Working with(out) armour: transforming (motoric, emotional, ideological) blindness — Koen Vanbiesbrouck

The T&P Spectrum for this workshop is: ,

the armour of Henry VIII, seen in LondonWe are álways ‘connected’ and ‘whole’ – that’s one of the basic premises of my frame of reference. ‘Being-related-to-the-whole’ is what I think fundamentally our existence is about.

Still we often have the idea of being disconnected and/or we actively or unconsciously disconnect ourselves (from ourselves and/or our environment). Our body tells this lifelong story (‘embodies’ this process) of dis- and reconnecting, forming, de-constructing and reforming. ‘Armour’ is a metaphor to grasp this idea of different ways of defending against our fundamental ‘wholeness’ and openness. It starts with our cells (with more or less space to develop), and shows itself in (openly loving or ‘armoured’) behaviour.

I propose exercises to dive into this ‘hidden’ (but visible) and mainly unconscious story of ourselves, our ‘body memory’, the body that we ‘are’ (in stead of ‘have’).

There are several ways to do this: by exploring breathing, body segments (or even individual muscles), the body-as-a-whole, emotions or ‘character structures’ (and their constitutive environment). (But whatever the ‘access point’: it all comes down to the same thing…)

I call this process ‘phenomenological’ as it transcends the distinctions/categories we commonly like to make (subject/object, body/mind, nature/culture, physical/biological/psychological/cognitive/sociological/ecological/spiritual…). Of course, I use them (as I use language), but to point to what in principle cannot be divided: our aliveness, our experience and its embodiment, that is an ongoing process of ‘contracting’ and creating our environment.

This praxis has a therapeutic (one more label…) dimension, but I do not wish to call it therapeutic as such. For the sake of curiosity, belonging and pure celebration: it is fun to get clearer about ourselves, our feelings and needs, and the way we embody them.

And as far as we’re dancers: I’ve always been wondering what ‘artistic’ dance might become if we would allow ourselves to let our bodies ‘talk’ the way they are (with its vulnerability, its past and present pains and ecstasies) in stead of imposing our own or borrowed schemes and expectations upon it.

Read Koen Vanbiesbrouck’s biography