F: Have we finally reached the stage of talking about specific games?
A: Well, yes and no! As previously discussed we are aiming to develop physically
literate beings who can understand and respond to any element that is placed in the
way! I think that at this point it is important to say that participants do not need to be
able to verbally rationalise this concept rather they should be able to demonstrate in a
practical physical sense what it is we are trying to achieve.
F: Obviously, you are trying to build this somewhat mystical circus based Physical
A: Correct. We are aiming to build a circus physical intelligence that is understood and
one that effectively reflects and utilises all the elements. (Rhythm – Tempo – Strength –
Endurance – Flexibility – Spatial Awareness – Shape/Dynamics) and one which can then
be demonstrated in an effortless and interesting practical physical manner?
‘Circus physical intelligence is the ability to raise awareness of our own body, to listen to it, to control its motions. It implies better anticipating and synchronising with the others’ body movements in relation with our own ones and the ability to skilfully handle objects. It also includes a clear sense of the goal of the physical action. Memory repetition and frequent training are needed to take advantage of this physical intelligence”
Mireia Montané: Euridit – ‘INNOVATION IN TEACHER EDUCATION WITHIN A GLOBAL
So! If we start as they say ‘at the very beginning’ - it’s a very good place to start!’ then
logically we have to start with rhythm! So! In the words of the immortal George Gershwin – with apologies
‘I got Rhythm! I got Music! ………………Who could ask for anything more!’
Rhythm is the basis of all co-ordinated physical movement. Each movement that we
make as a physical being has a rhythm – walking, jumping, running etc. - the list is endless.
And, it logically follows that all individual movements have their own distinctive rhythms. Thus, any game that we use as part of the process, needs to reflect and re-enforce this fact.
F: In reality, aren’t you just talking about dance or movement?
A: You’re not wrong, because, dancing and movement are a reflection of the offered rhythm where-as Circus Physical Intelligence takes the process a step further and attempts to layer rhythm, equilibre, manipulation, shape and tempo into one being, with the aim of creating an ever more complex and expressive physical presentation.
Obviously, the foundations need to be laid and so - as has been said - start at the beginning. Use basic rhythms that reflect natural movement i.e. walking, running, jumping, skipping!
Take walking! Movement at its simplest is defined using a simple pulsing repetitive beat. i.e. a 4/4 beat. The interesting part comes when you keep the regular beat, alter the movement and experiment with making it as complex as you can, yet always ensure the beat remains constant.
Another variation is to change the movement to say a skipping beat i.e. a 3/4 pulse and try the same thing; varying the movement in as many ways as you can without losing the regular pulse of the beat.
F: Do you really expect people to accept these simple concepts as the basis of developing a Circus Physical Intelligence?
A: At the core of every individual skill or discipline used in the physical arts there is always an underlying, basic rhythmical pattern. This never varies and is always present, supposedly driving the presentational aspect of the skill. Part of the problem is that we, as individuals, tend to ignore or discount this fact because, as individuals, we are discouraged – in the main – from expressing ourselves using rhythm – except on specifically designated occasions.
As explained before - see Dialogue 2 – using a simple example: put a toddler in a room and play music, the toddler will - 99 times out of 100 - start dancing, yet as the child grows this behaviour is frowned upon and to a large extent repressed. This fact assumes importance when - as it usually happens the child or children - starts to take an interest in a physical activity at some later date. The child is then taught a ‘skill’ without reference to the accompanying rhythm and thus in most cases finds it quite difficult unless they are taken back to the basics and the skill is re-taught using the rhythm as the foundations of physical development!
As referenced before, a good example is juggling, you listen to a good juggler as much as watch them, yet when most people start juggling the underlying sense of rhythm is usually not present and so we have to go back and ‘start from the very beginning’! This frustrating ‘re-learning’ if that is the right word, applies to all skills that form part of an Intelligent Physical Programme.
F: So, if I understand what you are saying, teach the basic at the beginning and save one-self the frustration of what is effectively learning a skill twice?
A: Correct! I appreciate that this all sounds a bit on the pedantic side, however, I have come to these conclusions based upon some 45 years of teaching young people across several Physical Arts disciplines. I believe that if more attention is paid to the simple basics then it saves a lot of frustration in the longer term and more importantly it raises the standards within the sector.
F: Albert, this all sounds very interesting but are we any closer to answering the questions regarding games?
A: Games are fun as well as being physically demanding - if approached in the right manner - they can both introduce and re-enforce these basic physical rhythms that are essential to the development of a high standard skill set.
So, the next step is to create a programme that develops the basic rhythms whilst combining and further complicating these movements across different planes and different rhythms!
But that, as they say is for another day!
To be continued…..