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!
I love working with horses and their humans. Most of what goes wrong with horse and their humans is not in the saddle. It happens on the ground. it happens in the stall. It happens on the way from one place to another. A lot of it has nothing to do with the horse at all. It has to do with things that are older and deeper that make their way into the relationship with the horse. It is rarely intentional or malicious. It often has to do with a lack of awareness, or regard, or attention or understanding.
Most often what I do starts with movement observation. I watch how the person moves around the horse, how the horse responds to them, to its environment, to the various parts of tacking up, leading, riding. I watch. And then bit by bit, I start to decode the dance. What is working? What is confusing? What is missing?
Much of what I do has to do with bringing both horse and human more fully into their bodies, and then more fully into connection with each other. That makes for a better relationship. And usually it makes for a better ride. Happier horse, happier human. I love that.
Spent another wonderful day at Little Brook Farm in Old Chatham working with the drill team and the lovely Mustang Amado and the brilliant Summer Brennan. If everything goes as well as it has been, we will perform with him at the Extreme Mustang Makeover event in August!
I am not a fan of anything extreme when it comes to horses, and I do not think that Mustangs need any kind of makeover. Nevertheless, watching Summer gentle this boy has been incredibly inspiring. Her work with him has been gradual, caring and smart.
Bringing dancers into this event may shake things up a bit! I hope so.
I took many, many pictures of Capprichio yesterday. He is a black stallion, a Baryshnikov among horses and the love of my horse life. He is also very equanimous about having his picture taken.
Some horses are not. Sanne, the Lily of Holland, Pam White’s big Friesian, is very cagey, wary and not especially cooperative. he is not exactly nervous, but he is an avoider (much like myself).
That brings me to another subject. After a certain age, I did not want my photo taken. I am more than a little embarrassed about this. I would like to be easier with it.
I got some significant help yesterday when I watched the film Breath Made Visible about the now ninety year old dancer and choreographer Anna Halprin. It is stunning. She is stunning. There is a glory in her that is so rare, so unabashed, so full that I just sat in silence for many moments after the film. (It is available on Netflix.)
What this has to do with for me (in part) is a willingness to be seen, to be witnessed, to be held in the attention of a single lens or a large audience. These are the waters that I am stepping into again now. At the end of the film, Halprin says that she wants her dances and her dancing to connect to something profound and shared. (I am paraphrasing badly.)
That is true for me as well. What I danced about before is not what I want to dance now. In the past I made beautiful, feral dances that were like a Chinese sliding block puzzle: you had to work hard to discover the order, the relationships and the meaning. Now I want to dance you into the eye of the storm and into my wild heart. I cannot wait to see what will happen.