Hello my friends!
Today I was looking at a picture from Yosemite.
My friends commented how relaxed and happy I looked. They were noticing the absence of something.
It was the absence of tension I didn’t even know was there, till it was gone.
Even more, not until someone else pointed it out.
Me, I just felt good up in Yosemite. I left all my troubles at home and was hiking and tent camping for the first time in my life, looking all around and discovering how beautiful the mountains could be. The water, the air, the sky, and watching out for bears at night, had my attention. Stressful thoughts were far away. Bliss.
The same thing crossed my mind in dancing yesterday, that it’s what we don’t feel and see that we most need to learn.
More and more, it seems to me that it’s about maintaining poise while using the legs.
Often, what I see is people falling into pieces – that’s my problem all to often – and of course some people are a bit stiff, more like blocks that don’t bend – too much in either direction is not good.
Me, I need to work on places that suddenly lose energy and I don’t feel them till someone points it out. Yikes.
“I fall to pieces….” Do you know that song? Patsy Cline sings it here. It’s so romantic and there’s something familiar and nice in that feeling of letting go…I can take one step and something lets go…my arm, unfortunately.
However, going by the feeling isn’t working because obviously if I could feel it correctly, I’d fix the problem.
So what I need to do is TRUE UP my FEELING and then I can use it in dance. I don’t have time for anything else in the moment, on the floor. I have to connect my thinking brain to my feeling body so I can use it on the dance floor.
I need to work on keeping my poise while using my legs.
It’s a little bit like rubbing my head and patting my stomach. Do one and the other falls apart. Finding a way to be coordinated, ah, there’s the key.
My teacher uses ideas from sports. Listening to him, a long-ago memory came to me. I used to fence Saber, in college. It was fierce. The rest of the class was all male – some of them were over 6 feet tall, 18 or 20 years old and wired up on testosterone. I’d come back to my dorm room with stripes on my flank, especially the right side. One momentary lapse of awareness and I’d get whacked, hard. The tip of the saber would whip around my blade and strike my side, under the arm. Stripes…
But there were rare occasions that I’d be grounded; centered and calm in myself. On those special days, they couldn’t touch me. Like a Jedi, quiet inside and at the same time, all is active; ready to go.
I lived for those moments. Like dancing. I live for those moments, effortless yet all is working…
The fencing master used to walk up calmly and hit me on the head. I’d know it was coming but couldn’t stop myself; I’d react to his approach and then he’d hit me, every time. Gaining consciousness has its price.
One thing I learned was to hold my poise and use my feet. “Retreat! Retreat!” I can hear his voice today; “…he who runs away, lives to fight another day!”
Today in the dance studio I think of fencing and my body remembers; it takes an active poise on my feet. Balanced, alert, ready for action.
But not tense; it’s springy.
Catching a glimpse of Me-as-Fencer in the mirror, I see lines. My neck is long, not contracted in to my shoulders.
It was amazing how active my body could be just standing there, but not tense.
What I see in the mirror is alertness – and the absence of something – the absence of tension.
It doesn’t feel like me but it also feels like not-me, like 20 year old me, fencing with 6 foot tall sophomores in college. On most days they could hit me at will, but when I got grounded and quiet in myself, they couldn’t touch me.
Inhibiting fear – controlling the nervous system – applying the Alexander Technique to my own dancing is helping. Learning not to kick out the free leg at the wrong time… Knowing where my head poise is and being able to free my neck at will…
No fear; I almost don’t recognize myself flying across the floor.
No hesitation – I fly – movement is better – I make mistakes, I overshoot, but today I am not upset with myself.
Telling myself: Dare to be bold, renew the poise, take my shield and saber with me, don’t leave the arms behind.
Move the feet, make big mistakes but make big progress in what matters.
Head on top! Finding the poise, body toned as a fencer.
Renewing the freedom of my head on top of my spine and suddenly my movement flows.
Memories come of the fencing master, walking around in a big circle and talking while we are in a deep lunge, thighs burning, not daring to yield.
Burning our quads with intensity that we will remember for days to come when walking down the stairs. Helping us feel this pain today so the it will never be as bad again. Breaking through our own barriers of the limitations of our minds as to what we are able to do.
Saying to myself: Be not afraid. Take the sword in hand and be grounded. Be poised on the dance floor and feel my feet, keep the poise.
My feet don’t hurt anymore; I am suddenly higher and higher up on my toes.
It is the mind that rules the body, willing to take stripes of embarrassment for looking like a fool but flying on the floor, taking this Alexander body awareness and sharing it….so that you may be inspired….so that one day I may show you how to have your head high without tensing your neck. Sensing that freedom and using it…
This is my passion, to show dancers how to have even more freedom and space inside their own bodies.
So they can know it better from the inside and use that body knowledge to be a better dancer.
Freedom, balance, a way of connecting mind to muscles to control the whole…
Let me show you.
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