A Human Movement
Thursday, April 07, 2005

She gets it. 'Yo' is spending the day with the thought and ideas of Doris Humphrey, seminal figure in the history of modern dance. Her name often falls along side a Martha Graham, as both were of the same generation of students at Denishawn. Hah. Allow me to cut to the chase, so you can stare at this picture some more, and freely so, it's quite unreal (and, I might add goes most nicely with a heavy dose of Slowdive.)

Nonetheless, I want to call to attention the theory of Humphrey, which was so important to her work and legacy. In her 1958/9 book 'The Art of Making Dances,' Humphrey lays out in words, what before went unsaid, a theory of modern dance. You'll often find the expression "fall and recovery" used in association with Humphrey, as she thought that dance was found in that moment between tension and relaxation in the human. You know you've seen this sort of thing before, when the dancers tighten up and then stretch out from one movement to the next. Humphrey called this 'in between state' "the arc between two deaths." Very nice. It reminds me of guitar strumming, as the sound that comes alive, does so between the upstroke and downstroke of the hand, wrist and arm. Apparently, there is a chance that Humphrey was not only refering to muscles in the body with her idea of "the arc between two deaths." There is a possibility that she also meant it to describe the deeper mental states involved in the dancer, in a meditative state of being. With ration and logic paired on the one side in tension, and imagination and chaos on the other side with emotion and relaxation. If this is so, then "the arc between two deaths" is an idea which for me, is a lot "more" then a theoretical dance instruction. It is a statement on how to live correctly, on where to posit one's life center. Perhaps America's best philosophers in the 20th Century were dancers? Ok, back to the picture. Thank you,developing.

Added April 8th, it turns out that Humphrey was a descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, so was especially close to the 'over-soul,' double-developing!
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