TEDxUCLA 2017: Gravity

A dance of gravity


About Matthew

Matthew is a third year student at UCLA pursuing his Bachelor of Arts degree in the World Arts and Cultures – Dance program. His knowledge of American Sign Language and work experience with deaf people has led Matthew to pursue a Minor in Disabilities Studies. He has trained and studied for eighteen years in various dance styles, and has performed with singers such as The Pointer Sisters, Patti LaBelle, and Charice.


Your life could change instantly at any random moment, like mine did.

Shifts in our monotonous world causes disruptive pressures against us. These pressures influence who we are and who we will become.

We can choose to reject the influence of these pressures because they are not physical. But that does not make them disappear.

Suspending, redirecting, surrendering, defying, and balancing. These are ways that we can manipulate pressures.

Suspending: a quality of movement that creates the impression of effortlessness. In life, we can suspend our issues, holding on until we are strong enough to act on them.

Redirecting: to shift the focus or energy in a new direction. In some cases, the best way to release ourselves from our own turmoil is to help someone resolve theirs.

Surrendering: to cease resistance and give into the void. Mayhem in life is overwhelming at times, and feeding into the madness only adds fuel to the fire.

Stress is sometimes like a Chinese finger trap. The more you resist or get worked up, the tighter the pressure. But when you relax and give into the constraint, your whole world opens up.

Defying: resisting and disobeying pressures constraining you. Rebel against what does not feel right.

Currently, we are at an amazing time where people are defying labels that once restrained them from who they truly are.

Balancing: the ability to centralize weight without being influenced one way or another. Scales are a symbol of balance showing that all actions have a correlated reaction.

We align our body center of gravity in relationship to Earth’s gravitational force.

Everyone feels pressure is constraining them in some manner. Just because we are unable to see something does not mean it does not exist.

For us, dance is a release from tension that is continuously being built. Dancers manipulate pressures as their art form.