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Davis, California

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

De-stressed by the movement of a hand

Imagine lifting all that emotional weight off your shoulders in one simple movement – according to Professor Emeritus Bobbie Bolden, this is an achievable goal.

Bolden will be teaching a course starting Oct. 8 at the Davis Art Center about InterPlay, an international movement which aims to “to unlock the wisdom of the body,” according to the InterPlay Worldwide website.

InterPlay involves “little structures,” a method better understood through observation than by words, as Bolden worked to explain in a phone interview. Using an example from her freshman seminar, Bolden said that she asks her students to work alone or in groups, conduct simple body movements and improvise based on the guidelines.

“I give certain kinds of basic things you can do [with your hands like] press, pull to make shapes, drop contact … and see what’s come up with in the moment,” she said. “It teaches you to think critically, to react quickly and to begin to know and trust your inner self.”

Other methods involve “playing” with song, pure improvisation and even lack of movement to achieve an easy focus. These methods help develop one’s own physical body experience, and as a result feel more balanced in everyday life and relationships.

“You expect as a child to play,” said Lisa Thomas, a former colleague of Bolden in the department of theatre and dance who now advises in the McNair Scholars Program, based in Hutchison Hall. “And it’s generally all gone as an adult and [no longer] socially acceptable. Remembering to play is important because it brings us back into who we are and [back to the] experience of joy.”

Whether a person is disabled or active, young or old, needing relief from the workplace or from a hectic school schedule, the practice of InterPlay teaches them to understand and control their own external and internal authorities.

“The mode of expression in an academic community can be constrained and regimented,” Thomas said, which is a potential reason that a student could benefit from an alternative form of self-discovery.

“There is one thing that is structured, and that is [the first rule:] pay attention, listen to and take care of your own body,” Bolden said.

Bolden is a longtime dancer, choreographer and instructor; her first position at UC Davis was in the physical education department in 1985. In 1995, she was given a joint appointment with the departments of theatre and dance as well as African American studies, teaching everything from modern, jazz and African Caribbean dance to introductory drama. She retired in 2003, but throughout her 18 years at Davis and in her master’s thesis, Bolden was drawn to the relationship of movement and spirituality.

“[It] was an underlying theme of what I was about,” Bolden said. “I was beginning to see that meaning touched another place greater than where you were in this world.”

But Bolden’s return to UC Davis was prompted by her training in InterPlay. Like trained instructors, Bolden felt it a calling to spread the secrets of mind and body awareness with others. She is a part of the Center for Spiritual Learning in Davis in addition to teaching her inaugural freshman seminar and the upcoming Davis Art Center course.

“[Both classes] have the same benefits, but the focus at the Art Center is more or less going to come out of who is there,” she said. When asked what the go-home message of InterPlay is, Bolden said that it is to “recogniz[e] that play, finding ease and having fun are very important to [personal] success.”

The InterPlay course with Bobbie Bolden will take place from Oct. 8 to 12 at the Davis Art Center. To register, visit the Center at 1919 F St., call 756-4100 or visit davisartcenter.org.


NICOLE L. BROWNER can be reached at arts@californiaaggie.com.



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