“Most dance asks ‘what can my arm do’, whereas Hijikata asked, ‘what is my arm?'” – Tanya Calamoneri¹
This section can be for the purposes of physical conditioning, but it is always best to be guided by imagery or qualias. What twists in life? What resonates (or even spicier, what is the shadow) that so happens to twist? Once the qualia is found, this is what is doing the twisting.
Parts of the body that can twist: forearm, upper arm, leg, all parts of the spine, face. All twisting movements can either be micro or large.
Exercise 1: Arm Twist
Something rotates your arm internally to the maximum from shoulder to finger. Then the body is allowed to twist in order to find even more rotation. Your extremity will wind up behind you. It will be the same as if somebody were twisting your arm. Your body follows. Do the same with external rotation. Experiment with using breath with these internal and external rotations.
Exercise 2: Upper Extremity Alternating Twist (Single Arm)
After you have gotten familiar with the maximum upper extremity twists, alternate from internal to external movement in a flow. What you will look for is that you go from your arm being twisted above your shoulder to below your shoulder.
Exercise 3: Upper Extremity Alternating Twist (Both Arms)
This is the same exercise, but both arms are engaged at the same time, except that the arms do the opposite. So when one arm is at internal rotation, the other will always be in external rotation, vise versa.
Walk with the natural X counterbalance, alternate between complete internal rotations of the extremities into neutral then into external and repeat. You can even add qualias to the three varying steps. For instance, internal movement can be a monster, neutral a human, and external an angel. It is recommended to also add spinal curvature to the walks, so that internal rotations come attached with a hunch forward, whereas neutral, no curvature or neutral spine, and finally with external as a hyperextended spine.
Exercise 5: Coil
Experiment with coiling one extremity to another like a snake on a tree, leg to arm, arm to arm, etc. Take to maximum coil. Move in many directions both in the body and in the space during being coiled. One can also coil two sets of extremities simultaneously. Then experiment with coiling any other surface with the limbs such as the head or torso.
When the limbs are deterritorialized, their usual human function and relocates somewhere else (gets reterritorialized somewhere else). The two “hidden” limbs have been imagined to be the head and the tail. Rotate the head and the tail. But, where else can we go? Can the entire spine become yet another limb? Rotate/twist.
¹ Calamoneri, Tanya. Dancing Hamlet in a World of Frogs: butoh and the actor’s inner landscape. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 7:3, Page 383. 2016.