Sensing and feeling the mid-line can be a challenge when most of us feel out of kilter and out of balance a lot of the time. A couple weeks ago my lovely Amadeo had a nice big buck while I was riding. I was feeling fragile emotionally, and so not quick enough to come up out of the saddle to protect myself. The result: a coccyx sprain. I walked around feeling rotated, disconnected and fragmented until my next osteopathy appointment. It was frustrating and interesting to feel that off my mid-line. Andy Goldman, my osteopath, encouraged me to ride my mid-line in sync with the mid-line of the horse. So on my next ride, I paid attention to my newly centered tailbone, feeling it connect to the horse’s tail, and sending my energy up my spine through the center of the occipital ridge while seeing/feeling the horse’s poll.
The result was a surprising deliciousness and sense of connection and balance in the ride. I also noticed that Deo’s crookedness tracking right was connected to the way I close the space between my right shoulder and sternum (shifting my mid-line too far to the left), effectively closing the door to his ability to open to the right! When I opened that space, with a feeling of widening and softening, he began to straighten and soften!
Then today, while coaching a performer (the lovely Sari Max), I asked her to notice her mid-line with a couple somatic exercises of moving away from and then back onto a centered mid-line. Then I asked her to move from lying down to standing pausing along the way to look at where her mid-line was in that moment, The result was that her movement from floor to standing was beautifully effortless and grounded. Then we took that same sense of mid-line into the text of the play, connecting a physical sense of center and balance to the emotional through-line of each line. The result was a deeper authenticity and groundedness in the language and movement. Brilliant and transformational!
Went to see Kafka’s Monkey starring Kathryn Hunter at the Baryshnikov Center on Saturday. I was blown away by the physicality, the transformation, the script, the concept – the whole brilliant bouquet. If you have a chance to see it, don’t miss it! Read the NY Times review here.
Sometime during the rehearsal I felt it happen. I did a sudden snapping movement with my leg and my knee hyperextended. I stopped and looked at it. “That’s not good,” I thought. It didn’t hurt, so I kept going.
It wasnt good. I ripped both the lateral and medial meniscus and popped a big cyst out the back of the joint capsule. My knee doesn’t bend. I can’t climb stairs. One of my dancers watched the performance of my solo and said she wished I had included some movement on the floor. I said that I would do that as soon as I could bend my knee.
My osteopath looked at me yesterday and said, “You are being tested.” What is being tested? My patience, my endurance, my resourcefulness, my tolerance. And more.
In my studio, I tried doing some of the movement. I noticed that I initiate much of my movement with quickness, which at the moment is unsafe for my poor knee. Quickness is my “lane,” my “wheelhouse” in the language of American idol. It is how I get my body places that it otherwise doesn’t know how to go.
The point of all this is that I have to find some new ways of moving while I am healing. Linda Tellington-Jones always says “isn’t that interesting” when she encounters something problematic in a horse she is working with. I am looking for that attitude – curiosity instead of frustration, willingness instead of fear. Learning to try new things, looking for other ways of seeing and doing. Being improvisational. Not waiting for the end point, but being in the journey, one step at a time.