“Freedom through movement”. But… freedom from, or freedom to?
People usually use freedom in the sense of “freedom-from”, aka negative freedom: the absence of external constraints.
But inside a movement practice, constraints are the only way to move forward. I don’t want freedom-from gravity… I want gravity, as a constraint, so I can explore inside of it. I don’t want freedom-from my weakness, to run from it… I want to work WITH that weakness, to orient myself towards it. In one sense, constraints serve as the container for movement itself. Constraints allow me to work with ever increasing complexity.
The higher form of freedom inside movement is “freedom-to”, aka, positive freedom: personal agency, the ability to decide to do what I believe is important. Often, there is a contradiction between what I have decided is important to me, and what compels me at the moment. I want to develop my movement practice further, but there is another desire, to practice the things I am already good at, to be free of the constraint of the more challenging task and instead to practice the wrong thing for me. This freedom-to… is the freedom to truly explore.
A movement practice doesn’t orient itself around “freedom-from” – we’ve seen firsthand the limits of a “freedom-from” oriented practice – play that isn’t fulfilling, the absence of true exploration, and unrelenting stagnation… a constraint-free context which doesn’t contribute to growth, and an inevitable return to familiar addictions.
Look closely, and you’ll see the true face of negative freedom – the freedom of a safety pen, unable to venture beyond a familiar existence. Vague promises about being yourself and doing… whatever.
Somebody will try to sell you on “freedom” through movement. But look closer – what kind of freedom are they offering you? The freedom to play inside a safety pen, to never venture beyond your familiar existence? Or is it the freedom to seek critically and pursue what you truly value – an unfolding, ever-widening, always developing movement practice? Do they sell you on vague promises, about being yourself and doing whatever you please? Or do they guide you through a process of autonomy, that puts on the pedestal nothing less than mastery itself.