Rufus Nicoll

1. How would you define your personal practice?

Analog content aggregation in the body. Based around interface in relatively equal parts with biological, mechanical, and virtual (electronic) phenomena.

2. What turning points have you encountered on your movement journey?

In 2018 I took a multidirectional turn toward dance performance work and lobsterfishing. Dance helped me understand the work of lobsterfishing, and lobsterfishing helped me reenter my body after what felt like a long departure from it. Perhaps lifelong.

The physical, mental, and emotional demands of the fishing work and the relative isolation it offered brought me into a deeper conversation with the little pieces of movement learning I had made and found throughout my life––out of nowhere there was a wrestling move, oops, this is a bait needle not a hammer, shoot, this radically moving deck under my feet feels like a slackline on my big toe ball mound felt through the boot.

3. What role has injury played in cultivating your current niche?

Near the end of fishing season one, I took a hard fall, left ischial tuberosity onto the hard plastic corner of a bait box, an molded IPC tote maybe 12″ off the deck. Full body weight, elevated off the crest of a wave, all concentrated on that corner and that joint. Ow. I thought I was not going to be able to stand up, but I did, finished the work day, and it wasn’t as bad as I imagined, though I can still feel that spot today.

There was internal pelvic pain associated with that injury that required self-massage as there were no practitioners in my area who considered male pelvic floor work as part of their practice. Perhaps obviously, this kind of touch is very loaded in our current social world, and I felt charged with articulating practical solutions for bodies in need, starting with my own. Injury can be an opening.

4. Do you consider yourself a teacher? Why or why not?

I regard the essential state of organismal human experience as equal parts teacher and learner. We learn to teach and teach to learn. We are learning and teaching with our mirror neurons and complex nervous systems whether we know it or not. In a more traditional sense, I grew in a family of teachers who promoted a deep interest both in formal scholastic process and auto-didacticism. I currently consider myself to float between the worlds of the Ivory Tower and the Bait Shed and think of myself primarily as a learner with a secret want to teach. I love a well designed lecture, especially when delivered through the body without words.

5. What has been your experience with physical education, both in the schooling system and sought out knowledge/ know-how elsewhere?

Mixed. I loved the creativity of my first gym teacher. He invited us as young people into a lifelong relationship with our own bodies, or that was my experience. He sat us down in kindergarten (as I remember) and insisted that we find a personal fitness program to serve us later in life. It was a bit heavy handed, but it worked. Mostly he just showed us a life of embodied movement––we would arrive in the gym and he would be tracing the lines on the floor in handstand, one end to the other. He worked as an arborist in summers and on weekends, and also played a little flute. A big influence going forward.

Organised sports lost my interest in high school, with too much emphasis on old-school convictions about the importance of pushups and crunches and too much social pressure to perform. Ew. Gross. Disgusting. The aphorisms about the importance of organised sports need to change. I found my way to activities like hacky sack, slack line, rock climbing and those worlds of invented game play.

Mostly I just need to move to seek psychological balance and am most curious to engage my body in our sensory-rich concrete world. Maine is full of rocks and water and is an incredible environment to explore your innerspace through outerspace. More importantly, it is full of incredible movers who can be witnessed on any boat, every dock, every little dirt road. The body language here is remarkable.

6. How do you involve your mind/ emotions into your physical routines?

I do not. Increasingly I fail to see these parts of the body as separate or myself as having a great deal of conscious control. I do not think the body sees itself as separate tissues and organs and systems. That is our own fragmenting illusion. Useful, but limited. The body considers itself holistically. Engaging my body in slower, more gratuitous movement with performance has surprised me with the emotional terrains it has opened up, and also my inborn capacities to contain, compress, convert, and express this content toward the end of social capacity building.

7. What are your personal aspirations regarding movement? How do you hope to find purpose and use in the skills you have built?

I will continue engaging consciousness through the body, with the body, through the primary modes of socially oriented work, play, sport and performance. I hope to refine purpose through conversation with similarly oriented individuals––Perhaps it is useful to extend from the late Robert Frost––”Freedom to fly off into wild connections // Once to have known it nothing else will do. // Our days all pass awaiting its return.” (How Hard It Is To Keep from Being King When It’s You and in the Situation, In the Clearing, 1942).

8. How can people find/ contact you? Do you have a site or social media handle to share?

instagram: @rmknrmkn
email: [email protected]


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Stern Learning

Rufus Nicoll Author’s Note: The bulk of this article was written in February 2018. Now, it is late May 2020, ...