From my Goodreads Review
Having read Tharp’s The Creative Habit and The Collaborative Habit, I was eager to learn what more she had to say about life, creating and moving. At first, to my surprise, I found it difficult to get into the flow of Tharp’s writing this time round. However, as she often advises throughout her books, I kept going and, perhaps as with many a difficult activity, the more I read, the easier it became to relax into the flow.
Not surprising is that four of the five pages I bookmarked were all about movements to try. I need to move. Not just walk, because that is a daily necessity if I have any hope of leaving my comfy bed and doing anything! I am talking about truly moving by doing yoga, dancing, jumping, swirling, twirling, walking quickly, jogging short distances, bouncing up stairs, playing with my body in space as it relocates from one position of groundedness to another.
I prefer moving to standing, standing to sitting, and sitting only when tuckered out. If I must stand in place then I prefer moving in place to standing still. My psyche – body – blood – brain – the whole shebang is infinitely more content during and after intentional movement.
Taking cues from the movement maven Twyla, here are the movements I bookmarked.
Jump for Joy
Sky Jump – Stand with both feet together. Bend your knees. Jump straight up. Reach to the heavens with your arms. Repeat many time–at least three.
Ski Jump – Feet together, jump out to the right; arms go high to your left. Then jump back to center. Reverse. Repeat. Many times–at least four.
March in Place – Feet slightly apart, weight on your right, lift your left knee high. Then jump onto your left foot and bring your right knee high and slap that knee with the opposite hand. And reverse. Repeat many times. Try six.
Traveling – First to the front, weight on your right foot, jump forward to the left foot. From there back to the right foot. Then place both feet together. Reverse. Go for four each leg.
Same pattern, only now jump to the side, right and left. And then to the back. Repeat many times. Try eight. Note, as ever: the body prefers moving forward to going backward.
Then she adds a new component: MUSIC! I love, Love, LOVE moving to music! Especially when one of my favorites comes on or it is the ringtone I have for my husband or either of my sons. Look out floor, my feet automatically stat moving; it is not a choice! Tharp listed some samples of what she calls “irresistible can-do music.” I now have some of them on my iPhone and yup, she was correct, my feet found each one irresistible and they simply had to move. Her suggestions: “Boogaboo” by Jelly Roll Morton, “Stompin’ at the Savory” by Louis Armstrong, “Flying Home” by Lionel Hampton, and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from his Ninth Symphony.
Of course, the more you move, the more you will build stamina, and that is the goal of the Build Your Stamina activity. To do this she suggests finding a physical activity that your body knows as a unit of time (heart beats, stair climbing…), then begin moving slowly and work up to multiple repetitions, breathing in on the preparation and breathing out on the work. “Enlarge your numbers daily. That is how we build stamina.”
As with The Collaborative Habit, there are occasional activities that are just pure fun, could make for entertaining ice breakers, and are useful tools for teaching public speaking or understanding language. I enjoyed the lure of dancing your verb – choosing a verb and finding the many varied ways of illustrating it through dance and movement. I smiled at the idea of “big” expressive language via body movements. “During the day when you have something to say–anything–you wish to say, stand up and illustrate it with a movement–any movement–of your choice. Jut a hip out to the right, pull up the left knee and slap it with the right hand. Give physical emphasis to all the points you need to make.” Indeed, this is an excellent tool to use anytime you want to make a point for your audience to remember.
Lastly, it is the rare individual who does not sustain one type of injury or another during their lifetime. Particularly as Tharp has spent most of her life dancing, its surprising that by age 78 she has sustained a relatively small number of injuries. This does make me think that the more fit we are, the more we nourish and nurture our movable bodies, the fewer injuries we may have and the easier it will be to recalibrate and heal. She borrows from the Japanese to liken the process of healing to that of kintsugi, patching a damaged vessel with gold. As she says, “The patched porcelain knows how to handle vicissitudes.”