Enter The Faun will have a national broadcast on March 28th as part of PBS/World Channel’s award-winning series, America Reframed.
You can view the trailer here-
As we reach what feels like an amazing culmination of the work we started over eight years ago, I find myself reflecting more and more on our experience and the works continuing impact. Nobody can say it better then ourselves. Below is the beginning of two taped interviews Tamar and I conducted with each other in 2010.
These interviews were an effort, on our parts, to succinctly and concisely define just what we did leading up to the performance of Diagnosis Of A Faun in 2009.
T & G – 1
G: Okay, so I’m sitting here with Tamar. It’s January 4th 2010. We’ve just entered a new year and a new phase of our work. And, we have been approached by several, not individuals, but also people within the medical community. There’s a lot of interest surrounding the work we’ve done and a lot of people are asking us to give them something sort of comprehensive about our process and what we’ve done over the past year. Which, we think is a little difficult because so much of our (and you can jump in any time) work has been based on our relationship and just own site work and intuitiveness and what we experience in our own bodies. Since it is so experiential and physical, I think it’s a little hard to break down into words exactly. And that’s sort of our challenge and our immediate challenge right now is to – this organization in England (what organization?)
T: It’s for the purposes of writing a journal that is about I guess, alternative methods…
G: For physical therapy?
T: I don’t know, I’ll have to go back and look. But, what we’re supposed to do is say, what exactly, we do. So I will begin by…
G: In a thousand words
G: They’ve asked for a thousand words…
T: Yes. And to say it in your own words, like conversational – you don’t have to make it fancy. Okay so – if I just say “what do I do?” and “why has the work with Gregg been successful?” and by “successful” we mean that, he has more knowledge of his body. He has more potential for movement, for balance, for dialogue within is body and in general, we’re figuring something out. But, again, the only reason we know it’s working is because of the enjoyment level for both of us, having constant input and conversation between us, this back-and-forth is somehow stimulating and interesting.
G: Why don’t you, you were just saying that you have an encyclopedia of experience in your own body, so why don’t you talk a little bit about that? I mean because that seems like a good thing for you to riff on.
T: What it looks like is: we come into the gym and I look at Gregg and I either watch him walk, or in some way, take stock – scan, let’s say, him. And I look to where the energy is somehow lacking or not included in the body-flow. And then I say, “okay, there it is” and I ask him to do something or I create what Ariel calls an intervention where I say “go to that place in the body” and I make an exercise or I create something to make alive what I feel is not within the flow or doesn’t have energy coming through it.
G: So you see a block in the alignment, essentially?
T: Yeah, I see a blocked place or a place that doesn’t make sense visually in terms of being – that isn’t efficient in the body system. So then I say, “okay, how do I find out what to do?” First of all, I see it, I name it, in my own way. Then I access inside my own body, my feeling in that place. And sometimes that feeling will correspond to the lack I see because I have, in a way, a similar alignment.
G: What do you mean by accessing that place within yourself?
T: So, I put on your alignment, I try it on, I find out what feels like and then I make the movement within my own body and tell it to you, that we’ll organize the system to depend on enlivening this place. So, I’ll give you something where that lack has to come forward and make a support. For example, if I said “here’s your shin, it’s angling into your ankle in a way that does not make sense for how you used to carry yourself, but now in terms of the alignment we want, I want that shin to move back. And so sometimes –
G: Into proper alignment?
T: Yeah, so the whole calf-shin region sort of being on a slant that came out of your heels not being down. Now that your heels are down, we can shift the whole weight into your heels, which are now down and you can have the column of your leg rising up from a really good foundation. You know, like a building; if you fix the basement, you can build more stories. So, then I try that and then I wait for feedback from you to know what to try next. Or, I actually see the block move so it’s removed to one place and then it’s created in another. So, I move around in this kind of experiential – a way, using all the experiences I’ve had in the past in my body, so that I’m not just working on some in-the-moment instinct, but I’ve catalogued and stored inside my own body in a kind of library, experiences that have made changes or experiences that have just taught be the nature of a place in the body. So, if I want to translate that to you (1) because you had lack of feeling in certain places in the body then one of my jobs is to give you feeling and to give you love for that particular place. “What’s so interesting about that place?” Well, “it’s interesting because it’s totally fascinating because of what it connects to at the top, at the bottom – how it fits into a whole system that I incorporate that has to do with spirals. You know, how does it fit into this spiral system? How does it fit into just a regular north, south, east, west pattern? And so I don’t divide up into body systems like someone like Bonnie Cohen – who goes you have the lymphatics; I mean I don’t even know that…I don’t not know it in some ways – I have pieces of it…
G: You have like a cursory knowledge you would say of all that stuff?
T: It’s not as much cursory as it’s just unbalanced, I have little pieces of knowledge from everything.
G: But, you have studied it to a point? Or been exposed to it?
T: I never like to learn a lot in one time so I like to just take one piece of information. My teacher Monica Hathaway…
G: I guess a better question would be: How do you access (this might be a little esoteric), but how do you access whatever information you need at a particular in the studio when we’re working? It will just come to you or?
T: Yeah, I take away an intellectual approach to everything and I go with an immediate, “let it rise up” kind of feeling and then the answer’s always there. A lot of answers would work…
G: Okay, I don’t really know what that means.
T: Okay. I go “shin.” Shin has to move back because visually the building won’t stand unless the shin moves back. That’s it. Then the next thing is, I see what happens to you when we do it and then I’m responsible for helping you connect up to all the ramifications of moving your shin back. And it doesn’t matter where I start in the body because the body is one whole in itself and wherever you start you’ll have to that connecting. But, behind all that is like almost say there’s a phantom body standing next to your body, which is a body that has a positive alignment. So, I always keep that positive alignment-ghost-spirit there – it’s not that I want you to look like that, but that is the one who works…
G: That’s the blueprint that you’re trying to fit into.
T: It’s a blueprint. But, then I also have systems that I’ve put together from people where I’ve learned from where I understand that the body spirals, that certain muscle groups work well together. I know that the three joints at the ankle knee and hip have to coordinate. And as soon as you freeze one of them, the messaging goes all up and down the leg and of course, then further. I have the piece of information that the foot on the floor accesses different areas of the spine and brain. It’s a logical kind of thing and I can’t use big concepts for it. It just seems logical and simple.
G: Right, that’s what I get from it. That it’s almost this kind of, like you said, architectural or mechanical approach that if this is – you seem to understand the design of the body. You seem to understand what proper alignment is or what it should be. So when you see an alignment that’s off through environment or habit or what not, you seem to know where it needs to be or how to correct it. And I guess the question is, how did you figure out what the proper alignment is? Though years and years of studying with people?
T: Yeah, I think my own imbalances, my lordosis that I had – I had very flat feet, lots of ways that going through all my ballet and my dance training that I couldn’t use my body efficiently because it was always the artist part that carried me through, but I could never really technical achieve what people were born with the supposed “right” kind of body. So when I came across these teachers that are very rare, my two teachers that really taught me Allen Wayne, who was a ballet dancer and Monica Hathaway who was also a ballet dancer, who got polio and then worked it out. They were two teachers that were very hard to learn from, but I kind of stuck it out because they were very interesting to learn from. They were really excited.
G: What was hard? What made the learning process hard?
T: They only gave you a tiny bit of it and they only gave you a little attention and you had to work over a very long timeline together.
G: What would be an example of like – what does that mean? A little bit of what? A little bit of direction?
T: Yeah, a little bit of direction. In Monica’s case we could refer to ballet and she would hold my ankle in her hand and talk to me, and all of a sudden, my leg was near my ear because she was turning it in it’s socket and that was explanation enough to me to have felt what she did and have that experience. I’d go away for a whole year and think about that experience. For me, what’s been great about what I do, is that it’s come to me so slowly – tiny piece by tiny piece. And everything single thing is accepted deeply it’s tried and true.
G: Within your own body?
T: Yeah, within my own body and also the fact that I’ve taught for 26 years, this class, which I call my laboratory where I just spend time in my body and watch other people and send it to the. But, what I think is the whole key is that yes, I have this sense of alignment. I can look at you and figure out how I want to bring energy and excitement and discovery to the movement. Because I think that every time you move, it’s an investigation because you’re always going to have feedback from the movement and depending on where you’re focusing. But, the trick is really how to communicate with the person in front of you to find which language they respond to and to figure out the rhythm of when you tell them what and not to tell them too much, to let it settle within them and let them take responsibility. Because the only joy in it that I know of is the feedback that comes from me to me in my own work when I’m alone. Or, how you then add your whole spirit to the work and just learning the language between us, there’s a kind of intimacy and there’s a kind of communication that is so honest that you don’t get it often in any other way. The body is just totally incapable of lying. It’s just totally honest and it’s also I mean, both complex and simple. So there’s never an end to my discoveries. And I jump around like crazy – I don’t have any, like you know, start here and I don’t have any method.
G: But, so as far as our work was concerned, there was no progression or like what you just said about where to start or how much to give that person and let them process it on their own. How did that related to our working together?
T: Well, also, so that I know what to say “Okay now take this out on the street, Gregg,” “Okay, now, every time you do the staircase, this is something.” A little piece of information that you could take with you that when that was done, then the next piece would appear. And when that was done, then the next piece would appear.
G: You saw that from looking at me and from working with me? You maybe could’ve seen other things that needed to be adjusted within the entire body –
T: Right, and it doesn’t matter where we start.
G: Okay, but that’s confusing to me. We say often in studio that we couldn’t have gotten there unless we’d gone through this first.
T: Right. But, there wasn’t a method. There wasn’t a let’s start here and then go there. Often, I’ll say let’s start there and then I don’t. All of a sudden we’ll start in the shoulder, but then all of a sudden your foot will start doing something. So, it’s that response in the moment, to what is really happening. Not trying to impose – I don’t try to impose on you, I try to plant an idea, that your body will pick up on and nurture within itself to some sort of fruition. But, then it’s yours.
G: How do you know what idea that is – just from looking?
T: From energy, from when I see the lack of energy.
G: Can you describe what you mean by energy?
T: Okay. I actually can see when something is sunken or not in a chain of communication with the rest. Well, I see it in two ways. One isn’t so esoteric. I see it just as an architect would see it. Okay, the knees are facing in. let’s take the rotation of the thighs and go out – oh, I tried that and look what happens. Look, something talked to my tailbone. Okay, talk to the tailbone. My goodness, my sacrum. Okay. The sacrum’s now in on it – look what’s happening. Oh, sacrum you know – it rocks a bit. It rocks and then guess what happens, the arches lift. So, it’s a relay – I go back and forth with all these conversations going on in the body and I’m just listening in. and going oh, it’s going there – it’s going there…and then, not to sell myself short that I know that let’s say – I know about the foot. I know that yes, the outside of the foot has to be down so the arch can be a bit liberated to come up. So, it’s like what I know, what I see, what I feel, what I think is the rhythm of giving it – what I feel is the response from you, where you get excited, where it makes a big difference. And if you can’t relate to you, I don’t care – I just drop it. And I find something that you can. That’s one part of the work. The other part, is actually hands on. If where I touch you and you react and then somehow I liberate an action in your system. Like if I take my finger and I take it from the tip of your upper lip, up to your nose, I see that the back of your neck opens or you start drooling or, you know. So, the second part is less subtle it’s more like touch you and then see what happens. Then the other thing, is the shaking. The actual…
G: Can we go back to the actual hands-on sort of thing for a second before we go into the shaking? So what do you think that is? Why would the back of my neck open when you move your fingertip from the top of my lip to the bridge of my nose?
T: I think it’s almost a reflex. Because I do it and I have the same thing. You do it and you have the same thing. Maybe that’s a very ancient, you know – we used to be tadpoles kind of reaction. The hands on thing because I’ve studied reiki at bit, I can do it and things like that, so I have to admit that comes into it, but again, it’s like I think I put my hands where weight is needed. So if I feel that you’re too light somewhere, I’ll put my hand on it. If I feel that you’re too splayed in your chest and I need you to come to center, I’ll mark center with the side of my hand. And then your body will just respond. And then there’s a sense of massage of trying to with your fingers, to show that alignment. Trying to set the spirals into the thighs, into the opening of the knees. To set some of the spirals into the body where they connect one to the other. So, I’ll suggest stuff with my hands. I’ll suggest pathways and stuff. But also, there’s just the thing about, “oh, I think I’ll put my hand here.” And then I get information about that place. A lot of this – I don’t like to use the word intuitive because it’s very informed intuition. But, it’s very much, I do something bypassing the usual brain situation so I –
G: My own concern is like how do we talk about this so it doesn’t sound like “hoodoo voodoo?” You know? To somebody out there.
T: Well, I think somebody out there should come and watch because it’s very systematic in its way. Every part of the body is considered. You could make a theory out of any of this and say “this is a theory. It’s an energy theory. It’s a spiral theory. It’s a shaking.” And so it’s not just one thing. It’s what works on that day between you and me, in you – back to me and that could be anything from a suggestion of a way to think about the body and could be almost an image sometimes. We used images with stamping. Again, it’s just about bringing weight to places that need weight.
G: And what about the shaking?
T: Well, okay. The shaking is about exhausting habitual patterns and coming up with places that take responsibility for the first time in a different hierarchy.
G: Okay, I mean – I know what that means. Do you know what that means?
T: Shaking is a process where repititions tire the habitual patterns and new ones try to come through.
G: Would you say? Or?
T: Yeah, I would say nerve – maybe combinations of things. But, it’s also a relinquishing control in a certain way, so that the nervous system allows itself to just work in its own unconscious unraveling. And I think probably you could speak about this.
G: Well, I agree with what you say because in my experience with it – is that with the spastic dyplesia and the cerebral palsy, it’s just my body is tense. I mean that’s a major facet of the disability is that I’m just living with incredible amounts of tension in my legs primarily in my lower body, but of course it’s going to affect my upper body and everything else as well. But, exactly what it does is sort of unspool that tension. Or what you just said, it exhausts the existing structure and the existing idea of my body’s anatomical structure and gets me to an active, neutral position. Does that make sense?
T: It releases somewhat.
G: Yes. It releases it so that my body can receive messaging and information that it’s intended to receive. This is crazy – it sounds so weird.
T: Well, first of all, the shaking is like you lie down and let’s say you’re going to do shaking with the arms and so it’s the arms that move. Or you’re going to do shaking with the legs – eventually, it’s the legs that move. Eventually the shaking is learned and the body learns to do it. So shaking can happen anytime. Involuntary, but in sense you set it up. You allow it and then it takes you over. And first time might take a long time, but after you’ve done it once, the body kind of knows it. So that’s an important point. I think it was responsible for opening the back of the knees a whole lot. See, if we had just stretched and stretched and stretched, it would’ve not opened the way it opened. There’s something about the shaking that’s a release.
part 2 of this discussion will be posted shortly.
Check your local listings to find out where you can watch Enter The Faun on World Channel in your area.