Today, Saturday, was our second day of class. I had a nasty cold and decided to sit and observe the class session and I asked Nandini to observe for the first portion of the class, which she did. She rejoined the class for the second half and Rodrigo stepped out of learning the dance because he was ill. Instead he observed, took notes and photos of the second half of class.
Students now know to come on time (mostly), to bring water and to start to warm up their bodies without being told to do so. That was a marked difference from yesterday — the stage is becoming a familiar space. Aakash did what he always does – he begins from his computer and intently seems to scroll through his music selection. He finally chooses a very welcoming low tempo song – I “Shazam” the tune and find out the title of the warm up music is “Mad World” by Michael Andres Feat and Gary Jules. I like the music. It’s welcoming and doesn’t seem overwhelming. It reminds me of smooth jazz.
I researched the title of the music because what was prevalent in my mind was the question, “what is the function of the music in the warm up?” Like the way in which gestures might tell us something else when we communicate with speech, the music seems to relax and invite us to participate — it makes us comfortable with the situation.
Everyone places her or himself in a loose circle and we begin to warm up. First the shoulders only, rolling them, then next more of the body follows, the knees bend deeper and we roll through the torso, our core. We begin to flex more deeply, bowing down and then moving from side to side. Aakash calls this “finding the wave.” He invites us to sway with our bodies, but then add in different hand tempos. Is this a warm up for thinking how our bodies can do two or three different movements simultaneously? Does this “warm up” wake us up to that intention?
We no longer stand in place but start moving on the stage, feeling permission to expand our presence and move beside and through one another. I think my notes say “hello feet?” Did he say that as we discover how our feet take us through more of the space of the stage? Aakash leads us in a “wave greeting” and he calls it a “disco wave.” Students laugh. It seems as if that is a shared cultural reference which everyone knows how to do in their own mind.
Then Aakash shows a full body wave with hips. Apparently hips can wave – not the same as hands – but with a similar intention.
Ty Ty comes in at 9:17. Late.
The music changes and Aakash commences the eight beat movement sequence we learned yesterday. Students become dancers – they know how to put themselves in position for the opening move that is a swift chopping motion which then pulls and opens with arm expansion into a standing backbend. But this time Aakash tells us to put more intention, grace and resistance into the backbend, it looks like he allows us to slow it down and feel one’s body opening up energy almost gratefully. How does he say this? He doesn’t characterize it as I do. Instead he calls out attention to different parts of the body. He says “ribs” “intercostals” “toes” “fingers” “eyes” “cheeks.” He says “stop and find space.” People respond. It is very different than a meditation where an instructor says to bring attention to body parts an that remain unseen from the observer’s perspective. Here, you can really see it. Then, that intention is applied to the disco wave – and Aakash tells us to think of the wave as resistance. Resistance seems to be a big theme today. He says to take the wave slower. When that happens, intention changes. Which is a funny causation. Most often I think of intention happening first — “I intend to resist.” Instead, the intention manifests from the movement executed. He tells everyone “don’t think about it, feel it.” I think the students respond. People seem invested. Then he uses viscious imagery and the student’s movement responds to those images. “Move like it’s water.” “Move like it’s honey.” “Move like it’s tar.”
Then we learn the turn on the floor. How to move our hands like a windmill, How to keep knees flexible. Today seems less about how to do the steps than how to move through an entire sequence with intention, resistance and energy.
We learn a pivot. Left leg folds , slide to kneel. Go down. Now he talks about the “false arch” — how it looks like we balance on the side of the foot but really put the weight elsewhere so it looks far more precarious and interesting than it is to stand in the pose. To accomplish this you have to “think opposite.”
Aakash tells us that “oppositions create a force.” They take the weight to a different place. Then we go through the sweeping movement on the floor. We are told to feel the space around us. Right hand draws a circle over the head and after is used to push the body up.
Students do the movement and then Aakash steps out to watch. He says he does so “so I can learn from you.” After watching it happen a few times he observes that when you are spread on the floor and doing the hand sweep, it is a motion that “gives up in order to get back” meaning it releases and then gathers momentum.
He then talks about the importance of breath and breathing. When executing the circle, the breath is an inhale. At the completion and rise, the breath is a hard exhale. Then he tells us to make the sequence “like one breath.”
I am fascinated with the image of a false arch. I also wonder why yesterday and today, the same people migrate to the back of the stage. Do they do so because they don’t want to be seen or are they using the people in front to follow? Today Ty Ty sometimes almost disappears into the curtain in the wings. That draws my attention to her – but I think she intends the opposite.
Aakash askes “what is holding you back in the sequence?” People reply “the pivot.”
The end – where the whole sequence is done – half of the people first and the second half after – again and again – the focus is now on fluidity. The intensity of delivery, not the proper execution of the steps. People are asked to stay connected.
This session was very absorbing to watch.