One of the greatest physical practices you can engage in is flow creation. We come from a tradition of separation: we separate strength & conditioning from performance, force from flexibility, efficiency from beauty. In the physical, the antidote against this separation is the flow, which is an effort towards integrating all this aspects into a beautiful and powerful physical expression.
Although many schools approach this as “just be spontaneous”, they do not realize spontaneity is something we have lost. Most of us will do something awful if we just try to do contemporary dance, so training with a method is of great help to get to higher levels.
One of this methods comes from Ido Portal. As good as his work is, he is not the best person when it comes to organizing (publicly) or even sharing information, but with time I have come to collect his work around this. It may not be the exact process he teaches today, but it gives a really good idea about it that you can implement right now. Let’s get into it.
There is a lot of secret language to explain here. Some of you may be more familiar with his terminology, but I’ll still explain it.
First of all, the process has three stages: Isolation, Integration and Improvisation, where they go from linearity to non-linearity. This “linearity” is expressed in exercise as proper alignment, which refers to the almost geometrical approach to body form during movements, and it’s negation would be improper alignment. So Isolation is a world of Proper alignment, and as you move towards Improvisation it becomes more of a Improper alignment one.
In the Isolation process you start with “the atom”. The atom is the basic particle of a movement, like the equilibre in a handstand. You can have the straightest line and the greatest strength but, without balancing, there is no handstand. The atom is the sine qua non of a movement, so it’s about finding the most important thing that has to happen for the movement to be. In the “language of the movement”, it would be where you learn the basic vocals and consonants. Weak link training should be tailored to this priority.
Nevertheless, an atom cannot do much without other elements. In the handstand case, you also need arm and scapular strength, good alignment and shoulder flexibility. This other elements join together to create “the molecule”. So in the “language of movement”, this is where you start to play with the letters and understand the logic of their interactions, but you haven’t still created words.
Finally, you come up with Singular movements. In here you have putted the pieces together to create skills, using your strength in an specific scenario. So you have now created complete words or, in this case, movements like the aerial.
If you think about it, this is by itself a process of Isolation (Atom) and Integration (Molecule and Singular movements), but not yet of Improvisation. For that, you will have to repeat this process with other movements and then do the three I’s system on a macro level.
So you have done the Isolation process a number of times and have develop various movements. Let’s say they are Au Cortado, Role, Rotation Into Low Bridge, Squat and QDR (all this come from Floreio and you can check them out here). How do you put them together? You need a Transitional movement. This is a movement where all of the other movements can begin from and end with. This is the diagram Ido Portal uses to explain this:
In this case, each of the movements can be connected because they all start and end with a squat. The transitional movement then has to be thought as allowing this connective nature, and there are some harder than others. For example, in a handstand flow with movements like pike press, straddle position, V-sit and Split handstand the transitional movement that would make more sense would be the handstand. This part is very important because is what impides a Corner or a Bump, which is a moment where the flow cannot continue due to a block, so that at least in theory you can continue flowing forever.
Once you develop the Transitional move, you can start creating Sequences. This is the practice of little combinations, so in our case you create combos like going from a Role-Squat-QDR-Squat, then Rotation into Low Bridge-Squat-Au Cortado-Squat, and so on. You are still not joining them all together but creating mini flows around the transitional move.
You can finally start improvising in a Closed system flow. This is an improvisation between known elements and transitions, so it’s just putting together all of the movements around the transitional move. This is still the integration phase because, as you can see, you are still just playing with known elements, so it’s not improvisation in the widest sense of the word.
After this, you arrive to the improvisation stage. You first develop ‘Fusion movements’, which are changes between one movement to another without going through the Transitional movement. This will create new transitions. So you go directly from an Au cortado to a QDR, without using the squat. You practice this in chunks, and when you have enough practice you get to the final Improvisation step- the Open system flow. In here you are not bound anymore by the known movements or transitions, but you flow between them and introduce movements that are foreign to this flow. So in a sense here is where you integrate this particular flow with the totality of your “movement vocabulary” (read: other flows you have created). This can be done between acrobatics, yoga, dance, capoeira, break dancing and so much more, overcoming the separation between styles to get into your very own embodiment of expression and creativity.
Think of the possibilities.
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