From Wikipedia: A Euclidean vector (sometimes called simply a vector) is a geometric object that has magnitude (or length) and direction…frequently represented by a line segment with a definite direction, or graphically as an arrow.
Surprise, surprise I like to spend some time browsing on Facebook. I can guess that like many of you, in my feed appear many Pilates related posts. One day last spring appeared something like this pic to the left. I had no idea of how it related to Pilates, except for the title of the piece ‘Side Bend’. The visceral reaction within was that I liked what I saw, I recognised intelligence and skill.
Yes, I was impressed and was drawn to investigate further. To my delight, I found a full series of these drawings, one for every exercise found in Joe Pilates’ ‘Return to Life’.
And to further my pleasure, I found that the creator of these works was my fellow Stockholm Pilates colleague, Fredrik Prag. Fred is a bit of a Pilates hermit, so I do not see him too often, but I like him and know that he is fully dedicated to the Pilates technique, and so I asked if we could meet and talk about his latest of many ventures, to which he agreed.
Of course, I asked Fredrik about the original idea behind this brilliant series.
“Some years ago I attended a four-day introduction seminar on chiropractic techniques, just out of interest. There they introduced a concept of the natural placement of bones, that each has its specific place depending on the individual, and that optimal functioning of the body is dependent on the integrity of this placement. Here I also was introduced to vectors…the direction of force needed when applying chiropractic manipulation.”
“The concept fascinated me, and ‘vectors’ stayed with me…. I loved the word. I was intuitively informed by this small exposure to chiropractic concepts. Over time, while teaching, a growing sense of the vectors of force in the vertebrae occurred in me.
“And so it happened that one client could not understand the Backstroke on the Reformer through my words and demonstrations. Being one to always look for new ways to convey ideas to my students, I sat down and drew for her the right way to do it, and the wrong way to do it. I presented my work to her without a word….and to my (and her) surprise, she performed the Backstroke as I wished her to do. It was clear that a deeper understanding had been conveyed. Okay?”
“I subsequently posted the drawing on Facebook, and the feedback was wonderfully positive, with some comments that it was art. My friend, Benjamin Degenhardt, (the creator of the popular ‘March Matness’) called and invited me to participate in March Matness 2015 by drawing each of the original 32 exercises found in in Return to Life. And given that I used to be an artist, creating paintings and stuff, I gladly accepted, and the response continued to be positive.
“My vector drawings are an expression of my understanding of what is happening in the body, the energy flow, that occurs during the represented exercise. The drawings represent from a feeling within me and how I would try to describe to a body in front of me, without words, the exercise.”
“Everything has inherently its place. So if you can get into that abstract, which is not abstract, but it is abstract in the world of Pilates, I would say, because I am trying to instruct verbally or with my body an inherent manner of movement. This is why vectors come into play so naturally, they allow the practitioner to get into another place in the body, and makes the work more enjoyable while deepening the awareness. My drawings are a catalyst for a deeper investigation of what the specific exercise is about…and in that a deeper look into Pilates itself.
“Each drawing is an expression of my understanding of the energy flow that occurs during a specific exercise, and how I might wordlessly communicate that to an individual body before me. This communication is highly personal; there might possibly be a different drawing for each person. When it happens that a drawing causes a person to express his/her feeling of a certain ‘yes, that is true’ – then I am delighted. That people relate to my work and find it beautiful pleases me. The success of these drawings lead me to create the Facebook page ‘Intuitive Body Synthesis & Art of Movement’ , expressing how to move the body in certain angles of energy.
Fred explains what he had in mind with his ‘Swan’.
“The upward arching vectors represent a deep connection to the abdominal wall – the support from the power house. One should attempt to maintain this arc shape throughout the exercise. The horizontal base vector demonstrates an energy of length through the body that is necessary to attain that fluid arc I mentioned. The zig-zag pattern under the lower half of the arc represents a deep grounding to the floor required to take the exercise high while maintaining ease in the movement. And yeah, the dots at the vectors’ ends express a tingling, flowing sensation of the exercise – also an expression of ease.
Fred finishes with “So that’s it.”
Yepp…that’s it, from a person in many ways beautiful and sensitive, and who has impressively actualised his gifts in many ways…these drawings being but one of them.
His work inspires a tireless contemplation of the move represented.
True works of art.