During our most recent Skype conversation, we discussed the challenges associated with transcribing dance, particularly when trying to choreograph a scientific concept. Once a topic has been decided, a route many take is drawing stick figures and scribbling short descriptions underneath. Yet, as Michael pointed out, terminology matters. That is, it’s important to select words that makes sense to you, especially when describing scientific imagery along with non-scientific imagery.
So, when considering hydrogen protons, their ability to spin around an axis reminds me of “little planets.” Like earth, these “little planets” each have their own magnetic field, because a moving electrical charge (i.e., a proton) is an electric charge, which induces a magnetic field. To describe this behavior using non-scientific imagery, the following come to mind: “random,” “flexible,” “freedom,” and “almost playful.”
However, when exposed to an external magnetic field (i.e., MRI machine), these protons will align parallel or anti-parallel in the direction of the external field. These two types of alignment are on different energy levels: parallel requires less energy and is the preferred state, while anti-parallel demands more energy. It’s similar to walking (or dancing) on your feet versus walking (or dancing while) on your hands - they are both are on different energy levels, because walking (or dancing while) on your hands requires much more effort. Non-scientific phrases to describe this phenomenon include: “stillness,” “need for structure,” “order,” and “desire for perfection.”
This is interesting to consider - while dancers crave for flexibility and the creative freedom to move as they please, under certain (strict) conditions, remembering to be still and to only move in a linear fashion can be just as desired. Hence, the need for perfection carries as much value as the desire for playfulness.
(The images below are of my notes from my Skype meeting with Kate and Michael, and the pose shown by the dancer is a reflection of this balance between stillness and creative freedom.)
I spent some time down South visiting my family, and the nature in the backyard overtook my imagination for a spell in between thoughts on choreography, color theory, and conceptual presentation techniques. There was a young doe, and then many, blue jays, and a woodpecker, unseen birds too, and chipmunks and squirrels. All taking their respective turns in what may have appeared to be the chain of nutritious events.
I first spotted the deer in the crook of two fences, where our old swing set used to be. I suppose she felt safe there, because after that I noticed her back left leg was injured. She ate with a seemingly joyous fervor, but a keen eye and outwardly turned ears towards unseen trouble.There was a veritable city outside this old Bay Window, as I sat stock-still.
Movement is life. Whether dancers are representing body systems like the musculoskeletal, neural, emotional, or visual ones, any physicalized depiction or personification of said systems might resemble each other or simply become a lifeless wash of gestures, unless particular attention is put on contextual setup and audience knowledge. I believe in a strong narrative thread to keep an audience engaged and, like in literature, an allusion is only successful if an audience can understand it, so in that regard, an illusion on stage demands the some from both practitioner and participant. And, utilizing the root word of participant for an audience is my choice and my philosophy - perhaps even taking this idea to the point of immersive or participatory art, or at least one step akin to those ideals. If a audience’s engagement is aggrandized to the point of involvement or a point of participation, perhaps empathetic understanding might be achieved. Engaging the minds as well as the hearts of an audience is my aim while also educating them in someone’s struggle, someone’s story, and eventually settling into the fundamental truths that may reveal themselves between us all.
Choosing between body systems before, during, or after medical procedures; or before, during, or after medication metabolization; or even before, during, or after dopamine loss is going to be a challenge - especially in the face of depicting a mysterious movement disorder on stage. For one, Parkinson’s grasp is as distinct as it is diverse. There are so many iterations of the same disease, especially when considering the long expanse of stages and symptoms. Behind certain unique symptoms are unexplained sources of such ailments. Medications for example can leave people with a variety of extra symptoms, and some people will undoubtedly eventually ride the waves of bradykinesia and dyskinesia, or slowness of movement versus the involuntary, extraneous movement that might result as a long-term effect on alternate dopamine therapies.
I was chosen to present my work for a panel at a really amazing Dance and Performance organization called Gibney in a couple weeks, (in hopes to be produced there in the coming months) so I will remount the Prelude to the piece I’ve been co-writing with a few members of the Brooklyn Parkinson Group I’ve so far entitled “Basal Ganglia: notes from the underground.” I hope to create clearer stage pictures for personifying body systems, such as when one couple represents the musculature of the man with Parkinson’s who is doing exercises and getting a massage, a regular occurrence for this community. Simultaneity, or at least synchronicity, must be achieved between both couples, while not exactly doing the same gestures. Movements must mirror each other in qualitative efforts, while particular attention must be paid to intensity, proximity, and durational efforts.
Also, this piece takes us on the journey and depiction of other symptoms such as sleep disturbances and dyskinesia. Even emotional aspects of the disease like depression, isolationism, and irritability.
As I close out this entry for the week, I know there is still life outside this Window, but it’s dark o’clock and I can only see myself where once a Dogwood stood proving a nice playground for many a bird. Even though I cannot see them, I can hear some of the night’s animals quite well. Crickets, and locusts, and other humming insects unbeknownst even to this Eagle Scout. But I do know, like the molecular structures within my neural networks, they’re buzzing along. What I don’t realize at first, but do upon further inspection, is that my brain’s neural activity will actually increase tonight while I sleep - at least I hope so! - and within my lifeless looking body, within that stillness, there will be storms brewing, and mountains shifting, a veritable forest of diligent dealings, and daily disposals of things I don’t need.
To the 60,000 people in America, and the 10 million plus people around the world who have Parkinson’s Disease... to the unseen many out there both thriving and fighting, and even suffering in silence, please know that you are felt. If not seen or heard, you are felt.