Many years ago, as a professional ballet dancer, I loved moving in a big, round, spacious manner. For the most part, this worked for me. But it was that other part that, at times, stymied my movements. I often lost my organization and alignment to the unchecked, wild enjoyment of my approach. This was not helpful especially n the corps de ballet where we all were required to move as one.
It reminds me of the adage “learn the rules, then break the rules”. I seem to remember that this was often applied to abstract painters who may have been encouraged to learn to paint figures before splattering paint on a canvas.
But perhaps a better example is the actor playing The Elephant Man twisting himself night after night into a painful shape without having a foundation of alignment to call upon.
You may think that all the rigorous training that ballet dancers go through IS learning the rules. Not necessarily; monkey see, monkey do (admittedly my way of learning) was not taking personal responsibility for controlling my body.
I found a great deal of information about proper alignment from a wonderful teacher, Maggie Black, a stickler for getting up on your leg and purifying movement using a conscious approach to body placement. I wrote about this process here.
Studying with Maggie opened up a door to freedom. Untamed, unconscious movement gave way to conscious awareness of placement and alignment, giving me more confidence. I had learned the clarity of rules and now enjoyed a great foundation where the rules could be gently broken!
Now, cross training has been offered up for dancers (and athletes) to acquire more and more bionic strength, stretch, endurance and extended lines. However helpful, the fact is the bar has been raised to a level where there are still injuries as more and more is expected of ALL dancers, from amateurs to professionals, from ballet to ballroom.
After Maggie moved her studio out of NYC, I injured my back on a grueling tour. Zena Rommett’s Floor Barre® entered my life and I have adopted it as my alignment, healing, and feel good tool for maintaining stability while using joints as they are designed to operate.
This was the only method that helped me regain my previous level of activity. It continues to be my go-to tool for rehabilitating the body. My back injury resurfaced in January and I nursed it through these months with Zena’s work and have healed myself!
I’d like to invite you to try this anatomically sound technique recommended by medical doctors, dancers, actors, and back pain sufferers. It has saved many dancers careers over 30 years. I integrate my Alexander work into this technique to offer the most organic level of movement.
Please click here for more information. Classes starting soon and space is limited!
Happy Dancing! If you know other dancers who may benefit from reading my blog and learning about my upcoming classes, please forward.