Thoughts and reflections inspired by the theme of polarity, discussed and encountered in “Making a Mask: Stories From the Body.”

March 18, 2019

A common theme throughout the “Making a Mask: Stories From the Body” workshop series was polarity. That which exists within us, how we engage with it in our daily lives and how polarity manifests physically in our bodies. 


The masks we conjured often exhibited visual polarity and contradiction. In my case, my mask showed a rocky and spiked landscape on half of the mask, juxtaposed by a smoother, indecipherable other half. On the theme of polarity, we explored “cross body motivation”, a concept coined by Charlie, that suggests different parts of our bodies (pelvis, chest, neck, legs etc) move and operate in different ways. Our tendency may be to lean back, to be physically hesitant, but our legs may power forward. To explore our own personal brand of “cross body motivation” we were asked to walk around the room and notice how we organised our movement. 


We were then asked to lead with an isolated part of our bodies - perhaps where we carried a lot of tension, or perhaps a specific area of the body where we felt numbness - then we exaggerated the characteristic or texture. For example, I felt numbness around my centre, when I lead from it, what was evoked physically, were various slow, twisting and sloping movements. I felt most comfortable on the ground when exploring this state. Rolling, twisting and creating curves or circular motions. I realised these were all typically unconventional ways of moving and inhabiting space, and that I felt my perspective shift with this new way of moving. In opposing the norm something was dismantled. 


We were asked to place our masks on our centres, and to release the sound we instinctively wanted to make. In my case, it was a low, guttural and animalistic sound. There was something primal yet alien about it. Something socially unacceptable and abrupt. What was surprising but also awe-inspiring to witness and experience was the way in which our bodies and our minds are intertwined, self-informed and co-dependant - they weave together in the tapestry of our personal stories. Particularly in terms of western rationale, we often times view them as separate entities entirely. Yet, it became evident in the workshop series, that they inform each other. 


The workshop was organised so there was plenty of time for discussion in a relaxed, and unforced way. Through this we discovered there was a shared belief amongst the group that we felt the need to define ourselves. And in certain, unshifting terms. 


But the work we undertook with Moving Pieces was prominently about fluidity. Fluidity of body, fluidity of mind. And it felt like that meant embracing our full range, including our polarities. This meant considering what it would be like to abandon the notion of presenting the “best” version of ourselves… Which was an exciting, liberating idea. That in accepting our polarities we could become not “better” but fuller versions of ourselves.


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