Attending Andrea Olsen’s visit last monday was amazing. She spoke about our relationships with others and the earth, and how humans have co-evolved with the planet.

Andrea said that as dancers (and as people), we don’t create new movement, we just simply participate in the movement that is already happening around us, making new ways to express the movement we have seen around us. Andrea suggests that the body is a vehicle for discovery/inquiry, as well as holding the ability to construct/be constructive. Maybe we construct our movements as we go through our daily lives according to the discoveries we want to make.

Another point that Andrea brought up was the idea of sympathetic and parasympathetic body expression. We see these two types of body expressions in interviews, dining halls, or in the classroom. A sympathetic expression of body is a much more stressful form that the body takes – it engages the body toward action (hands sweating, heart rate increases, and activates the digestive tract). Someone sitting in a sympathetic position would be sitting fully upright, and would look a little too “in your face,” seeming like they wanted to impose their ideas, rather than listen.

Parasympathetic body expression however is the opposite of sympathetic – it is relaxed, soft, and receiving – often taking the form (if you are sitting) of sitting far back in the chair, back curved to the chair, and chest curved inward.

In parasympathetic form, the most healing takes place, whereas sympathetic form, healing in one’s body cannot happen, because it is already experiencing enough stress. A balance of these two forms is best for dancers, people, students, your grandma, or anyone. This is the balance of being present – not having your own agenda, like sympathetic form, but not too lax, like the parasympathetic form. This balance is perfect place for listening, and then sharing your thoughts, or just a equal exchange of movement and thoughts.

It was interesting to see how we as humans interact with other humans, and how we may take up different forms, and what that says about us and our connection to the world around us.