Chrissy Nelson is a dance artist, physical therapist, and movement educator. She has taught at CI IA, EarthDance, and the Texas Dance Improvisation Festival, and is an Artist in Residence at CU-Boulder. Chrissy also directs The Field | Boulder, collaborates frequently with sound and visual artists, and has performed original works in PA, NY and CO.
As a dance artist and physical therapist, I had been grappling with a way to integrate somatics into my teaching practice in the university setting. For many years in our collective dance training, there has been an intense focus on the position of limbs or the spatial pattern of the choreographed movement. During my graduate studies, I began desiring a deeper connection to movement, wondering where and who the human was who was making it? And, where was this movement really coming from? Somatics seemed to be one way to bring attention to the whole person, yet somatics were still offered as a supplement to traditional dance training.
Then in 2011, I read about Jane Hawley and her profound research of Movement Fundamentals, and I became more clear on how to infuse somatics into dance, and dance into life. Currently at CU-Boulder, I am teaching the major’s contemporary technique class, and driving the class forward from the body, which is essentially what Movement Fundamentals does. We are asking the questions derived from the 4 Phases: How do we begin? What is needed? What am I looking for? Why is this important? Through improvisation and somatic integration, the students are considering the depths of their own bodies, the implications of their bodies with another, and the agency of their bodies through the space they occupy in the studio, the campus, and the larger community.
Using movement research based on MF tenets, we are creating a safe space for students to use this agency as dance artists to create their own questions. Students are wondering, “[what is] the morality of all of the abstraction I embody through dance as a person of social privilege, and I am curious about how to recognize and amend this injustice in a form that is so largely involved with abstract concepts.” Through our work this semester, that also employs all 6 Movement Fundamentals’ paired principles, we can embody alignment, function, range and efficiency to explore how the students align, function, and efficiently and effectively engage with our layered societal issues related to privilege and power, to name just a few. The class then begins to breathe outside of the walls that contain us. MF has offered us a new perspective of dance. And a new perspective of being.
Place: Boulder, CO