On Free Flow

Today I discovered something very interesting. We have been studying Laban Effort in the movement analysis class that I’ve been auditing (I already took the class as an undergrad several years back), and one of the components of Effort-based analysis is Flow. Flow is related to the feeling of continuity (or lack thereof). Bound flow is halting, tense, tentative, stopping; there is a feeling of thickness in the sensation, in my experience. Free flow is continuous, ever-moving, like stream. Flow is related to muscular tension. It is easy to confuse Flow with Weight, which is about how you activate your strength, the way you assert yourself in the world. (Of course, a lot of these terms seem to be dependent on the available English words that could be used to sort and group experiences. But ignore this for now.)

Today after class, I couldn’t leave the classroom. I know some of the reasons why, but still, there was something that compelled me to stay in the studio. So I played around on the floor, did some choreography (for the first time in ages), played the piano a lot. What I was doing would be what I usually do when I procrastinate, so I felt like maybe I was procrastinating. This meant that I was sure to feel guilty when I finally decided to stop fucking about and leave. Suddenly, as I was thinking about trying to attempt to leave, I was seized with a thought: What if when I decide to leave, I do it in one fluid gesture? From the moment I stop playing the piano (I experienced the impulse/thought right in the middle of improvising on the piano), I would pack up everything in one fluid motion, not hesitating, not allowing myself to come to a petrifying kind of stillness, but not necessarily in a frantic kind of way.

And suddenly, it was happening. I closed the piano lid, made my way to my bag, turned off my laptop and tucked into its padded case, smushed my yoga ball and my notebook, put my clothes on, put my cap on, put my shoes on, turned of the lights, allowed the door to shut behind me, actively shut the second outside door behind me, took a drink of water, said goodbye to a former prof and a woman he  was talking with, walked down the hallway, opened the door leading to the stairwell, climbed down the five flight of stairs, exited the building, headed towards Cordova Street, passed by the Cambie and ignored a panhandler, was met with green pedestrian crossing lights at nearly every corner, ignored two more panhandlers along the way, realized the consequence of following my free flow might be a complete insensitivity to the concerns of other human beings, made it to the Skytrain station, found the train waiting at the platform, got in, walked to the nearly the very end, sat down, realized that I didn’t really want to sit down there, made my way to the very very end, sat down, opened my bag, took out my lapop, revived it from power-saving mode, opened my HTML editor, opened a new file, named it “freeflow”, and started typing, beginning with the following:

Today I discovered something very interesting. We have been studying Laban Efforts in the movement analysis class that I’ve been auditing…
Image credits: Attribution Some rights reserved by frumbert


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