Life is a full on Movement Cycle

Open Floor Movement Cycle

The Open Floor movement cycle in every day life

The Movement Cycle is a useful intellectual and embodied map of how physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy moves through time. We find ourselves in the movement cycle in our everyday lives and it is the foundation we build our classes and workshops on in Open Floor Movement Practice. 

The Movement Cycle can support this cycling of energy and allow us, as movers, to develop a rich, meaningful, and creative learning experience. We can learn to recognize the movement cycle of emotion as it arises and subsides in our movement practice. We can then use our embodied experience off the dance floor to let a sudden, strong feeling move through its natural cycle and settle, rather than push it away or allow it to take over… Through a class and throughout your day, you may notice all the natural mini-cycles of activity and rest, effort and release, fullness and emptiness. These cycles can last for minutes, hours or days. Life itself is a full-on movement cycle.  

The four phases of the Movement Cycle are

Open Attention > Enter > Explore > Settle

You may know the Movement Cycle from other studies or experiences. The energetic spiral of a movement cycle can be found everywhere.  Here are a few other practices in which the four phases of the cycle show up which may be familiar to you: 


A conversation between friends

OPEN ATTENTION: Hi, how are you? What have you been doing today? How’s the weather, etc… – small talk as we arrive and get present with each other

ENTER: Something that is compelling between us, perhaps something that needs to be discussed between us or something big going on in one of our lives

EXPLORE: Anecdotes, elaborations, feelings, additional information, explicit conversations, requests, demands, preferences, needs and responses to all of the above

SETTLE: Reflection on how both feel about the topic in the moment and back to open attention, around the cycle again


OPEN ATTENTION: Attention to breath, a short meditation, getting present, chanting, asana or sequences to warm up the body

ENTER: Poses focused on specific areas of the body

EXPLORE: Different breakdowns and sequences of poses, new possibilities or levels of complication deepen through asana and/or movement

SETTLE: Savasana

Traditional Jazz dance

OPEN ATTENTION: Gathering together, finding our place in the room, attention to proximity, distance and mirror view, attention to teacher and other dancers – often includes a warm-up sequence of isolations

ENTER: Teacher proposes a choreography to focus on

EXPLORE: Teacher and students practice, rehearse, memorize and dance it with their own flair

SETTLE: Cool down, warm down

Gestalt Awareness Practice

GAP OPEN ATTENTION: Mindfulness, expressed as “now I am aware of….”

ENTER: Moving towards and into a figure, a feeling, a sensation that has emerged in the foreground from the background overall experience

EXPLORE: Through the experience of “becoming” + dialogue, looking at choice and new possibilities

SETTLE: Sensing the outcome, the new choices, feedback from group, echoes


OPEN ATTENTION: How are we feeling? What is sensual, erotic, compelling – is there a pull of attraction?

ENTER: Going towards that more fully and more intently, foreplay

EXPLORE: Perhaps expanding contact through petting, cuddling, discovering new sensations, relaxing in relation to each other. Sometimes the interaction builds energy and moves towards climax, sometimes not.

SETTLE: Letting go of further intention, relaxing and resting

Being aware of the Movement Cycle, does not mean we predetermine what will happen, nor how each phase will happen – only that they do happen. A key value in Open Floor is embracing and moving with the unknown. Our movement practice fosters the skill of moving through this cycle mindfully as a way to navigate and keep present with experience as it unfolds. In a class or workshop you will be offered guidelines, images, anchors, touch points, themes, creative problems, and inquiries that can help you find your own creativity, your own meaning and current or new pathways through the cycle.

The Movement Cycle becomes like the “main stream of the river”: even though we know there are tributaries, eddies, rapids, falls and pools of still water along the way, your teacher can bring the group back into the cycle where each student may have left off, and support completion.

The Movement Cycle works as a container for our dance because we all know it on a human level, without thinking about it. It is everywhere in our lives. It’s a universal language that supports and enriches the Open Floor movement practice.

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