|Brendan: A keystone of Allan's work is the concept of circular movement. For example, I could do a large, circular, wave-like undulation through the entire torso, or a smaller circle precisely moving the point where the clavicles meet the sternum. Whether I'm moving my entire body through space, or just one isolated area, full body presence is always involved.
Paul: Right. That clarity and inner connectedness is what Allan called "movement going through the body."
Brendan: Allan wrote that any joint in the body is a "field of action." Regarding this idea, you said that actually ANY body system could be a "field of action" - not just muscles, bones, or joints. Fascia, skin, nerves, cerebrospinal fluid, breath, imagery - all of these can be fields of action to investigate. Can you explain this?
Most movement studies are focused on the musculoskeletal system; therefore, mobility is understood in terms of that system. However, movement techniques have expanded recently to include appreciation of other subtle energies and structures in the body such as the ones you mention above.
Allan always talked about muscles, bones, and breath: those were his metaphors for how to access somatic data. Allan might carefully tire a large muscle group, causing shaking and quivering. I think we were transitioning to nervous system use there, even though he used musculoskeletal terms. I believe he was also working with fascial release, organs, and cerebrospinal fluid. Since those systems weren't "codified" yet, there was no way to talk about them at that time. Now there is, and I see connections between what he was doing and studies like Rolfing, Craniosacral unwinding, and Continuum. Although he didn't address these systems consciously; nonetheless, I think he was working with them. The interface of Allan Wayne Work and other body systems has given me a continual resource for finding new teaching and dancing material.
Brendan: Let's talk about the importance of body-isolations in Allan's work. For example, you might begin an undulation through the back at a 90-degree angle, then begin making
|circumductions with the shoulders, then add treading in place with the feet, then rotate the head, then move the jaw left to right, maybe changing the quality of breath from long deep sighs to very rapid panting, accumulating all of these movements together, on and on. How does this benefit the body?
Superficially, this aspect of his work looks like complete lunacy (laughs). However, the key is to get the different body isolations working harmoniously with each other. Freedom, flexibility, and efficiency increase through this coordinated task. It's a self-kinetic education, and great for proprioceptive ability.
Brendan: Our duet, Almost Raptpure, built a choreographic world based on Allan's work. What issues came up for you as a dancer and former student of his? How was it similar or different from Circa 1950-51, the piece you did with Le Schaetzel?
When I was working with Le in 1984, it was in the early days of my teaching this work. Le was starting to teach at the same time. Because Circa 1950-51 was a first venture into Allan Wayne-based choreograhy for us, it was not as refined as the work I did with you 12 years later. However, it was foundational.
After you graduated from ETW and approached me to continue training in Allan's work, I got interested again in the idea of specifically pursuing the notion of using a classical approach to dancing - "classical" meaning classical modern - in a post-modern context. Oddly, I later realized that the piece we came up with was post-modern in both structure and technique.
I hate the work "post-modern"; perhaps "baroque" is a better word. Anyway, Allan's work feels post-modern because of its emphasis on experiential movement, personal discovery, and improvisation. People who saw Almost Rapture said they saw something unique and valuable in the dancing. That was gratifying.