Impulstanz 2013: Lecture on the latest research in myo-fascia and ancient art of chi kung


On 27th of july I will be presenting my research in the somatic realm for deepening performative technique. In this lecture I want to present my on-going personal research in both Western and Eastern bodywork. I will discuss myo-fascial meridians as introduced by Thomas Meyers, modern meridian theory as introduced by Paul Grilley and the work of chi kung. I will be discussing my view on their value for a performer in general and a dancer in particular. Also I will discuss the benefits for health. I want to make this lecture an experiential lecture in which the people who are interested will be invited to not only listen to and see the information being shared, but also to experience the topics in their own body by means of easy-to-do exercises.

Myo-fascial meridians

Somatic research has been diving into myo-fascial research for some time now. The latest or at least one of the most popular theories at the moment would be dealing with ‘myo-fascial meridians’ as brought into the world by Thomas Myers. It is a very interesting theory which, since its first introduction in 2001, has a great interest in the bodywork world around the globe and is still gaining momentum. It is an approach to the fascia work identifying fascial structures which are longitudinally adjacent and aligned as a continuity, and so can also be seen as a track or train or, in this case, as a meridian. These structures ‘show a continuity of fascial fibers, so that like a real train track, these lines of pull or line of transmission through the myo-fascia must go fairly straight or change direction only gradually (pag. 65)’. The meridians as discussed by Meyers run the full length of the body and limbs. It supports and enhances the body as a tensegritic structure. Let it be clear that these meridians are not the energetic meridian lines as used in the TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine (among others), but the lines they follow can overlap. This work makes a great step in the whole research in the body and its fascia, giving new and/or deeper insight, and thus offers valuable information for improved body mechanics and bodywork.

Modern Meridian Theory and Fascia

Paul Grilley, one of the leading figures in Yin Yoga, a yoga form which finds its roots with the ancient Taoists and focuses on stretching the fascia and the joints, extensively researched fascia and meridians in yoga. He worked with Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama, a scholar and priest, who specializes in mind/body connection and the energy system which travels through the connective tissue of the body. According to the modern meridian theory, meridians are waterrich lines inside the connective tissue of the body. These lines are created by hyaluronic acid; this is a major component of connective tissue, found in the skin, cartilage, joints, and eyes. Hyaluronic acid (HA) binds water and ions very well, and apparently, along certain spiraling lines. These ‘waterlines’ resemble insulating tubes within which free aqueous ions provide highly conductive pathways (water is a very good electrical conductor): the meridians of the body, as used in for example acupuncture or chi kung. In his book Yin Yoga, Grilley stresses that ‘if Dr. Motoyama’s insight and subsequent research are correct, then what Western science has traditionally considered merely inert connective tissue may in fact be vital meridian tissue which conducts life giving energy to all the cells and organs of the body (pag.1).’

Chi Kung

I have been doing Chi Kung (and Tai Chi Chuan) for almost as long as I am dancing and so the overlap between the two is quite apparent for me. The ancient art of Chi Kung has been around for thousands of years. It can be said that it’s the energetic somatic work of the Far East. Chi Kung deals with chi energy and meridians, and actually means ‘chi refining / mastering / working’. Obviously Chi Kung is not the only bodywork which deals with chi, in different cultures it has different names and there are different movement and bodypractices dealing with it, yoga being one of the most well-known. The interesting thing about it, in this context, is that ancient Chi Kung and the above mentioned research, which is still considered to be out-of-the box in a certain way, are coming together. Put in the present context and somatic terms, Chi Kung is aiming for an embodied tensegritic body understanding; and by means of stretching and stressing the joints and fascia, it enables the chi flow to be cultivated, harmonized and enriched. The advanced practitioner cultivates a clear awareness, will and intention and will be able to project the chi through the body into space with that awareness, will and intention. This doesn’t embrace the total realm of Chi Kung, it’s means or it’s aims, but this view enables us to see the why this lecture can be interesting for people in general and performers in particular. I will be giving the audience some chi kung exercises in which they will be able to feel the chi quite easily, and learn to understand what it is to direct it through the body and into space.

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Caden Manson is a director, media artist, and teacher. He is co-founder of the media ensemble and network, blog, and publisher, He has co-created, directed, video- and set designed 18 Big Art Group productions. Manson has shown video installations in Austria, Germany, NYC, and Portland; performed PAIN KILLER in Berlin, Singapore and Vietnam; Taught in Berlin, Rome, Paris, Montreal, NYC, and Bern; the ensemble has been co-produced by the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Automne a Paris, Hebbel Am Ufer, Rome’s La Vie de Festival, PS122, and Wexner Center for The Arts. Caden is a 2001 Foundation For Contemporary Art Fellow, is a 2002 Pew Fellow and a 2011 MacDowell Fellow. Writing has been published in PAJ, Theater Magazine, and Theater der Zeit. Caden is currently an associate professor and graduate directing option coordinator of The John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama.

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