human desires.

3)The human body spontaneously sustains itself by perpetual movements in which breathing performs an essential role in initiating all types of physical actions by regulating the internal energy circulation in interacting with nature. Respiration comprises one inhalation and one exhalation in balancing of inflows and outflows to maintain the state of equilibrium. In detail, during inhalation, the body becomes stretched in taking oxygen to generates energy. By contrast, the body becomes relaxed in releasing energy from itself. And the respiratory mechanism controlled by the abdominal movements induces the continuous up-and-down motions that affect every single cell in the body at the same time and thereby enable the body to react in unison. And the following factors; the condition of the body and the mental state are decisive to dictate how breathing flows; furthermore, these elements are entirely dependent on the state of the individual’s body and mind. On that point, contemplating what drives one to move in specific ways is vital in analyzing one’s breathing flow in which one’s movements originate. Thereby, the human respiration research encompassed the individualized approach to one’s breathing flow forms the basis that bolsters the holistic understanding of human movement and humanity.

: The Diaphragmatic Breathing and The Abdominal Breathing

The ways to produce tensions in the body differentiate between the diaphragmatic breathing and the abdominal breathing. Otherwise, both forms of respiration take the same role in maintaining the balance of the body.

: The Characteristics of the Diaphragmatic Breathing

-The diaphragmatic breathing is to generate more energy than the abdominal breathing does for locomotion and intense activities that require frequent weight shifting.

-Inhaling through the mouth causes the instant reactions of the diaphragm to contract abdominal muscles.

-The increasing diaphragmatic contractions decrease the abdominal spaces, and the force generated by abdominal contractions stretches the whole body upward against gravity.  

-During exhalation, the vertically stretched body releases energy and becomes relaxed and bent forward down to the ground; this passive descending motion driven by the body weight generates additional kinetic energy regardless of the degree of velocity.

-The bouncing motions induced by the diaphragmatic breathing flow consecutively create and accumulate the kinetic energy, which keeps the body move.

+ The Characteristics of the Chest Breathing (Shallow Breathing)

-Breathing through the mouth to activate the diaphragm differs from the mouth breathing. The mouth breathing occurs when the abdominal muscle group related to respiration is incapable of producing enough power to control the diaphragm; therefore, the muscles in the chest, shoulders, and the neck are more engaged in respiratory movements than abdominal muscles to adjust the abdominal pressure regulating the motions of lungs. In other words, this abnormal breathing called the chest breathing or the thoracic breathing causes unnecessary tensions in the chest, shoulders, and the neck that restrict the organic movement flow. Thus, the abdominal muscles associated with the respiratory system remain loosened perpetually and eventually become incapable of regulating the breathing flow.  

: The Characteristics of the Abdominal Breathing

-The abdominal breathing is to relax and stabilize the body.

-The nasal breathing is naturally relevant to the abdominal breathing. Inhaling through the nose causes the lateral expansion of the abdomen; thus, the location of the center of mass stays below the waistline.

-While breathing abdominally, all body parts except the abdominal muscles associated with respiration can relax; because the diaphragm does not contract hard to expand the body. Therefore, the level of tension caused by the abdominal breathing is low compared to the diaphragmatic breathing produces in general.

-Exhaling through both the mouth and the nose at the same time is beneficial to release the air entirely from lungs, and to relax the facial muscles as well. During expiration, all body parts are naturally relaxed, including the facial muscles; hence, the mouth becomes open slightly. The compressed lips necessarily produce tensions transmitted to the face, the neck, and the shoulders; thus, it impedes the natural breathing flow.

-The nasal breathing can lead the diaphragmatic breathing if the abdominal muscles can contract hard enough with a limited supply of oxygen; this way of breathing takes practice based on a proper understanding of breathing mechanisms and thereby does not occur spontaneously in the natural state of the body unless it may end up with the chest breathing.