Someone asked me the other day – assumed, really – that I teach dance.
I don’t teach dance, I teach movement that helps people dance better. I teach coordination and body knowledge. I connect the dots for people between seeing the outside – where you are when you look in the mirror – and how it feels inside, so you can access your own body to move better, dance better.
Inner body knowingness
And the ability to use it in movement.
I experiment on myself all the time.
Sometimes I just want to reach my hands out and help….
Today I was dancing with someone and I could feel something was off. I asked him to dance a simple natural turn and reverse turn, full figures, all the way through. I could see – he wasn’t really completing the body actions. He was traveling across the floor by taking careful steps and lifting his feet, not using his full potential in movement.
I started working by literally holding his head to keep him from moving his body weight from above. Try it sometime; if your head weight is on one foot and stays there, you won’t move that foot to a different place to meet the other foot. You’ll only move when the head weight is freed up. The trick is to do it through a transition and not suddenly shift your entire weight to the free leg and then your new free leg, that should be your standing leg, is now up in space instead of pressing through the floor like velvet.
The trick – the secret – is knowing for real, where your head weight is over your foot, and at the same time, freeing your hip.
You can do that even though you want the hips to come under a little, using the glutes, activating the muscles.
I promise you that if you actually release your joints so your body weight goes into your foot, your muscles will activate in order for you to move. It happens as a result, not out of aiming to use them, and yet you can also intend this to happen and it will.
I have been doing this for myself and learning – really learning – about finding the body parts and not being afraid to use them. Finding the inner edge of my foot in reality, not just saying okay to my teacher and moving the way I always do. Not just thinking something but later seeing video and realizing that I have not done in reality what I thought I was doing, in my mind. Not that – but different – really doing it.
The lesson I practiced on myself yesterday, was learning to move from below – from the hips and feet – while the instinct for some odd reason is to move from the upper body, from above. Is it because in our Western society we are afraid to use our hips and pelvis? Strange thoughts cross my mind. Latin dancers learn to use their hips and if they’re ever going to spin on their axis, they have to keep their heads up on top. Standard dancers are all too often stiff in the hips and their heads and necks are not always in perfect alignment with the rest of their body. That throws everything else off; the head is heavy and if it’s out of alignment then the muscles of the body have to brace to prevent falling. You can read about that HERE.
As we dance, we “know” that we need to end up in a certain place. In a natural turn in Waltz, that would be feet closed, or feet together. I don’t know how you think of it. I’m trained to think of it as “closing my feet.”
In reality, though, in going through the process of movement which is what dance is all about, I don’t lift my foot to close my feet. They close because I move through space in such a way that the hips release, I am using one edge of my moving foot and then as my hips move and my head and body weight gradually come over that new standing leg, both feet press the floor and my legs are drawn under my body and feet draw together because that’s where they’re attached to – or come out from – my body.
I teach the secret of using the head weight and releasing the hips – releasing any and all of the joints you need to use to move well, to achieve your full potential in movement, in dance.
I don’t teach dance, I teach movement and freedom in the body, inner body knowingness that lets you achieve the full potential that you own, within whatever structural limitations that your body may have.
I honor the structure and then we get to work, finding out where the limitations truly are. Sometimes those limitations are only a way of thinking that gets in the way of moving better. Sometimes it is the thoughts we think right before we move that lock us up. We can discover those thoughts and learn to “think different” in order to move better.
I’m all about freedom in thinking and freedom in the body. Finding your own joints and muscles in a different way, body knowledge on the inside that frees you to move out on the dance floor. Bigger, better, balanced; free.
Last night, I learned that for me, it is about No Fear. And Move.
What have you discovered lately?
P.S. I teach privately in the Bay Area. Sign up for my email list to hear about upcoming classes and workshops, or contact me for an introductory lesson.