Empathy in Movement
Empathy in Movement is an on-going artistic research and movement practice of Finnish dance artist Susanna Ylikoski. The practice was created during a research phase and further explored in a practice phase with participants. It draws inspiration from approaches Feldenkrais method, Sapphire dream work, and Vipassana meditation. By observing the subtle listening of the body, the research questions were explored through anthropological, philosophical, sociological, psychological, and somatic inquiries on ontology, liminality, and relativity, with a focus point on perception.
When moving from an empathic starting point and in relation to our environment How does our body make decisions to animate itself? What affects us? What makes us orientate the way we do? How can we expose the body and its environments dynamic interrelationship and resonance?
The somatic practice developed through the first phase of the research studies how the body in situ makes decisions, by training the ability to follow both the directionality and the dynamic nature of sensorial information. This is approached through the relativity of the space and the body mapping the attractions (space) and tensions (time), and how the act of simply giving attention to this relativity animates the body into movement.
The afore-mentioned ability and availability are approached by focusing on the question what and how do we pay attention. The practitioners train their awareness on what they are naturally attracted to, as well as, how that attention is, and what happens to their attention when it is being paid attention to and given time. By allowing the individual tendencies of the use of attention to be acknowledged, over time a mirroring effect occurs: the attractions reveal their negations, what practitioners are naturally averting from becomes clearer, enabling the blind spots to become visible and interactive. The research studies the challenges that are met the moment when we can establish an interactive play between the I and its blind spots. That is, the decision to include or exclude turns into active decision making; to how many things can the practitioner be attentive to in their immediate environment & what does that do to them in terms of their understanding and worldview; re-examining and expanding a collaborative nature between acceptance and allowance; and expanding boundaries of what is intelligible.
Movement is approached through the sensorial information: perceived sensations, emotions, motions, thoughts, images, rhythms, and directions, in relation to space and other bodies. By surrendering to the perceivable information and giving attention to them – shifts, changes, residues, growths, erasures, etc. will occur. This focus on bodily processes with a simultaneous focus on the spatial information creates a bridge to a third focus at their meeting point: an alternative reading of a situation is opened. When the points of emissions, trajectories & durations become clear, we can start to approach the questions of what and how do we engage, what and how do we communicate, and even what is needed and how that need should be responded to. We start to distinguish when we are in a reflexive - or responsive relation to a situation, and from which place do we interact from: is it societal - or energetical empathy (physics). The normative consensus of the practitioner’s identity, logic and kinship become challenged – opening a space to an alternative and unfamiliar relativity (often beyond binary schools of thoughts).
The practice gives space to alternative power relations to emerge by challenging the practitioner’s habitual perception and trains the ability of ‘presence of experience’: an unfiltered and deeply personal attunement on how a situation informs, affects, and transforms the embodied image of the body in situ. The practice trains how to transparently share the visceral experience to another; affect and be affected by; what is the limit to ourselves, to others, to space, to information; & making visible the process of how our bodies are constantly remade.
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*Special thanks to Raz Mantell for this note.