Dreaming into 3 Billion Years

Over the last year I have become increasingly interested in our evolutionary heritage or more specifically how our body-mind being is an expression of  evolutionary processes and heritage. I’m  deeply curious to investigate what this means in embodied practice as a dancer, performance maker and as a human being walking the planet.

Through CI I’ve touched on elements of  embryology, evolutionary movement, developmental movement and BMC in the past and had planned an R&D project to take these enquiries further but  didn’t get funding.  So for the moment the investigation has begun in a more haphazard way: trips to the aquarium, visits to museums to view the fossil record and time in the studio doing exercises from the brilliant “How Life Moves” (Caryn McHose and Kevin Frank).

I’ve been concerned that  limited time for reading is a problem but it has actually led me to reflect on where theoretical knowledge and experiential knowing intersect. I can mentally absorb something about a stage of evolution but it is not the same as having my face 12 inches from 250 million year old fossilised bones,  feeling the articulations of a joint or sensing the weight and volume of meat/muscle that would attach to a bone. Somehow the movement potential of a skeletal structure can be felt as though it vibrates through my bones.  Standing within feet of a million gallons of water at the aquarium exerts a kind of tidal tug to a life aquatic – the movement of creatures evoking a deep felt memory of flow and both a comforting and disquieting sense of our ancestry – a bodily empathy with the life forms from which we evolved. These are body states which “knowledge” alone does not release, they are awakened through immersion, tuning and dreaming into the sensory field, into the 3 billion years of evolution woven in our DNA.

Ultimately I want to take this work into performance making. It feels entirely coherent to me that it can marry with the imagistic provocations of Butoh or can be more intentionally present as a layer of presence in improvising.

I came across a passage in Stephen Nachmanovitch’s book “Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art” :

“Our body mind is a highly organized and structured affair, interconnected as only a natural organism can be that has evolved over hundreds of millions of years. An improviser does not operate from a formless vacuum, but from 3 billions years of organic evolution; all that we were is encoded somewhere in us. Beyond that vast history we have even more to draw upon: the dialogue with the Self – a dialogue not only with the past but with the future, the environment and the divine within us. As our playing, writing, speaking, drawing, or dancing unfolds, the inner, unconscious logic of our being begins to show through and mold the material. This rich, deep patterning is the original nature that impresses itself like a seal upon everything we do or are.”

Watch this space!

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