Going back to the experience of skipping
I guess the first thing to notice is the rhythm: the decision of each step hitting the beat of a music. The organization of the body takes effort when not in flow, otherwise an automation takes over that intensifies the different tempos in the body. The sensation of being on a vehicle becomes more evident. The accents of the beat are not disturbing the continuous linear legato of the body in the space. In time, the heart rate, along with the dimensions of physical space, complicate stability. The distraction of the mind and the fear of not controlling the body in constant motion, create certain hiccups, missteps and contractions in the muscles. What I always find fascinating in these moments is how gravity passes through the body, allowing it to shiver toe to head. A tremor that recalibrates the sensation with the biological dimension of the body.
The experience of passing through space is the most intense. Apart from projecting and visualizing trajectories, I found myself having multiple instant sensations of passing through a net of spaces that would linger as familiar yet not fully identifiable. Certain times they take the form of flat images that the body moves momentarily through, other times the sensation would last longer and, according to the motion of the body, I could identify a concrete image with no details. The turns and jumps are the ones that intensify the position and disorientation of the body towards space, opening doors towards the different images. In time, I started playing games with imaginary locations, bringing in more sci-fi scenarios, connected to outer space, light environments and impossible crossings. Towards the end of making “The City”, Ahmed defined these arising visions of the practice as coming in contact with “memories that never happened”. The skip eliminates a distance, confuses the perception of here and there, before or after. The relation between time and visuality gives the impression of time travelling and/or time as an image.
This occupation of the brain with opening spaces is essential for the practice, as they can fuel the motivation to keep on going. The action of continuous skipping inherits an absurdity. I avoid placing a concrete reason or goal for the activity, yet it works best to stimulate the occupation with the context of a road-trip or holding on to the potential geometries and spatial scores. State is built through the activity, principally.
On a more formal note, experiencing skipping entails an occurrence of multiple forces and relations. As a starting point the basis is on the feet, with the constant engagement against gravity. Propelling the body gives a clear upwards and downwards motion that could be best described with the analogy of upward jumps, but in the case of skipping there is always a forward motion, which is felt as a half circular curve or sometimes as a full circle because of the double tap that the skipping requires.
One of the often questions coming to mind when skipping is ‘what is the space of moving forwards to’ and ‘what is the space of leaving behind’. The forward vector is always strong in the navigation of the body and the comprehension of space. Contrary and at the same time, the leaving of space behind stimulates the self-reflection of the body and intensifies the forward vector. The backwards space is always crucial in treatment. As usual, it brings another awareness to the body in space but its conceptual and physical management creates a variety of tensions with the front.
Some of the interesting and problematic dynamisms can be identified in the neck and arms. When the axis of the body is aligned to the ceiling, there is equilibria in the body and its motion in space. The collapse of the neck makes it harder to skip, it blocks the energy and
It doesn’t allow the vertical vector to become visible and felt – especially when the axis tilts in the turns. The arms and fingers on the other hand seem to need directional forming under the conditions of the trajectory. They are the ones to bring more balance in the aerodynamic forces. The elbows are the most significant as they can lead turns and spins, while maintaining the balance of the body. Certain ballet principles have helped a lot to understand how the arms can be developed in the practice, moving it further away from the usual function of swinging back and forth. There are plenty of possibilities yet to discover on the use of hands, as ornamental instruments in composition as well.
But let’s go backwards.
Backwards skipping creates an almost automatic reaction of the pelvis and upper body to tilt. If the pelvis pushes backwards so that the axis maintains aligned to the ceiling, then pushing the space backgrounds is felt more. It is interesting to understand what happens to the attention of the gaze at that moment. The fear of not looking at the direction of movement is blocking a lot of times. The attention can be brought to the space that is left behind which gives attention to the distance between the body and the position that it was before, as well as to the edges of space or another subject/object. The gaze can be used in this case to acknowledge and showcase the change of distance and therefore
the relation that the change brings.
I tried different things with the gaze. In “The City”, the gaze was formed by the score and the necessity to count. It brought a practical layer to the presence on stage that I think really worked and can work in general. For me, the most interesting relation between skipping and gazing is a practice of the eyes opening up their periphery (creating a bended horizontality) while maintaining a softness in the eyelids. The best analogy for that is to embody a state similar to the way you would look outside the window of a train or a car while it moves. So looking clearly at the transforming landscape, allowing it to pass through, whilst leaving space to reflect the relation between the inner and outer space of oneself. I found this method most beneficial for the awareness on the appearing imageries. Though, it is hard to maintain when spatial risks appear and concentration is dispersed.
Skipping is a practice of vulnerability and encounter. The vulnerability inside it is what generates new beginnings, despite its repetition.
A significant moment is the double tap at the edge of the feet. It’s a central force for the movement. A generator that can be treated in a variety of intensities that reflect to the inner and outer space.
Within it, many micro qualities are possible. There is light hit, heavy hit, slide backwards and forwards, and jumping accents that a lot of times renew the space that the body is in.
I think of the double tap as the arsis for movement and strongly associate it with the common percussive arsis in snare drums, that brings the excitement and emphasis on the hit of the main beat. In the case of skipping, its use can be placed loosely in time but most importantly it brings the body on air.
Being in mid-air is a search and strive for the impossible.
A lot of times it feels like flying; others likens a spacewalk.
It is in that moment that I feel greater the impact of my actions.
The vibrations are lingering differently in the parts of the body.
Maintaining that space seems one of the central objectives of the skipping practice.
Above ground is a level in which the brain produces transformations.
I was skipping around when I noticed the gaze of one member of the audience. In every turn of the room his eyes would capture me but my feet were bringing me back to the score.
After 20min of continuous skipping in the extremely hot studio of CND in Paris, me and Andreas Haglund arrived to the choreographic part of stationary skipping that was induced with ±90o turns, improvised towards all directions, while maintaining the body axis and the spot we were in, positioned almost opposite to each other.
The right or left side point at the edge of the knee gives the direction for the according turn, bringing the whole body to meet suddenly the new space of the turn.
My turn led my eyes to meet again the eyes of the audience member. Our gazes locked.
I quickly turned away. A turn towards his direction brought me back to the lock, even though I pushed my body to exceed the angle of his eyes.
I tried again and again to avoid his gaze.
My body was slamming again after again to the line of his eyes.
The lock of our gazes felt like a clear channel, an extra hand maintaining my body on air.
My connection with Alexandre’s eyes was not the most impressive finding though.
Our gaze reflected back to the whole room.
While on this gaze lock, my chest outlined and reflected forth and back to
the corners of the room.
I knew how the edge of the room felt like, as if I was there.
My back felt the position of Andreas. I knew the distance of my feet to the floor and my fingers linked directionally towards the secluding audience.
With every repetition, I would feel my body hitting the direction of Alexandre’s gaze like a magnet hits the metal.
My eyes would first lock on his, stopping the knee to go further,
creating a ripple of vibrations across my body,
Needless to say that I fell in love with Alexandre,
Or maybe to say that I fell in love with the space I found myself in,
And this love for all, was painful.