[-empyre-] Butoh / slow motion / spell drive

Elisita Smailus elismailus at vtxmail.ch
Wed Oct 5 20:51:20 EST 2011

Touched by the memory of film excerpts and shared Butoh experience during the ICLA as Johannes Birringer puts them (in his last personal mail), I would like to share with the soft_skinned_empyre that,  from a decelerated point of view, my digestion of theoretical as well as practical input of one week in Austria is very slow, and I have the feeling, that I will be able to ponder on the richness of one week's experience a lot longer...

So in a way, it is nice to share aspects of this decelerated digestive reflection through a very media which allows accelerated forwarding and expanding it to a community unknown but yet (I assume) interested in the theme of deceleration/acceleration, celerity in its different variations.

Having had (former and recent) experiences of Butoh, I sometimes compare the slow moving with slow motion... What are the differences or the similarities? If you move in slow motion as a human being, it is very difficult to use the same speed all the time, there will be variations on the theme, so to say. That brings us to the question of rhythm, there will be little peaks of quicker moving in the slowness. But all in all, the slow moving one often sees in butoh, has brought me (not very often, but thus the more profoundly) in a sort of trance-like state, even having the effect of transcending imagination of who am I as a person or could have been as a person. These experiences are difficult to describe in words, but they are very potent in widening awareness on a metaphysical level. Moving slow to me has a very meditative component and - combined with the awareness of organic breathing - allows me to calm down in hurried times and internally withdraw from to much external input, still being very present. For me that is a challenge.

In the Laban/Bartenieff-Movement Analysis the specific work on the quality or dynamics of movement comprise four motion factors also called "effort factors" which exist essentially in complementary contrast ranging from one pole to the other in intensity, having a more "indulging" quality on the one hand and a more "fighting" quality on the other. This may be experienced corporeally - to enrich the meaning of the words beyond the mere thought. Importance is given to an inner attitude towards these motion or "effort" factors (time, weight, space and flow). With these four factors having two (polar) elements each, we can start moving into the field of mathematics (in movement) combing them to get quite a range of moving "states and drives", as they are called within this movement framework. These elements have two components, the subjective (inner) felt and objective (outer) expressed, as well as a crescendo or diminuendo trying to find dynamic rhythm and balance in an expressive bodyin movement.

A combination of three factors is called drive, and the so-called spell drive (various combinations of weight, space, flow-elements) is missing time as an active inner attitude, which means that one tries to move timelessly, i.e. as little time changes (accelerations/decelerations) as possible. If the time factor does come in, then use the indulging in time, decelerating even more: it may give you short moments of fully enchanted moving to recuperate in times of stress.... just try it out!

Best regards,
Elisita Smailus
Via Campagna
CH-6927 Agra
Tel. 0041(0)91/980.36.11


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