In one word: Searching. I change my mind all the time about what I want to do do, how I want to move, the way in which I’d like to carry myself and what qualities and attributes I’d like to develop. The only constant in all of it is that I never get bored. I’m obsessed on moving. And not in the sense that I just want to work hard and be better, although that is certainly an aspect of it. More so, I’m perfectly contented spending hours experimenting with this vessel that is my body and this quality of searching makes it really hard to want to stop or to do anything else for that matter. Kind of a healthy form of self obsession. Maybe.
2. What turning points have you encountered on your movement journey?
My first introduction to movement as I understand and primarily practice it today, began in college. I had the great fortune to attend Western Michigan University. Inside this big school was a small, well funded theatre program and the faculty had what was then a very unique interest in bringing in a diverse offering of guest artists and teachers. I was taught extensively by members of NYC’s SITI Company, a collective of artists and performers who had made their reputation by showcasing collaboratively created stage productions, using collage assemblage, film, music, dance and many other mediums as their reference point.
Their actors were trained in the techniques of Viewpoints and Suzuki, movement and vocal training respectively. This was the first time I had come to be aware of any sort of technique for an actor’s body, and I was floored at the dynamism it brought to performance, the rigors of the training itself, and possibility it presented to me as a young artist who was finding himself already rather discontented with the standard theatre faire. After college, I continued with my training, first in NYC and for my first few years in Los Angeles, but the discipline wasn’t there anymore, and frankly, the community for practicing was hard to find. It wasn’t until 3 years ago, broken and disenchanted from my tryst with Crossfit, that I began to understand the potentially powerful tool that I had at my disposal, and I began to find my way toward offering up performance based protocols to non performers. I haven’t been able to stop.
3. What role has injury played in cultivating your current niche?
I wake up every single day aware of my chronic pain. I’ve had lumbar issues for as long as I can remember. Early on in becoming tuned into mobility work as a means to free up restrictions in the body, I was really excited at the possibility that I could find some relief. I haven’t found one bit. What I have found, is a new experience of my body. A new concept for living, being, shaping. With that, I’ve come to understand the great importance of our attachments and the damage they can do to our sense of self. I spent so long wishing my pain away, looking for answers, and hoping that this guy or gal was going to be the one who would provide me the magic pill. That made me miserable, and had me resenting those who I believed were without pain. I know better now. Most of the time. I don’t not wish my pain away, but I don’t obsess on it either, and I don’t get hung up on what I can’t do, I enjoy what I can. I’m also really easily irritated by people who promise pain relief. Not that it isn’t a noble pursuit, I guess, but a promise? Who do you think you are? Until that person is ready to change his/her mind about how they feel about their pain, you’re not going to take anything away from them, apart from maybe their spirit in being able to trust another. I have a lot to say about pain.
4. Do you consider yourself a teacher? Why or why not?
Yes. It’s in my blood. My dad was a teacher, special ed. My mom too, blind rehabilitation. I think I’ve always wanted to teach. Some people are really good at what they do, that does not translate to being able to teach. I’m decent at what I do, but I’m a really good teacher.
5. What has been your experience with physical education, both in the schooling system and sought out knowledge/ know-how elsewhere?
In school I had gym and organized team sports and I hated both of those. I still do. I really wish more had been offered to students then, and I really feel that way now as a young father. I will say, however, that my experience was what it was and it shaped me into who I am and I’m okay with that. I can’t imagine anything going any differently and turning out any better. I’ll encourage my daughters to seek out the knowledge they’re after. As I mentioned before, college had a tremendous impact on me, as has the shift in the industry in recent years with its focus on movement quality, distinguishing a moving practice from simply working out. I credit Andreo Spina, Michael Chivers and Dewey Nielsen for great work they’ve done to bring awareness to the importance of mobility in a moving practice. I also credit my friend, Ryan Hurst and the rest of the crew at GMB for their continued work in making training more available to more people, and more fun overall. Jozef and Linda of Fighting Monkey have been recent influences for me and the work I like to bring to my students. And, of course, how we can not mention Ido. As many hang ups as I may have about the branding and systemization of a #movementculture, the the tremendous influence on how we move and how we talk about movement is undeniable. For better or worse. Who’s to say?
6. How do you involve your mind/ emotions into your physical routines?
Intention is the springboard to everything I do. Sometimes it is a piece of imagery outside of me that sparks the intention. There is great power in one’s ability to hallucinate. This imagery we shape in our mind has a profound impact on the clarity of relationship to that imagery and so our feelings about it and the actions we then take on its behalf. This idea was largely influenced by the polish theatre director Jerzy Grotowsky.
7. What are your personal aspirations regarding movement? How do you hope to find purpose and use in the skills you have built?
I just want to keep on enjoying it forever and ever. That’s all that I ask.
8. How can people find/ contact you? Do you have a site or social media handle to share?