If It's Heavy, Shall i Drop It?
Updated: Oct 6
Release is one of my favourite techniques of Contemporary dance because it has at its core a sense of finding the organic, easy-flowing movement, which, for me, means also finding the raw and authentic. Movement is framed within the idea of allowing things to happen (to flow) and utilising the weight of what happens to make, to explore, to find. Funny enough, you get to find yourself, your limits and whether you are willing to break them, as you enter a loose but inevitable structure with effortless but intentional playfulness.
Weight-triggered motion and suspended transitions, naturally fed speed as you roll on the floor using the physics of your own weight and its movement effectivity… it feels good, it allows for subtle yet big variations and decisions as you play and you test how far you can tilt before falling… it’s fun. It requires little and at the same time a lot of control. I’ll correct myself. It requires a lot of discipline to let go of control without completely loosing yourself. You need to release, as the word says, your limbs, head, all of it except for your core, your centre, the one point that needs to be active non-stop to be able to pull you back up and get you back to balance after every swing, tilt, throw, like a string holding you from above. Discipline to trust and not get in the way with your muscle strength instead of your breath and the momentum created by organic dynamics; discipline to allow yourself to fall, because only when you fall you have reached your limit; discipline to be ok to find a different nuance and be led slightly differently with each execution. It’s a discipline that doesn’t feel like one. It’s a discipline that works with variables, with accepting and making the most of options, of understanding that for something to be organic, it needs to be alive. And for something to be alive, life, play needs to be fuelled and not only allowed.
I am not always brave to pursue that degree of playfulness and trust, [...] but it is the one thing that motivates me and helps me when working with this principle. To be able and to be required to play.
To be honest, I don’t know if the technique of release fully endorses all of what I’ve mentioned above but that is what I saw and was mesmerised by and interested in learning as I watched my teachers (most notably Melanie Venino) play, JUGAR, in the studio during my training years.
If it’s heavy, shall I drop it?
Allowing the weight to fall sounds probably quite unappealing. Dull. Because what happens next? Does anything happen at all? But a weight will only fall and stay still on the spot, killing all possibility of movement, when the drop is perfectly vertical, the surface is perfectly even and the subject falling is perfectly symmetrical. Rarely all of those happen to be at the same time in real life unless in a so-prepared experiment and, certainly, it is not what our bodies are like and how they interact with the space. Therefore, when the weight drops, allow the little or much momentum to carry you forwards (or backwards, or sideways), release your control over it, allow it and let it carry you. The only thing required is that you are available to take and pass on the energy, the momentum, to shape that fall and roll into something that you can enjoy. It may feel soft and kind, to turn into surprising and out of control. Let it tilt you, let it soften you, let it feed you as you make your choices to twist, to allow, to enhance, to fall, even.
Allowing the weight to fall sounds probably quite unappealing. Dull. Because what happens next?
I am not always brave to pursue that degree of playfulness and trust, and sometimes that also comes with practice but it is the one thing that motivates me and helps me when working with this principle. To be able and to be required to play.
* * *
The thought of having to execute something perfectly and the same each time triggers laziness in me more than motivation, possibly because I know I won’t be able to get to that perfection, and if I don’t, where does that leave me? But maybe it is the understanding that doing something to that degree of predictability kills the fun, kills the play and with that, the essence of it altogether. Where’s the organic element of it, where is the risk, the being led and the decision making?
Equally, I don’t like memorising things and executing from memory, and I’m not good at it anyway. At school I could only learn maths and physics formulae if I had made up a story to understand and formulate them.
Understanding what to do to find something over and over is how I can get there. And it is no longer about reproducing something perfectly, but about the intention with which you approach it. Understanding the principle of weight and drag, releasing and allowing, and how your input is the willingness to play, to engage in however degree you are able to at that specific moment and with however much you can bring to the table, genuinely, is not lazy. It’s honest and it is how I find you can best craft motion, movement from a peaceful quiet place of effortlessness and a full intention of engaging with something. That is what release technique means to me.
And, very much like my still very first love in dance, hip hop and all of the styles within it. Organic, raw, effortless, intricate and a joy-full connection to the music. Meaning, a 100% intention to engage in the moment as much as to be led, moved by it.
The thought of having to execute something perfectly and the same each time triggers laziness in me more than motivation, possibly because I know I won’t be able to get to that perfection, and where does that leave me? But maybe it is that doing something to that degree of predictability kills the fun, [...] where is the risk and the decision making?
If it’s heavy, drop it and allow it to move you with it.
Work In Progress - piece num. 3 (improv based dialogue)