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!

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