Thinking about arms

Thinking about arms

What do you think are the function of arms in the performance of dance?

Justine, Susan, Jennifer jam about arms:


  • so much of my early training referred to arms as a ‘frame’. this image was static for me. it created tension in my body.  Later, when i moved into more improvisational/somatic movement practices I was able to connect my arms to the workings of the rest of my body…less of a frame and more of a tassel or flag.
  • Through studying a number of approaches to floor work, my arms became a second set of feet and an architectural structure for which to deal with the horizontal plane.
  • Through studying with Helen Walkley, I began to explore how my arms connect to my organs (you mentioned pancreas, Jennifer)….connecting the movement of my lungs to my arms was a large revelation for me.  I often refer to my arms and legs as my sails….a way to connect with space beyond the reach of my limbs; an entry point to the notion of volume within the limbs that can then feed into the upper body and pelvis.


  •  Line.  Expression.  Form.  Together with the gaze and the line of the spine, arms give gesture. They make environments, mood, and complete the line from spine out through digits.  They complete or transform an impulse
  • The arms connect intellect to creature.
  • I see fingers as the final articulation of an impulse.


  •  If you’re not interested in transformation, no need to find your arms.
  • Today in rehearsal we could see that there was a completely different feeling about an arm when the hand was holding a leg to a hand that was not holding anything. The contrast was significant enough that it was clear they didn’t belong next to each other.
  • When you speak of your arms as wings, for example, it suggests the understanding which you have of the space between the arm and the body. What is an arm when it doesn’t have this understanding?
  • We recently watched many performances at the Dancing on the Edge Festival, and I’ve been seeing that dancers who prefer vertical stances to moving through space off balance use their arms in different ways.
  • I would like to hear a dancer talk about their relationship to their arms.
  • Working on the glands to shift and catch weight in Not Only But Also it took me years and years up until the White Spider be able to feel that using the pancreas, finding the arms and feeling that they were part of the same premise of the dance.
  •  hands and heart/ arms and pancreas
  •  You can’t reach without the support of the push.
  • As an audience it is the hands and face that tell.