The Emptiness Compass I have been referring to in some previous newsletter is comprised of 12 paired words. These paired words when used together are designed to help keep a participants and students focused on an exercise / task at hand to ensure they are remaining in process rather than a product or outcome driven mode. My musings for this week’s newsletter bring me to one set of those paired words: Versatility and Adaptability So, what do I mean by these words and what am I hoping a participant will gain by focusing on these two words?
These words have been a strong part of my life and indirectly my career. They are a reflection of my upbringing. From my first years at school I was, or rather my family was always moving from town to town. In fact, by the age of thirteen I had been to seven schools, and on one occasion I had returned to the same school on three times.
By the completion of my school years I had attended nine schools. The shortest length of time I spent at one school was six weeks. In the early years of my life my father was an advisory teacher (in the early 70’s) which meant - wherever he went... we all went! Not until the age of about 14 did my family finally stop in the one location and I was able to finish my education with some consistency.
My early years in life are ones of constant change. So in order to fit in quickly and smoothly I had to become versatile and adaptable. In recent years, I have come to realise that these early days of my development informed my approach to life and career. That is to say that I have subconsciously always sort to become adaptable and versatile at tackling my career and obstacles as they arise in my life. I believed it was important to understand these two elements of my ‘make-up’, versatility and adaptability; as it has informed my development as well as fuelled my curiosity towards every aspect of my performance career.
So how have these words informed my movement work to be more specific and why are they in my ‘emptiness compass’?
In simple terms we can strive to maintain consistency with any given choreography or movement sequence we are presented with and or have to perform in a repeated fashion. But regardless of rehearsals or the performance of any sequence the reality is that no matter how hard we try there are micro and macro differences happening and or going to happen.
Our bodies are no robots. We need to be open to the small shifts and big shifts that will inevitably happen. These shifts could be conscious, unconscious or by accident. They could be in the form of incorrect body placement, prop failure or the environment around us undermining us! These shifts could be; for example as a simply be a hand being placed palm up or palm down through to larger scale shifts happening; for example where a sword breaks. Either way if we are not adaptable or versatile in our training we will certainly not be in performance mode when things go ‘wrong’.
Maybe if we can train in a way that reflects the real world outcomes which allows for mistakes or differences to occur then maybe we are less likely to be thrown when it happens in performance. Just a thought...