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Paul Langland Dance

Fluid Revolutions, Streamlining Body Movements
by Leslee Jonhson

There are practical applications, too. Paul Langland, a master teacher at NYU's Experimental Theater Wing, uses fluid systems to help his students experience their bodies and access these different textures in performance.
He describes them as useful because they act as a "tool for accepting stillness, or high energy, or stretch, or delicacy, or effort", which is obviously very important for students in the performing arts as they gain a deeper understanding of their bodies. "The fluid systems", he states, " is a clarifying structure to understand different ways of moving".

For example, Langland might ask a student to perform a "cellular" character. Having experienced the nature of the cellular fluid in her own body, the student recalls a restful, stoic state of being and firm presence and applies this to her portrayal, deepening her character. In this way, the student uses her body to create her character from the inside out rather than relying on external stimulants.

The fluid systems can be applied across a spectrum of art forms; the swooping rise and fall of venous flow can be choreographed, as can the machine-like beat of the arterial fluid. A lymph-based character can be articulated through precise, specific gestures, such as pursuing the lips, or pinching a teacup, pinkie extended.
You can even paint a landscape with the qualities of cerebrospinal fluid by using light, ethereal colors and smooth, effortless brush strokes.

In his work with fluids systems, Langland says he's found "a new vocabulary with which to understand the body and access its full range of artistic flexibility".

But like anything else don't overdo it. There are negative extremes to each fluid in isolation: arterial flow can become driven if relied upon too heavily: synovial fluid becomes jittery; CSF becomes dazed: cellular fluid becomes apathetic, and lymph becomes dogmatic.

Nevertheless, experiencing and exploring the fluid systems represents a new way to connect the body's knowledge and facilitate health, well being, and creativity. Forget your conception of the body as a solid, material machine. By concentrating on the distinct flow of each fluid, you become closely attuned to the dynamic and interconnected nature of the body - and that's being healthier and more honest about the way your body moves.

Paul Langland is a choreographer, dancer, and teacher who for the last twenty-five years has been a part of many innovative developments in dance and performances including being a student and teacher of contact improvisation since its discovery in 1972.

Leslee Johnson, a freelance writer, is currently working on a novel.
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