I had the wonderful opportunity to go to NYC last week and assist the fabulous Ellen Goldman teaching a class on the Knots in the A and B scales at the Laban Institute for Movement Studies. A little shaky with the concept of knots and lemniscates, arguably one of the less solidly defined areas of Choreutics, I was excited to dive in with some current students and Ellen.
Two ways of thinking about knots in spatial scales emerged for me. The first is based upon the rotational abilities of the body. The forearm is able to rotate, radius and ulna around each other. Moving through space the body begins to create knots during internal rotation. For example, the first volute in the A scale from high right, to back low, to forward left feels very knotted to me. My arm rotates internally to cut transversally through the space to back low and stays internally rotated as I reach across my body to forward left. Then, the beauty of the scale appears, as I spread and externally rotate to right low through to back high, effectively unknotting and uncrossing myself. It feels related to the inner/outer duality to me. Knot moving inward and unknot moving outward. I would be very curious to see movement that appeared knotted outward and unknotted inward.
The second way of thinking about knots in space harmony was based upon the actual pathways in space. We took streamers and using all the members of the class, created the path the A scale takes in the air around someone. Holding the pathways in the air before us, we could see the places were the pathways themselves crossed and knotted. If, like the after image of a sparkler, those spatial pathways hung in the air after the mover to visualize how those pathways actually tie knots. If you pull both ends of the trail will the string be knotted or unknotted when you pull it tight? I’m still not sure. The knotted pathways that Laban describes and draws in Choreutics appear to create actual knots in the fabric of space. If you performed that scale with string in your hand, that string would be knotted at the end of the phrase.
To me our ability to knot and unknot in space seems intimately related to the plasticity and resilience our bodies have and how that is reflected in our mental and emotional lives. Sometimes in coping with people or events in my environment I must knot. It lives in my actions, in my tissues, in my effort choices. That knot holds the shape of the information imprinted upon me by my environment. The beautiful thing is that the resilience of my body and mind can hold that knot until I am ready to unknot it, and when I am ready the body and the self can gently tease that knot apart. Effectively coping. I am constantly in the process of winding and unwinding, and for me the most important part seems to be clearly devoting time to unknot as part of my self care routine using the Bartenieff Fundamentals, Yoga, meditation, or just having a drink with friends. The knotting will happen on its own. It is a way to transcend linear time, as imaged by the A-Scale hanging in the air in one single moment represented by streamers. The past is wound and the present is unwound for the future to be wound again. Another beautiful duality inherent in our gift of movement.