Moving With Your Line of Gravity
Moving the line of gravity literally covers more ground
In the last post I described how the relationship between the center of movement and the line of gravity created internal dynamic tension which is a part of what creates presence or intention within the embrace. Moving the line of gravity literally covers more ground, but is easier to explain than the micro movements that create dynamic tension.
Any movement starts by moving our center away from our line of gravity to create dynamic tension. Our center of movement can be imagined as being a spot at the top of our sacrum in the center of our body. Standing still, the center of movement is intersected by our line of gravity.
When it comes to communicating in the embrace, less movement is better.
As we move away from our line of gravity, (meaning we haven’t actually gone anywhere yet), the dynamic tension increases until we must expand our range of axis by sinking into the ground, (lowering our center of gravity), and reaching out with a foot and applying contra-body spiral. All of these things increase the distance our center of movement can stray from our line of gravity. It should be emphasized that when it comes to communicating in the embrace, less movement is better. Moving less, or internalizing the movement, requires more sensitivity, but it greatly increases the dynamic range of any movement.
This part of any movement is the sweet spot where anything can happen.
We are moving but we aren’t going. This is where we change direction to get a boleo, this is where we can play with the pressure in the embrace, this is where we are communicating the most with our partner and where everything can be more intense. Learning to stretch this moment out at the beginning and ending of every movement will open many opportunities for communication in the dance. Stretch this out enough, and all movements will flow together, without beginning or end.
Eventually, as we continue to move our center away from our line of gravity, we must let our center of gravity move. We push off and slowly allow more weight to transfer onto the other foot. At this point our line of gravity is trying to catch up with our center of movement. How fast we let it catch up, and release our internal dynamic tension is up to us. Prolonging this catch up time feels really good to your partner in the embrace.
Let the line of gravity stretch ahead and build up more dynamic tension as it goes.
Of course, all of this can be done quickly as well, but we must be able to do it slowly with awareness, before we can do it quickly with precision. All of this awareness will make your fast milonga that much better.
In a step, your line of gravity intersects, moves along with, and finally passes your center of movement as you pass through the mid-point of the step, which is where both feet have equal weight. Let the line of gravity stretch ahead and build up more dynamic tension as it goes. This also feels really good to your partner. If you were to keep up with your line of gravity, the result is a feather like presence in the embrace and movement that is quick, rather than slow and gooey.
Finally, as more weight transfers onto the new foot, we can imagine the pressure from the floor driving up the inside of our leg into our hip, the hip engages, then on to the sacrum. As the sacroiliac joint engages on one side, it should disengage equally on the other, allowing the opposite hip to relax and drop as the pressure is released down the outside of the leg. This all happens gradually, one side engaging, the other relaxing.
Collecting is a side effect of proper movement through your line of gravity.
As this completes, our center of movement has caught up with our line of gravity and mostly likely is continuing on in the same, or some other direction. If our hip is relaxed and dropped, our free leg, knee and foot will pass right next to our line of gravity– this is commonly compartmentalized as a separate idea, called “collecting”.
Collecting is a side effect of proper movement through your line of gravity. It is not something that needs to be named or thought about. I believe, in fact, that thinking about it can cause all sorts of problems. The thought patterns and visualizations that the idea of collecting creates is contrary to what we actually need to be doing. We feel that it is far better to think about moving through your line of gravity, relaxing your hip and letting the rest of your body do what it should.
The idea of collecting is truly a bandaid on a more fundamental set of problems, and telling dancers to collect is a simple answer to a complex question that may seem to work initially, but is mostly harmful in a person’s growth as a dancer. Thinking about collecting will get your feet together, but it causes you to think about steps rather than movement and avoids describing what should be happening in your core. It frequently creates a host of additional problems, such as jerky movement that starts, stops and sticks as one foot passes the other. Arriving too quickly in a step is another problem. If someone tells you to “collect,” try thinking about this instead: relax your free hip, let your leg and foot flow where they will, and move through your line of gravity. Further discussion about “collection” can be found in our other article, How we think affects the way we move.
Visualize a nice line that moves and swirls through each line of gravity as you move from one line to the next.
A good way to create fluidity of movement is to visualize your center of movement as it leaves your line of gravity, stretching away like it is held by a rubber band, then moving free, as the line of gravity starts to follow the center of movement. Maybe the line of gravity stays put, and the center of movement is pulled back into it’s orbit, which happens in a boleo, for instance.
The center of movement and line of gravity can never be too far apart, but they stretch away, and catch up, or bounce back to one another with each movement.
In a step, the line of gravity catches up to the center of movement halfway to it’s new destination, then stretches ahead of the center of movement, leaving it to catch up as you arrive fully on your new standing leg. Along the way, the center of movement may gather or release spiral or directional tension that can change the direction of this movement or the next.
Thinking of the center of movement as a pencil drawing a line, we can visualize a nice line that moves and swirls through each line of gravity as we create resistance in our body while we arrive, depart and arrive again.