Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Centrifugal Bodies

I am taking a contemporary dance workshop this week with Dana Gingras of The Holy Body Tattoo Dance Company. She has been dancing and choreographing for over twenty years and has developed a whole repetoire based upon the concept of the body flying through space using the centrifugal force. I really enjoy studying with her because like me she is very tall. Sometimes it is said in dance that it is difficult for tall people to move quickly with our long limbs. Dana proves this theory wrong as she flies through the air with such grace only inches from the floor.

So far this is what I understand from her methodology:
Her movement is very fast and near to the ground. One would imagine that in order to execute a sequence of fast movements the most logical method would be to move the body in straight lines (the shortest route) directly from point A to point B. Rather than moving directly from point A to point B, Dana has us move in curbs, circular, and spirals in order to make use of the centrifugal force the help to get from point A to point B using either gravity or anti-gravity (centrufugal/centri-petal). Moving in this circular manner generates momentum, and allows for 'rides' as she calls them. Her choreography is quite complex but once you get it and are able to 'play' within it it is a lot of fun. She also uses fatigue and soreness as a tool. Her theory is that once your body is bruised and sore, you have to come up with ways to move so that you don't agrevate these sensitive areas. You become 'smarter' learning to use your body in a more economical way, releasing more and saving energy for times when it is really needed. The speed of the floorwork sequences also force us to use our feet, performing push/pull actions in order to get the body where it needs to go. These push/pull actions are derived from BMC/developmental patterning. Dana is also big on flow. Today she made a reference to hula hooping, saying that you never want to stop have to reach each part of the circle to keep the energy going.

Dana uses gyrokinesis as a way to train for her method of dancing. She says that open hips are very important for floor work and allow you to roll through the joints more easily and hence quickly. Gyrokinesis is a great way to cross-train for hooping. All the movements are based on circles and spirals initiated from the spine. If you have ever done chi gong, you may find similarities in the approach to the energetic body. Here is a quote from the gyrotonic website with reference to gyrokinesis 'Fluidity is the key. Postures are not held for long periods of time. Instead, postures are smoothly and harmoniously connected through the use of breath, making exercises appear and feel more like a dance and swimming than like traditional yoga.'

I find all of this extremely interesting and directly applicable to hoopdancing. As hoopers we are used to working with the centrifugal force in order guide the hoop both up and down in space. It is interesting to think about propelling both the body and the hoop through space using the centrifugal force. I am working with these principles in my hoop rehearsals this week and it is really blowing my mind! I am going to have to find some creative ways to economize my energy tomorrow as i am covered in holy body tattoos (aka bruises) from all this floorwork. It is definitely worth it though!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Centrifugal Force

Water streaming into a shallow dish creates a large whirlpool. As the water drains, intricate surface waves spiral in and out of the center and the entire vortex begins to slowly oscillate, revolving around the drain. The oscillations grow with each revolution until the vortex is so unstable that it breaks away from the drain and a new vortex immediately forms.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Holiday Hoop Flow Fusion! Cultivating a multidimensional Hoop Practice

For me the holiday season represents a time of rest, renewal and preparation for the new year. I have taken this time to take a break from my intense training regimen of the fall of acrobatics, hoopdance and iyengar yoga to shift my focus towards deepening my yoga practice through vinyasa flow yoga (Shiva Rae Style) in preparation for my new job as a flow yoga teacher at Studio Bliss. I have also been reading and writing a lot about yoga, fitness and hooping in preparation for the upcoming ihoopu Teacher Training Program.

I am fortunate enough to be able to enjoy a holiday season filled with abundance, from colorful meals to warm family celebrations and travels from coast to coast. I am starting 2010 feeling strong and fully inspired for all the exciting projects that lie ahead of me. I am grateful for my friends & family, my city and of course my students.

I love the energy and feeling of renewal of each new year. My focus this year is presence and embodiment. My intention is to carry these words into every task, project and interaction that I embark on. It starts with every day tasks however, I hope to carry these principles into my dance, into my teaching, and most of all into my practice of hooping, yoga, and acrobatics.

This has been an extremely enriching process and has made me reflect on the element of fusion. From a young age I have always participated in many forms of dance such as ballet, jazz & tap, played several instruments including piano, violin, stand-up bass & clarinet and played competitive team sports. This combination of arts, rhythm and physical embodiment has given me the strength, flexibility & agility to do almost anything in my life

It is always important to have a teacher or guide when learning something new.
Not having a hoop teacher to guide me in my hooping practice, I sought out mentors in other physical fields to guide me. The main discipline being contemporary dance, followed closely by yoga gyrotonics and pilates.

In the fall my physical practice involved a combination of iyengar yoga, acrobatics, and hooping. In enjoyed this fusion because the acrobatics enabled me to push my limits and boundaries to observe my physical limitations, the hooping allowed me to find flow practice my choreographic skills, and the iyengar yoga created a space for me to replace my body into a healthy alignment, reconnect to the earth and respect my body.

Over the holidays I played with the fusion of hooping, hot yoga and vinysasa flow yoga. I often feel sluggish during the holidays but I found this combination helped open me up and keep me warm and liberated for the coming year. Hot yoga heats the body from the outside and vinyasa flow heats the body from the inside. It is extremely important to cultivate heat in these winter months in order to keep the joints lubricated an maintain our flow as hoopers. I wonder if anyone has ever tried 'hot room hooping'? I imagine it would be slippery, maybe we should stick to generating heat from the inside out!

Looking forward to the first hoopdance class of the session this coming Monday!

Happy hooping!!