A heart-based (body) connection feels nicer than being handled.
What and why
We use our hands throughout the day to accomplish most of what we want to do. So when we start dancing, it's natural to use our hands to make things happen. But our partner will feel manipulated (from the Latin word manus, for “hand”) and handled.
By skillfully using our hand-arms, not as independent actors, but as quiet, resilient links to our bodies, we comfortably “speak” to our partnership with our body.
- The body moves more slowly, making it easier to understand when used clearly.
- The body is more powerful, but at the same time quieter and slower, so it can be more clear and more comfortable.
- We gain a sense of the whole person.
- We don't want to move our partner with our connections to them. That feels like forcing our will on another person. Instead, we would like them to move themselves at the invitation they feel through their connection to our body.
Video and transcript
Can we explore connection without a partner? Try this, grasp some immovable object—refrigerator, end of a counter, the side of a door frame—with both hands. Don't allow the arms or hands to move, but try to move the object with your whole body and its connection to the floor. Do we feel how it causes our whole body to become energized and firm. Everything feels solid. Now this time, we try moving the object with only our hands and arms. Really different, right? Our body feels disconnected and unstable, with little power.
End this exploration with the whole body, arms connected to torso connected to legs connected to floor. This is the connection feeling we want with a partner.
- The Connecting partner places their hands at the sides of their partner's shoulders (on the deltoid muscles). Initially, keep all hand-arm joints loose. Hold only enough tension anywhere to keep the hands in place. At first, our torso stays still, not moving; only the hand-arms flex in and out.
- Moving partner twists torso back and forth at some comfortable rate.
- Connecting partner gradually increases the structure (sometimes called tone) of hands-arms-torso. Torso begins to match the movements of the Moving partner. Now the only active hinge point should be at the shoulders.
- Finally, the Moving partner becomes passive, moved only by the body and linked hand-arms of the Connecting partner.
If we allow the structure to become too rigid, it first becomes uncomfortable and even blocks movement.
One might play with variables, such as only creating a structure on one side. Try shifting the structure level up and down in side-to-side opposition.
As usual, switch roles and repeat the exploration.
Hand-lead unpleasantness exploration
- The Connecting partner removes their hands from the Moving partner's shoulders.
- The Moving partner grasps the Connecting partner's hands. (We don't want to do this while holding the other partner's shoulders because it is unpleasant to be handled that way. The arms can dampen what happens in the hands.)
- The Moving partner, using only their arms, disconnected from their own body, moves their partner's hands back-and-forth, side-to-side, and so on.
- The Moving partner, structuring their hand-arm-body connection, may now directly connect with their partner's shoulders.
And switch roles to repeat the explorations.
Finally: We like our parting experience to be a pleasant one. Let's embrace ourself, or a partner, and simply, quietly shift our weight together. Are we finished? Really? Oh, okay…