Henry Holmes responds to Chris Aiken’s intensive and Lightning Talk at Velocity’s 2013 Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation (SFDI)
Conventional wisdom accounts for kinesthesia–the body’s innate sense of its own form–by the geometrical measure of joints in space. As a rudimentary interpretation, we triangulate points in space (wrist, elbow, shoulder) and fill in the betweens by an intuition of our limbs’ dimensions. We are a sum of ends, the wisdom says; terminations of our neural network describe an aggregate motion-capture-suit surface of bright dots that our body synthesizes into its sense of position. For decades this model has sufficed to describe the way we know of our feet without looking at them or the existence of our hand behind our ear, but recent research into the nature of fascia suggests a sensory experience that is dramatically less sparse and conversely as dynamic.
Chris Aiken’s research, on the heels of contact improvisation pioneers Nancy Stark Smith and Steve Paxton, rushes balanced but headlong into that unknowing gap twixt imagination and perception where attention to action dances so close to its own image that it’s hard to distinguish which is which. Aiken dances in a world where we are plastic, ever changing, and our reaction is no more an agent of that change than our intention thereto. In the landscape of movement practice, our presence of body in this endless moment shapes the actual horizons of our form. Here are excitement, resolution, submission, grace; the landmarks of a life lived by the pedagogy of the present. We are as much imagined as our world.
Image by Tim Summers