Developmental movement and aging

What did you think of our first exercise today? What was challenging or surprising to you? Please watch this video and add commentary on why you think we lose developmental movement patterns as we age.


15 thoughts on “Developmental movement and aging

  1. I thought the first exercise was very parallel to developmental movement. As I watched Gerald do the exercise, I thought the movements reminded me of how humans evolve from baby to child, then to adulthood. Watching the exercise was very different from actually doing it. When I first saw the exercise, I observed it like choreography I would usually learn in any dance class. I was counting the number of steps Gerald took and I observed the timing of each different movement pattern. However, I thought once I was doing it…. it was surprisingly difficult to creep on the floor when I tried to do it on my own, compared to when someone else was helping me bush off their ankle. It made me realize that I have forgotten the sensation of feeling the physical support of someone. The physicality of feeling the contact of the floor and trying to move forward slowly made me have a deeper sense of my coordination skills. I had to be aware of how I used my head and where I placed my hands to support me efficiently.

    As we age, I think we lose developmental movement patterns because we are constantly trying to conform to society’s norms. This social interaction which was mentioned in the video was equivalent to an “inquisition”, which to my understanding acts in a way that suppresses genuine expression of movement. People stop moving their bodies because they are told they don’t look a certain way or are afraid to be judged by their peers. I think people also grow out of their curiosity of the simplest movements because external or emotional factors make them constantly distracted. There is no longer constant self-awareness that was once the foundation of how babies are born. For example, babies are more in tune with their own fundamental needs of food, water and love. Empathy isn’t truly evolved yet and although empathy is a good thing, insecurities emerge as well that prevent babies to stay true to themselves when they get older. Authenticity is harder to embody and as we forget our developmental movement, we forget our true selves.

  2. The first exercise looked really easy when Gerald was doing it. I found that I felt really uncoordinated when I did it, and I’m not sure I even remembered as I was doing it to even notice whether my tendency was to move homo laterally or cross laterally. It was interesting to observe the different ways everyone in the class moved throughout the exercise, especially when they changed from homo lateral to cross lateral and vice-versa. The “salamander” crawl was probably the most difficult for me, something about the combination of laying on my stomach and using my arms and legs to move me made me feel like I wasn’t really moving. I was surprised to find that the “mermaid tail” was pretty easy for me, it was an intuitive movement for me- probably from pretending to be a mermaid when I used to swim as a child.

    Amy Matthews’ ideas about why we lose movement patterns as we age- because we tend to look on the whole area around our tails as being “dirty” is interesting… though I have to say I disagree with her. While certainly no one is immune from pressure to conform to any number and variety of ridiculous expectations, I think the reason that we lose movement patterns is mainly a matter of practicality. Many of the movement patterns that start to develop as we develop from babies simply become less practical as we age. Movement that comes from the head-tail connection is not necessarily the best to get us from point A to Z efficiently, or help us to escape from threats.

  3. Like many of the exercises we do in class, the exercise reminded me of different shapes and forms I enjoyed experimenting with as a child. As a child, even after we learn to walk, there is still joy found in the “grounded” state. From rolling down a grassy hill to crawling under your mother’s bed, as a child we do not have semantic associations with movement (“levels”). We just move. To explore, to experience. It was amazing to practice similar movements with an analytical focus on musculature and bone movement. I noticed that the slower I moved, the more relaxing and enjoyable the exercise was. I believe we lose developmental movement patterns as we age because as we get more comfortable with certain functional movements (sitting, walking) we rarely put ourselves in situations that require the body to make “new” (“developmental”) movements or shapes. Without the desire to explore new spaces, the body, the vessel which holds the mind is not motivated to move differently.

  4. Starting in fetal position, then working our way up to standing, and finally regressing back to where we started on the floor can have so many outside-of-studio implications. The first time doing it felt a little silly in all honesty, trying awkwardly to slither backwards in a way it felt we weren’t designed to do. Given the instruction to involve our eyes, however, to really see, changed my experience entirely. Somehow despite being intentionally focused on what my eyes and skin perceive of the world around me, I felt the shift occur inward on how I am feeling instead of what I am doing.

    It seems to me that as we age, we lose the need to keep developing our own movement patterns. As an infant, we are trying to figure out how our bodies work, and that necessitates explorations of different types of movement to achieve our goals. As an adult however, we realize our predecessors have already figured out the “correct” ways of moving for us, so we simply emulate them. This cuts out the need for individual exploration, except in dance of course!

  5. One thing that peaked my interest regarding the exercise was how it brought to light the ties between individual human development and human evolution as a whole. The exercise reminded me of those t-shirts they have at Natural History Museums that show man evolving from primates. It’s interesting how babies mirror pre-evolved humans and crawling and is thought of as an “animalistic” movement.

    I think the most challenging part of it to me was practicing the searching gaze that babies have. It felt forced and unnatural because there wasn’t anything in particular that I was trying to look at. But relaxing and letting my eyes wander and look around rather than just looking at myself in the mirror made the physical movements I was doing feel much more natural.

    In regards to the explanation Amy Matthews gave for why we lose developmental movement patterns as we age, I definitely agree with what she was saying. In our culture, it is “better” to have a straight back, powerful posture that is very different from how babies move. It seems that societal influences, regarding the distaste towards the tail and the physical expectations of people, are the key to why developmental patterns are lost. This loss of how young humans move physically also seems to mirror the loss of emotional expressions that occurs as humans grow older. Societal influences teach people to express less as they grow up. And I feel that that is a negative aspect of growing up that is openly discussed. However, the change in physical movements is discussed less. I am not sure if the loss of developmental movement patterns is a negative thing but it seems unnatural and this question will be on my mind as I continue moving!

  6. I found our exercise in class to be an interesting approach to dissecting movement patterns. I found myself paying closer attentions to the ways in which my body connected with and moved through space, especially during the transition period from one phase to another. While nothing felt particularly challenging at first, I found that that right there was the challenge: keeping my mind cognitively engaged while my body was physically engaged.

    I think we lose developmental movement patterns due to learned socialized behaviors, something that Amy Matthews address in the video. I do find developmental movement patterns to be extremely uncomfortable to me in a cognitive way, which is interesting to think about. I feel that it’s important to look at perhaps why this movement is not as comfortable to me as it may be to others; partly perhaps because I am very accustomed to approaching movement in a certain way and partly because I find it to be dissonant to think of myself all at once as an advanced student of dance while maintaining the gaze of a baby. In any case, I do prefer to think of movement exercises such as these in evolutionary or animalistic terms, such as fish, tadpole, etc. because the abstraction helps me to contextualize the movement in a way that both my brain and body respond well to

  7. I found this exercise to be an interesting approach to learning about how your movements progressed. We start in a fetal position and gradually take our time moving up to standing position. I felt as though when asked to move with our skin, bones, muscles, etc. they all felt the same but with very small differences. I think this is because of the understanding from physiology classes that we send efferent action potentials through axons from our brain through our spinal cord, to muscular junctions to ultimately initiate muscle contraction which ultimately moves our bones and skin. So, trying to isolate moving from my bones or skin didn’t really make sense to me.

    I believe that the reason that we lose our development movement patterns is because of societal influences. We are all primed to move a certain way that is considered to be the right “adult” way of moving. In development we are figuring our how are bodies move and there is a complete exploration of movement patterns. I think that once we figure out what works and what doesn’t we stop exploring and we confine ourselves in this way. When we dance we tap into the exploratory process to create movement.

  8. I thought the exercise was extremely interesting. Observing and doing the actual exercise was rather pleasing to look at and nostalgic in a sense. The entire time I found myself in moments of uncertainty because there were times where I was unsure of how to move so I basically entered a world of exploration and wonder. It was interesting having to wonder because it regresses us back to time in our stages of development where it is necessary to explore how to move and makes me wonder of whether the feelings and experience I was feeling at that moment would be like the feelings I may have felt during these developmental stages of my life. This then ties in with the video of how this necessity to know is what brings into the world and allows us to interact. Once obtained, we then find ourselves losing these developmental patterns of movement and thus never really regress back to these times of wonder, exploration, and uncertainty.

  9. I really enjoyed this movement exercise! It’s fun to crawl and initiate from different body parts! I also found the exercise very natural and innate. I felt like there was this deep psychological and metaphorical interpretation of the exercise–moving from this embryonic state to this climax of biped movement–but it was also simple and very body based.

    In connecting that to the video, I found it fascinating when Amy Matthews talked about learned movement as learning “how to be in the world”. I do think that’s why movement patterns change–they are culturally mediated. And while I do think there is some sense of loss, like we aren’t crawling around day to day because we have developed new patterns, I don’t think the loss is permanent. And I think the exercise in class speaks to that idea: we can always return to earlier patterns, we can embody different movement patterns that we have grown through throughout our lives. As adults, I think we can have a richer understanding of our bodies (and how our bodies connect to the world) by reintegrating knowledge from earlier developmental stages.

  10. The practices we engaged in were very different. I have never taken any formal classes on any leel of dancing, except those apart of the OPERS classes, and I have never had an instructor engage in movement from a developmental stand point. It was interesting, to say the least. I found the movements to be very different from any approach of movement I have ever done. I liked it though. It is like discovering a small world inside of your own. The fluidity of moving in lower space is much harder to do than that of moving in the higher spaces that most of us are so used to. I will definitely take this exercise and put it to use when teaching my high schooler’s how to move through lower space.
    I believe we lose developmental movement patterns as we age because society has told us what is most ideal when dancing. The dance community, at least in my experience, except for a show i did with my program, the Santa Clara Vanguard, has always been about stay up right and lifting in performance. There has never been much need in my activity to stay low to the ground or develop into the floor as we did in your class. There is a lot of westernized emphasis on the idea of being upright and proper. I am sure long ago being shlumpy and more “uncivilized” was part of learning to used our developmental stages to walk everyday through life. However, after much time of colonization and being treated like animals, the ideals of those peoples settled deep into our communities and killed off that vulture of the body. It may or may not be that deep, but I feel as though that may be a huge root as to why our developmental stages in movement are mostly ignored, from my experience that is.

  11. I loved this first exercise. It felt so basic and elemental to me, especially the salamander and fish tail part. It felt very similar to explorative physical activities I remember from child hood. It was just a really fun exercise that brought me back to being 4 or 5 years old when there was no expectations or concerns or judgements, when we feel so free to explore and move without anxiety. I feel that as we grow older there are so many expectations put on us and we become aware of judgements and social constructs. We are expected to be more independent and conscientious, put in charge of our own safety. I think we loose developmental patterns because these basic movement patterns and relationships become taboo for us as we grow older. We are told that we’ve grown out of that movement, that developmental behavior is not appropriate for us any longer.

  12. I really enjoyed the first exercise that we did in class. With having a 3 year old nephew and newborn niece, I immediately understood the concept. Also, the image of evolution was so apparent within the movement that I could not recognize it. In performing the exercise I was surprised to find that when crawling, my arm and leg on one side moved in tandem instead of having a cross lateral movement with opposite arm and leg.

    For the video, I find it interesting how she discusses how we are taught to avoid having a connection with our tail. I think this is significant in relation to the exercise that we did because so many of the movements dealt on the importance of having a head-tail connection. I also find her point about finding emotional security with movement choices significant in losing our movement patterns; the moves we create to express emotions do not necessarily coincide with ‘natural’ movements. This makes me think of the other night when my nephew did a face palm when he forgot to grab something. Crazy how he picked it up so quickly.

  13. Immediately after watching Gerald show us the movements that we’d be doing I saw the connection it had to developmental patterns. It looked as though we were going from fetus to adulthood in a sense of how we move. It also looked very similar to the evolution of crawling apes to the standard way humans walk. In the beginning of the exercise we pushed ourselves from the wall and began to push our bodies forward with the help of another being behind us. The presence of that being was comforting and made me imagine a mother and her child in a way of protection and being the stepping stone to proper development. The progression from having someone physically near you and supporting you to being on your own and crawling on your hands and knees gave a sense of vulnerability between myself and my surroundings. While moving my head around I had to be more aware as a baby is when learning to crawl. That proved to be pretty challenging for me because I just wanted to jump ahead and just walk already, but I had to regress to that infant-like state and imagine the world as something totally new. While maintaining that mindset going from crawling to standing was also a challenge because we had to implement our “tail” into the process. Keeping it up in the air and now walking on hands and feet using our head to look around became more difficult. Once reaching the stage of walking regressing back into the infant state was surprisingly simpler. It was like rewinding a tape and watching the progress, only this time around as we got to the floor we combined our legs and moved backwards with a fishlike motion. Pushing ourselves back towards the wall while also swishing back and forth gave a tail resemblance and I could feel the movement from that state to becoming immobile with just my breath moving me, just as we did at the beginning. Just as Amy Matthews says in the beginning of her video, I think we do lose our developmental movement patterns as we age because we lose touch of our head to tail connection. We forget to implement all parts of our bodies because maybe we forget that they are moveable. We forget how we were created and how the way we developed shaped the way we move today. Staying in touch with our entire body from head to toe is key in developing even more and there is always time to just go back and find ourselves in that vulnerable, infant-like state.

  14. This exercise was very interesting. At first, I didn’t understand why were doing it and had the idea that it was really “basic”. Soon, what came to mind was the idea of evolution. It reminded me of the evolution of the human life: how we started as land animals on all fours and how we have evolved into walking creature. The anatomy of our bones have drastically varied overtime and more densely developed, allowing us to move in all different angles voluntarily.
    I do believe that the head-tail connection is not highly valued/recognized as stated in the video. We often take our bodies (especially, able bodies) for granted. Due to societal views and sterotypes, we are lacking pivotal awareness of the respect of the structures/aspects of our bodies . This ignorance or lack of understanding of natural anatomy is a probable cause of the loss of developmental movement patterns as we get older.

  15. I am really sorry that I was not there during the last class, but by reading the replies my classmates gave above, I bet we did a fun exercise in the last class.

    In Amy Matthews’ video “Why Do We Lose Movement Patterns As We Aged?”, she is basically talking about as we getting older and older, we will lose our movement patterns because of the influences from outside. People will respond to the outside not just to the inside as they aged because they want to be able to interact. This theory really makes sense on me. When I was young, my parents would tell me what could I do, and what I could not do. I won’t try the exercise at all. However, when I get older, I want to try everything because of curiosity. I success sometimes, but I fail either. I had a really bad car accident a year and a half ago, and I got the worst injury in my life. This is not something I want to interact, but it is some influence from outside. My back is still hurting right now. During last winter break, I tried snowboarding and I fell down and hurt my neck. After this second injury, I feel pain once I lift my neck. I am really sad about all these pain I caused to my body, so I started to exercise. A lot of doctors told me if I worked on my muscles, my back will get stronger and stronger. This is exactly what I am doing after all the influences from the outside.

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