An exploration of how emotion and state of mind affect body movement, and vice versa.
- Tom Toleno
- Kristin Horrigan
- Kate Tarlow Morgan, independent choreographer and author
The root of my Plan of Concentration is the interaction between the mind and the body. The Plan consists of four different pieces. Two are purely works of writing and research. The interactions between body and mind, grounded in psychological theory and movement practice, form both the overall direction of my Plan, and the focus of one of my research papers in particular. In my other research paper, I have simply chosen a focus on one possible relationship that exists between a particular kind of body and mind. The third component, my independent project, is a combination of practice leading group movement and written reflection on these experiences of mind and body. The last is a performance of works of choreography addressing the subject matter addressed in my papers: body-mind relationships, disability, body image, and embodied psychology.
Disability is a complex phenomenon, deeply influenced by biological, psychological, and societal factors. Body image, similarly, is constructed through a combination of biological, psychological, societal, and individual factors. In the process of researching this paper, it became clear that the topic of body image in disabled people has not been well explored. Books confine the complexity of disabled body image to a paragraph, or at most a few chapters. For the most part, putting together this paper has been a process of combining the information from several sources to form conclusions.
My Plan overall addressed topics of disability, body image, and dance, and any combinations therein. We didn’t always, or even usually, address these topics directly in our movement practices, but the participants all knew that that was where my interests lay. I made an effort to choose exercises that could be adapted to different ability levels. As a disabled dancer myself, this was important to me. I also made an effort to choose exercises that didn’t require a particular level of skill, since I want dance to be available for all, not just those who have had formal training. The kind of dance I’m interested in is adaptable to individual needs, and I often encouraged participants to move in their own way. I rarely told them to move a particular body part in a particular way. I tried to focus more on encouraging them to embody a feeling, or work towards a goal (such as using more space in their movement), and I tried to stress the importance of my participants’ own self-awareness and non-judgment. I encouraged them to notice what they were doing or feeling, and not to place a value assessment on how their movement looked, or compare it to what others were doing.
I know that my practice of moving, and leading movement, has changed drastically over this year, and I am grateful for every change. My movement may look the same, but that’s never been the point for me. The point is building an experience every time I move, the point is knowing my body, the point is trusting myself, the point is moving forward, so to speak. I’ve achieved all that and more.