a.pass | a.pt (advanced performance training)
Posthogeschool voor Podiumkunsten vzw
p/a de Bottelarij
A double bind is an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, in which one message negates the other. This creates a situation in which a successful response to one message results in a failed response to the other (and vice versa), so that the person will be automatically wrong regardless of response. The double bind occurs when the person cannot confront the inherent dilemma, and therefore cannot resolve it or opt out of the situation.
Double bind theory was first described by Gregory Bateson and his colleagues in the 1950s.
Double binds are often utilized as a form of control without open coercion—the use of confusion makes them difficult to respond to or resist.
- Do X or I will punish you.
- Do not do X or I will punish you.
- Do X but only do it because you want to.
RESULT: I must do it, but I can't do it.
Meta-communication: Communication about the communication
"What do you mean?" questions
- "Be Spontaneous!"
- "You must love me."
- "Speak only when you are spoken to."
Command contradicts spontaneity but only becomes a double-bind when command is not ignored or the contradiction not pointed out.
Strategy of a child-abuser:
1. Start with grooming and flattering: give gifts, "You should like what you are getting from me."
2. Victimisation: "I am punishing you because you have been bad. You made me do it."
3. "You should have escaped. Now it's too late. Nobody will believe you because you like it."
Positive Double-Binds (aka 'no-win' questions):
- "Have you stopped beating your wife?"
- "Don't you...?"
- "Can't you...?"
- "Why do you...?"
Play Practice is about senses and its relation with early life and memories, the experience in daily life and projection towards the outer space through our expression towards social life and culture. The practice is about identifying our way of expressing into certain situations like a moment of confrontation, dealing and accepting and mainly reacting. Inventing a score to create an incident and let the body react and mind follows and other way around. Using sense organs as a tool to provoke emotions created through incidents. Identifying the space filled with accumulated information collected through the life time, replaying an incident and to feel the changes and the challenge is to see the possibility of changing the past by playing the present moment, because past can be just an information or idea which exist inside us at a very present moment.
We experienced reaction through various tasks and scores, to disengage mind from body and observing the reaction of body, recollecting or replaying the incident and to identify it with a new perspective, the new is nothing but a combination of various memories played in different time and space which is changing and passing every moment. Bringing feeling and letting the body occupy and transfer, letting it pass in order to give space for the next incident. Running from incident to incident, going through different emotional state, identifying the presence and absence, and identifying the state of mind and body through these different emotional state, giving life to movement by letting the body go through different emotional state.
Discussions and references
Giving yourself a task where the reaction is spontaneous, identifying your emotional state through accepting and transforming through letting it happen
Rather than giving up and staying especially when you don't know how to react or why to reach, when there is a pressure its difficult to make a decision, then comes the stress, a moment of blind spot through thinking, which is expressed through the body, choosing emptiness, not deciding or making decisions not to decide, not being able to decide or disconnecting from choices, the moment or feeling of in between space.
Hesitating in doing, not taking risk or chance, making pauses, wanting to be clear but not sure about certain action, finding ways to create something new or difficult. Struggling for realization, realizing capacities but facing conflict between capacities.
Not completing the task or not being clear with the result of action, finding flow through different levels, reaching the state with multiple layers of making decision. Reacting to certain moments but not finishing, choices of direction, following and changing, reacting to people around, being ambiguous in behavior towards other people. Trying to express but being unsure about what is actual needed and what is the desired output. Getting into the idea of how it should look like or how others see it and pursue it.
Having so many questions creates hesitation because of the desire of making things happen and being successful.
Facing fear means doing it, reacting to the moment, not doing is the result of hesitation, creating excuses or running away from the situation, or finding alternative solutions without looking what is following. Accepting it can face the fear itself or being available to the fear and let it pass. Giving time for feelings to pass by actually doing it. Not being clear is created by conscious mind with the vague idea of what is necessary for the later. Consciously we were looking for information like a form to create, eyes to see and imitate, smell and touch to provoke feelings and thus creating uncertainty through pause and wanting to know what will happen. Thus creates confusion, fear, blurriness, afraid to follow, unclear signals to follow, staying in comfort zone, thinking, hesitating, making decisions and trying not to make decisions, trying to find the flow, waiting, stopping and starting again, questioning skills, focusing on something else, and then comes the feeling of extension in time. Every moment of questioning and making actions feels long only because of the effort we put in thinking and judging and not following the impulse. Stepping into an unknown area with closed eyes by trusting impulse and being comfortable doing it.
How can I perform my situation, my feeling, my physical and mental state (active or passive) even fear or hesitation? How can I create space in between imagination and executed action? Why I need to feel hesitated even in a very defined things when its done in front of others, why do I need to make something, a product to fit into certain frame, why we think there is no time to express our passive side, is there something I can learn from fear or we are just busy running away from it and getting into an other one. Is there a way to enjoy it instead of running and used as a tool to search something inside us, which is accumulated from the past? Can I give fear a role to express and asking not to be manipulated from the pressure? Asking to letting it go and letting it happen and see what happens. Is it possible to not feel the fear and how far can we go to overcome this fear and what’s the result of this practice.
How do I look like when I am in fear? Why do I feel hesitated expressing myself to others? How to put words into action? What necessary steps I should take to overcome fear and what happens next as a result?
What am I looking for and how can I make an action?
There is no right or wrong, no strong, no weak, everything is allowed, no quick, no slow, and not necessary to make sense of everything, not necessary looking for meaning, identifying impulses, and every movement is a project in action. Being playful and surprising you. Making choices through moving focus from yourself to space, to atmosphere and surroundings and finding yourself in the centre and getting every information from the periphery, you are more defined when u connect to the space, let the body take care of you, not mind, stay open minded, you never see the entire space, but you can feel it by seeing parts of it.
Is it possible to change the past and the future in a present moment only because the idea of all these past and future lies in the brains, which exist at this very moment? Is it possible to go back in time and change things?
The things we always wanted to change from the past, like the mistake we do and realization and then the suffering and an urge to change it or wishing to go back in time and change, well the presence is the reality and also the result of what happened in the early life and what also didn’t happen in the early life. The change happens because you thought about it at a very present moment, when you are aware of it, the experience doesn’t stay as an experience but becomes or changes the way you are, like how you become when the alternative past could have been, hence the past is alternated? Like going back in time and changing it?
Observing, study and transform, well the transformation is the result of this self-observation practice. The problem disappears when you look close, what does it mean. How can it disappear? The colors of life lies in the emotions we go through. Hence the practice is all about reaching to the simplicity of reacting to emotions. Finding simplicity through physical practice? How? Doing nothing? Or reacting naturally? Or exaggerating to become simple through physical practices like yoga? Are practices manipulative? Does it changes to become something we are not or it changes us to become something what we really are? Who identifies? Us? Others? What about the society? Our belief system of right or wrong, living like a frog inside the well believing it’s the whole world, limiting choices through non awareness, seeing and learning things to educate but same time getting stuck in that comfort zone. Isn’t it a slow death?
I strongly believe physical practices will either kill you or make you stronger. Strength is something we carry inside us exactly the way we carry stress and trauma. Taking toxins outside the body through practice. Choosing a practice describes the way we live in this society. But what if it’s all subconsciously programmed in our system that we strongly believe that the way we express is the way we want to express. In martial art they train years and years to practice just one punch. Movement wise it’s easy to teach but to reach the perfection takes years. Its just to find one moment of your life which is totally worth going through hell in order to get one fulfilled moment of one perfect punch and that moment is what described as the way of expression. It’s truthful, honest and feeling wise its real. That moment has a history and hard work behind, which is expressed at that particular moment. The practitioners believe its about practicing simplicity its only hard because we have accumulated lot of information throughout our lives which changes the way we are and where we have come from. And practice is going back in time, unlearning things and finding the empty space within us.
Space we choose or the space we are is so much related to the way be behave and even what we wear and even how we look. By dividing space you realize there is positive space and negative space, inside and outside space, center and the periphery. Its all how to perceive space and how our senses provoke emotions through reactions in that particular space through movements.
The vision plays a very important role in terms of receiving or reaching information. A person with eye can see things and can reach things and for a blind person it all happens in reverse order that every information has been observed or received that there is no reaching required. They can stay in the centre and information from the periphery reached them. Speaking about the eye, it performs short range, mid range and long range. The eye performs short range when someone goes through stress or anything negative feeling wise and short-range vision gives the comfort and keep them In a passive mode. Its blurry and resting but same time the centre is absent or not active or not sure what happens but the balance with the space is disconnected, exactly how a person feels on stage during performance when they are stressed, later when they bow in the end after the performance, you see the presence and you find that person back. Only because they are absent during the whole performance and it has been delivered through physical state of the body which we call dance.
Dancing body requires presence and eye establishes this connection with space and people around and its really important for an eye to perform these tasks with different ranges. Mid range eye has either staring or focused eye means the centre is where we stare or focus. Our body still performing periphery with mid range, what we really looking for here is the body that is looking for centre. In both short and mid the centre is still absent whereas in long range eye has this ability to bring the centre inside our bodies or revolving around our bodies. Long range is not looking far but to rest the eye in the space where every information from the space has been received or observed like the person without an eye. Eye is close to the brain, which is why it’s been difficult to bring the bodies between the eye and the brain whereas in training like martial arts it demands presence otherwise they either hit by someone or something or in rock climbing training where as soon as someone looses the connection physically they are not able to climb or complete the task, so the body demands presence and the eye performs. As a movement research its interesting to watch sports and understand space and the behaviour of bodies in space. Its just in sports like football it’s the body which leads, it’s the feeling which gives information and it’s the impulse which makes them move and the rhythm which gives them capacity to play for hours and hours.
Is it possible to work with the eye? Work with ranges? Train our senses and through this methods is it possible to understand our movement expression and language? Every action of our body is a reaction of what happens in the space. But the space is actually inside us, which we can able to move and this capacity is coming from the strong place we achieved during the practice working with the centre and the space. When we move we move the space, the eye has a capacity to shake things around. When we spin and stop suddenly you feel the movement of the space, it’s the eye which does this action which is expressed physically, The movement which happens inside and outside has to be balanced through the placement of eye and working through the space.
Dealing with physical state
Physically our body performs different states, which is so much related to emotions we go through in a certain situation. Physical training describes flow and simplicity in each and every action. It speaks about choices we make and decisions, which makes us move. An exit to consider and a pause to find stillness. There is never an entry only exit. Exiting space creates more possibilities than entering into the space. Entering into the space is already speaking what is supposed to happen and expected rather then creating an unknown area.
Process normally starts with explaining the situation, ideas as well as questions that is bothering and expecting results. Identifying our physical state, categorize it like how we categorize object, water for liquid state and rock for solid state. Identifying states through physical action, bodies perform flow, exit and pause like water.
Consider entering into the space starts with expectation, an idea that doesn’t cope with the situation. A feeling of being watched or thinking about requirements to fit into the situations. A body feels disconnection and starts to perform solid
During the process we were informed about different physical states and movements which is expected in different tasks and methods, taking information and using it as a tool to create methods in order to let the body go through different physical state like a warm up we do before class, understanding and changing in order to fit into the situation by really being aware of the situation. Mind occupies and disconnection is expressed through mental states that have been translated to our bodies and hence performing absence. Absence is still a quality received in a form of stress or aggression and hence the solid state is defined. Reaction is described positive or negative based on once own idea but it’s a language that the body considered to be expressed based on behaviors that we learnt or accumulated through out our lives that explain what is good or bad.
We used water as a metaphor in order to explain the physical state of body to explain flow. When you fill a cup with water it actually fill completely and fill even more due to surface tension explaining the capacity of bodies which has a capacity of dealing with necessary situation and sometimes even more than the actual requirement only due to involvement of emotions and spirit. Rock was used as a metaphor to understand the physical state of body to explain solid. May be stress or exhaustion or a blind spot. Due to accumulated information gathered inside our bodies, as soon as mind enters body exits. Absence in a physical level where mind is taking over and making decisions or even just an involvement bring absence to the physical state which is referred as solid state.
We explored flow through contact and improvisations through working with eye, engaging senses mainly touch and vision. Understanding through mind and feeling through touch, reaction has been captured through visual observation and verbal communication. Touch is magnetic in nature that stays connected and finds it flow and easily deactivates mind and stays in the body, the flow of the body is moving and transferring through different emotional state in a very physical level whereas in an improvisational task eye takes over, eye has a ability to see something and settle due to thinking activity, eye stops body stops, eye moves body moves.
Methods and observation through practice
The process started with inventing methods and recreating incidents through specific task. Lets say the practice is to play a game, which we played in the past, recollecting incidents and perform it in the real time and expecting the results of action through follow the idea of flow, exit and pause. What happens when we play an old game, do we play differently or the same?
When we have a very specific task and we need to push our boundaries and our intensions to make something happen, how far we can go, in these situations when things doesn’t happen according to what is expected or this moment of being watched from an outside eye and the spontaneous reaction which is expressed through emotions is quite stressful. What happens when we realize or accept the fact that we are being watched and being spontaneous includes the feeling of stressful situation and by accepting to give quality and letting it happen. Absence in space means not being spontaneous with the situation that already exists at this moment.
The work is based on physical as well as ideological exploration of fighting situations, confrontation between two bodies, so two people and two forces.
Basic exercises from Kung Fu, karate and kalaripayattu (mostly focusing on training reflex, speed, different qualities of movement, concentration and coordination) - Intensive body work; yoga, breathing exercises including pranayama - Working on the mobility of the spine, exercises based on Axis Syllabus and Feldenkrais methods.
Description of the physical tasks during our first residency
Martial art training
We were working on physical tasks and exercises that are based on techniques used in martial arts. During the process we were also composing improvised fighting sequences that were the combination of forms used in partnering and Contact Improvisation. Nevertheless it was all our creative work and exploration. One of the exercises that had the biggest impact on our understanding of fighting situation was about creating a situation in which one person is limited in the movement but still trying to escape from attack. The task was very physical because attacking person had to create almost maximum limitation. This situation was a starting point of fighting, arriving in the moment where there is no more freedom to move. Used force and limitation are evoking the physical and mental reaction. Dancers who are fighting in couples are going through different stages of feelings and emotions; often they have to face their own borders. It is a very rich and deep experience and getting even more intensive when partners are trying to escape from each other. Exploring physical reaction in a situation where people are getting close on the fighting field is raising lots of question that appear in mind:
Am I enjoying being close before a fight, what exactly do I feel? Where are my borders/limits? When and why do I want to escape or when and why am I enjoying fighting the most? Why am I curious about the next move even though it seems to be difficult to defend or attack?
We physically induced situations in which we experienced the real necessity for defense. The moment of not having another chance but to fight has been created for example by lying under several persons who don’t let you move. This specific physical state evokes a strong emotion, which makes you panic and concentrate all your energy to the single goal to escape, or as another reaction to attack. While experimenting the overload of a body with physical manipulations we experience the state of the “mindless” body. We also asked for the situations in which we fight. In which relation the fighters stand to each other, which physicality do they use?
Is the voice a fighting instrument? By practicing voice exercises we found out how to use the strength of the voice and how it can affect the appearance in a fighting situation.
Another approach we explored is questioning our awareness: what do we perceive as a fight? How is the body moving so that we call it fighting – maybe also fighting with itself? And finally the question arose: where does the need for attack actually come from? What brings a peaceful person in the state of attacking?
Another very interesting aspect of fighting is concentration. Concentrating might be perceived as an action of coming into deep dialogue with your body and mind. Being able to arrive in a different state of mind is helping to be calmer in fighting. Sometimes it feels that the calmer your mind is, the more alert your body becomes. In a dangerous situation we tend to wake up senses very fast.
Another exercise that is worth to mention was helping the dancers to reach a deeper state of sensation and awakening senses. Dancers were working in couples where one person was a leader and another had to follow the instructions and were given directions of movement with closed eyes. That helps to develop trust or experience the lack of trust, to become more alert. Bringing another person into “unsure” is the most efficient way to awake the senses. The last exercise I want to describe shortly has a lot of potential to be interpreted and explore in a different context. It might even explain the social aspects of a fighting situation.
Dancers were standing in front of each other on a distance and were slowly moving to each other. From the moment they got closer, they were coming into “hug”. In the “hug” one person always tried to stop another, create limits, even to be annoying so that the other person was truly wishing to escape. That exercise was very physical and intensive, sometimes evoking states of aggression or fear. This fight was turning into longer improvisation that was developing into different directions. It was travelling between the moments of high physical intensity through softer dance. Such improvisation is like a constant dialogue. It might be a nice picture/metaphor of the situations when people somehow cope with each other. It is beautiful to observe that in dance. From my point of view dance is just reflecting us… How we deal, how we are in dance or in a fight usually tells a lot about how we are in everyday life but also it is interesting to play with it!
During the process we were also discussing a lot about different states of body and mind in the moment of confrontation. We were mostly trying to understand the reasons of a fight, the way of behaving in a fight, some reactions in the body (conscious and unconscious) emotions that appear, reaching the state of calmness, acknowledging the power.
Play Practice is an ongoing movement research, which is developed over the period of time with new and deeper information. This research needs more input through understanding different methods through working with various people under different disciplines, its about creating a language which can speak universally through sharing knowledge in different perspective and understanding through various fields and deeper understanding. This research needs platform in order to develop further and become the language of expression and communication in a deeper level through understanding working with senses, awareness of relativity with time and space, result of action and the necessary output.