Sunday, 23 December 2012

1. Interplay of emotions/motivations/limitations within the decision-making process

The interplay of emotions (or motivations/limitations) that occurs within the decision-making process is significant and various approaches to producing movement material using this interplay produce choreographically interesting material e.g.
-          Pelvis moving (or being moved) forward, head moving backwards
-          Feet trying to move forwards (this comes from the activity of ‘hauling’ which occurs in the stimulus story Fly: “he hauled himself up to the top of the cliff”), pelvis shifts forward when the feet begin to stall, head keeps moving away
-          Finding the place where ambition is situated in the body and similarly, the place where doubt is situated and exploring the way in which ambition can drive us forward and doubt can take us back

It is important to remember:
-          ambition and doubt are 2 of many possible motivation/limitations and everyone experiences them differently (including experiencing them in a different place in the body); through discussing these motivations/limitations we can build a more specific picture of how they look and feel and their impact on the body e.g. ‘ambition’ or something like it is more direct, more open, can be a whole body experience which wraps around some people like a cloak or fills the ‘bowl’ of the pelvis, may lift the focus, is unlimited by space and therefore doesn’t finish; ‘doubt’ or something similar is indirect, disjointed (perhaps as a result of responding to too many options?), manifesting itself in the shaking of the head or an inwards spiral, something private and therefore more closed than ambition, situated for some people to the side of the head or behind the eyes
-          where we do experience doubt, we have discovered that doubt always seems to override any other impulses, no matter how insignificant that doubt might seem – we can be 99% certain, and the 1% of uncertainty could still prevent us from jumping, even from getting to the edge of the cliff
-          where we feel 50% doubt and 50% ambition, this can lead to a kind of inertia, neither moving forward or backward in space (but still moving: choreographically, I am interested in documenting this 'small dance' on film, as the film medium enables us to focus in on small details)
-          other motivations or motivating behaviours include resignation, faith, not considering the consequences
-          other limitations include fear (which we described as getting stronger as we get older)
-          to be open to the unexpected e.g. 2 or more initiation points may impact in an unexpected way on each other e.g. we discovered that sometimes moving the ‘ambition’ and ‘doubt’ initiation points towards each other produces an overall feeling of uncertainty, whereas moving them away from each other feel more open and therefore empowering (we can also emphasise these experiences through use of rhythm i.e. indecision or doubt has a more fidgety, staccato rhythm and is more indirect in terms of its pathway; ambition is expansive and sustained and more direct)
-          individuals can experience different proportions of different intentions at different times: we have tried to map this for our journey towards the point of making a decision, which depends very much on the context of the decision (I talked in my last blog about this journey map or ‘story board’ of events; more recently, I have been made aware of the potential correlation between this idea and the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change, following informal discussions with Dr Kate Hefferon and Siri Steinmo)

Kate and Siri have also shared with me some information about Embodied Cognition, which suggests that all aspects of cognition are shaped by aspects of the body, or the way in which we behave in response to certain situations is informed by the body as much as it is informed by the brain. Based on our workshops over the past 2 weeks, this notion makes sense to me, and often the dancers express their experience of ‘flow’ in terms of responding physically, without thinking about it: e.g. “it’s nice to get to the place where you don’t have to think about it”, “not even considering what’s going to happen”. This focus on the physical experience means that the dancers are not necessarily able to identify moments of ‘flow’ within the workshops, but what they tell me about their experiences indicates that they have experienced flow. Or, the dancers feel that they have enjoyed what they have done, but can’t necessarily pinpoint why. So, it seems they find flow easier to identify when they are not mindful of the fact that they are identifying it. This links for me with what Csikszentmihalyi  describes as “the self expand[ing] through acts of self-forgetfulness”. Elsewhere, Stephen Mumford also writes about this and De Manzano, Theorell, Harmat and Ullen (2010) describe that a flow state is characterised by "effortless attention", or a "subjective experience of heightened, unforced concentration", which might seem to be a contradiction in terms given how hard we often have to try in order to concentrate on what we are doing.

I think the idea of Embodied Cognition has implications for the way in which I set up movement tasks within the choreographic process, and it could be useful in terms of enabling the dancers to access flow to emphasise the physicality of their response before we enter into a discussion about what that response means, and therefore begin to intellectualise it.

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