The Basic Principles of Relational Flow

Moritz Majce

Relational Flow is a movement practice between several dancers. It is about working with a space of gravitational pull between the bodies, developing a multidirectional receptivity that is directed outwards and connecting to more than one other person, so that the movements created as a result form a dynamic, open continuum, creating new connections over and over. This in turn creates a space of community, which is produced by the bodies being moved by each other and allows the visitor to connect in a different way. They sense how the dancers’ movements form a group body that is shared and heterogeneous at the same time, and feel as if they are being danced with the dancers.

There are eight basic principles of Relational Flow:

1. Receptivity

2. Multidirectionality

3. Reciprocity

4. Shared Space

5. Landscape

6. Flow

7. Body Gaze

8. Diversity of Species

ad 1) Receptivity

The first step is to ground your body to the earth, and open your senses to your surroundings. You activate your sensory receptors and direct your perception to the outside. You do not search for a specific impulse but you breathe and listen with your eyes, your ears, your back, your skin, with all of your senses, aiming for a state of passivity that is at the same time not inactive. Your body and mind are both relaxed and aware, meditative and orientated outwards. You let your body and all of your body parts become antennas, receiving information, energies, currents, movements from the surrounding space and its inhabitants which eventually start to move your body. You are a sensor, not actively producing or seeking control but becoming permeable, exposed to what is around you, allowing it to enter and move you. The receiving does not come before the movement, it becomes the movement itself.

ad 2) Multidirectionality

While receiving and allowing yourself to be moved you do not focus on a single perception but spread your attention to two different reference points at a time, using them as multidirectional relation for your movement. You stay truly present with your body in both sensory perceptions, and let yourself be moved by and between these anchor points, becoming their node. “Being moved” here means both on the level of locomotion in space as well as affecting specific qualities of your movement and the organisation of your body parts. You always receive from more than one direction, i.e. while devoting yourself to an incoming sensation you already include another one – like jumping from liana to liana in the jungle without hesitating, using the momentum so you don’t fall down. A stream of relations is passing through you, pervading, moving you, creating an ongoing flow of movements between your body and the others in the space.

The basic molecule of this practice of a twofold spatial relationality is the “open trio”. In a trio each body has at least two reference bodies, and therefore can relate to more than one other. While the “trio” accentuates a stable relation of belonging together, the “open” highlights the necessity of staying receptive without being drawn into a closed circuit. An open trio must not be seen as isolated from its surroundings but is always listening to its environment. At some point it has to even jeopardise its cohesion as a trio, trusting in its own resilience.

ad 3) Reciprocity

While sensing with your moving body antennas, your antennas not only receive but they also emit. You receive from the others, you are moved by what is emitted by them, and at the same time you are aware of yourself being perceived by the others. It is important that you conceive the others not only as impulse generators for your own movement but understand yourself as serving the others to create connections between them, be they performers or visitors, i.e. you feel responsible for connecting them. To be able to do this you have to be truly attentive to your perception of the outside. You have to be truly with the other body in each encounter. Only then what is around you is no longer outside of you but at the same time you are no longer inside of yourself. It is a mutual and ongoing exchange of forces: energy streams from somewhere through you and you pass it on to somewhere else. Each of your movements is a gift that you receive from somebody and give to somebody else.

Like you, the others need your availability, your openness, your support. It is your movement-as-being-moved that allows the others to move. As much as you are fed yourself you also serve as food for others. You relate to be moved, and you move to relate. You share and you care.

ad 4) Shared Space

Your body is being moved in space, drawing and connecting ever new lines over and over, and volumes from and to other bodies in space. These relations are not straight and static but they are turning, twisting, directing, reorientating your body. The basic ways of relating to an other body are a) with your body parts (limbs and head), b) with your gaze, c) by being moved towards / away from an other body, and d) by being turned towards / away from some one (in the sense of rotating, changing the direction of your trajectory). Each body you encounter during your journey in space exerts a gravitational force on you, attracting your attention into its direction. This force is strong enough to affect your movement and its directions but not strong enough to hold you in its orbit. There are many possibilities of how to use the force of this pull, like surfing on a wave using its momentum. Remember the principle of multiple attention: it is always about relating to more than one other body – and therefore to more than one direction. It is about a coming from and a moving to. You are moving in-between ever new gravitational pulls. There is a plurality of bodies around you, and it is the plurality of their directional pulls that you can feel concretely in your own body. You are not moving as a self-contained subject, but within a plurality of interacting body parts – your own body parts as well as others. The space that is created by this movement is not an architectural space, it is a dynamic, relational space. It is a shared space that human bodies create together – a space of community. This practice is all about what takes place in the interspace between bodies.

The movement passes through all bodies, but without surrendering the difference between performer and visitor. It is therefore crucial that the spatial relations that move you are clearly visible and palpable to others, so that the one being related to can see and understand her*his being a point in the passage of your movement, making him*her feel permeated by your movement. Your movement unfolds within concrete and comprehensible directional references. Someone you relate to has to unmistakeably understand that your attention, i.e. your body´s movement is being influenced by their presence, pulled into their direction, while another part of your attention is with another relation in space at the same time. You make perceivable to both your co-performers and the visitors who or what you spatially relate to, which particular bodies, parts or places you connect to each other, which specific bodies are pulling you in their directions, how your movement is switching from one body to another, to another …

ad 5) Landscape

The space that is moving you and which you drive forward by your movement is neither a frontal nor a pictorial space. It is fluid and transitional with soft, indistinct borders to its outside, providing a 360° view. It is a decentered and heterogeneous space. Like a landscape, it consists of various locations, places and conditions. In this space it is not about presenting yourself on a stage but about inhabiting an areal. Sometimes you are a space walker and sometimes you are sculpting and connecting new volumes, densities, expansions and contractions, space bubbles. It is about having encounters while being on a journey. You let yourself be moved by outside realities, and you use this momentum to surf between the forces of gravity (of attraction). While listening with your attention spread out, you are being turned towards new directions over and over, as the space is moving, repositioning, restructuring and realigning you. There is always more than one scene in this space of continuous transformation.

ad 6) Flow

The entirety sum of all the movements in this shared process of bodies in space is the flow. While individual bodies’ movements might (and at some point have to) stop from time to time, the flow as an overall continuous event goes on, just as a view of the ocean consists of many waves and as the whole is more than the sum of its parts. You are part of a breathing, living, dancing organism, a shared state of infinite motion that you feel responsible for as a whole. While it is there, there is no centre and no final end to this movement, but always something turning into something else, someone affecting someone else, relations emerging and at the same time submerging. If you have to leave it because of your physical needs, you do so naturally and with respect. The same applies when you re-enter.

ad 7) Body Gaze

In this space your gaze plays a decisive role. It too is a way to connect bodies and their movement in space. The gaze is however never the protagonist of a situation, but always its companion, i.e. it is not about actively seeking eye contact with someone. but about allowing yourself to be looked in the eyes by someone while moving in the flow. It is about a moment of sharing, of being exposed to each other without avoiding, of allowing the one you’re looking at to build up trust while he*she is looking at you. Remember that you are a receiving-and-transmitting lifeform, you are caring for your co-bodies and you are carrying your gaze. Someone being touched by your gaze is not the target of a presentation or an activation but a gateway in an ongoing stream of changing contacts and connections.

It is a gentle gaze, fragile and open, transmitting; a gaze that draws its power from its sheer emanation, without protecting or holding back, that it is neither social nor in need, that trusts to be faced and met without restraint, poised to let every soul it meets release itself. It is a touch that does not feel like a bullet shot from the head, but which surges from the whole body; a listening with your eyes that is a harmonic and integral part of your body’s movement. And it is not only your eyes that you can look-as-listening with, but also your back, your chest, each of your sides and limbs.

ad 8) Diversity of Species

There is no predefined shape for moving in a relational flow. You have to be honestly devoted to the upcoming moment and yet unknown directions, without trying to control or fix a movement, which might cut it off from its surroundings. Within this practice no movement persists in isolation for its own sake, but is only born in and grows out of the relations to all present bodies. A fragile yet clearly directed movement of an arm, hand, finger can be more intense, more honest than a sequence of elaborate movements which nonetheless stays unclear in its relation to its surroundings. The challenge for you as a moving and sensing interpreter is to explore, find and develop your own ways of and materials for moving based on the first seven principles. Together with your co-performers each of you is like a different species inhabiting the same landscape, heterogeneous characters connected by a physical multitude of spatially related movements. While discovering and developing further your own habits and melodies of moving-as-being-moved do remember to stay open to your cohabitant performers’ genuine qualities, enjoy and let yourself be affected by their energy signatures.

February 2021 (Revised Version)