Unlearning through dance fundamentals

So much harder than it looks

I’m so glad that I decided to attend this term’s new Perfect Lines class regularly. It’s been  awesome!

A big focus of the class is on proper dance alignment and body mechanics, which I’ve always been pretty fascinated with. (Because strength has literally never been my strong suit, I’ve always felt the need to find out how exactly to execute something physically in the most efficient way using my body’s limited strength.)

The instructor teaching it has a strong background in ballet and teaches from the same principles. We’d already been working on the principles of proper turnout for the past few weeks, and how to use it to properly engage in and out of pole tricks.

Personally, I always found that I could never balance while standing in turnout due to my strangely knocked-knees, and they always felt painfully strained whenever I tried. And it’s no wonder, cos it turns out (couldn’t resist) that I’ve been doing it wrong all this time.

Well, Duh!

I’d been trying to simply force my poor feet outwards without rotating from the hips or using my muscles to hold me in place. And even after getting my stance corrected, I know it’s still slightly more challenging to work around my wonky turned-in knees that are also unevenly hyper extended.

But during the adjustments, I knew I’d got it right when I felt everything suddenly engage from the waist-down! Basically, I had a moment of being acutely aware of my ass spontaneously lifting and activating my entire legs and core into work too.

Whoa! No wonder ballerinas have that kind of super-human strength it takes to dance en pointe or do anything ballet related… they engage their muscles even while standing!

Which led me to wonder: Do pole dancers?

I’m sure Bobbi / Felix / Jenyne / Alethea and the rest of the pros do of course, as would anyone who’s had some form of dance or gymnastics training… But what about the rest of us?

Anyway, after getting my turnout engagement right and learning how to sweep one leg up while keeping it already engaged, (no kicking, minimal swinging, hips stay aligned, and body stays erect.. and sheesh that’s a lot to remember) lifting into spins felt much lighter than usual.

The same principles apply to inverting as well. Apparently when you learn how to engage your legs correctly, it makes things much easier for your upper body. And the feet naturally point as a result of the whole leg being fully engaged.

That make sense, right? I mean, I definitely know that my legs are not well engaged when my feet start to flex! But now I feel like I need to go back to all the basics and re-learn to do them properly before moving up any further.

Which makes me feel slightly conflicted! Cos on the one hand, I don’t want to keep swinging and flexing into everything without engaging properly.. but on the other hand, all that might make me progress even slower than I already am… Ugh!

About Chwenny

Body, soul, and pole!
This entry was posted in Gimme some Dancing! and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Unlearning through dance fundamentals

  1. Debs says:

    Teach me some of these awesome techniques please?? *puppy eyes*

  2. Debs says:

    Yay! Cos the class is full 😦

  3. Oh I wish a studio around here offered something like that! I’ve already considered ballet lessons, just wish I could bring a pole to class.
    Can’t wait to see videos of your improved lines, you already have so much grace

  4. Angela says:

    This has been on my mind SO much lately! Every time I learn the “right” way to engage a set of muscles the related moves are soooo much easier and more graceful and I want that for everything. I have no idea how to learn that, though. My classes don’t take the time to go through every little tweak a person could do to improve (uh, that would be a private lesson) so if you ever find any vids or tutorials, please let us know. Good luck!!

  5. ameliakelly says:

    this sounds really fascinating. I’m obsessed with alignment/efficiency too, so I might have to give ballet another try… what a great class idea!

  6. e* says:

    yeah, i was doing weekly absolute beginner ballet classes for a while to improve my lines and core strength… and it was surprisingly hard work for ‘just moving your legs around’ (which is what i thought it looked like), if you concentrate to engage things properly.
    and i realised after that, that i had been doing everything (inverted V etc.) with my belly / core just hanging loose and chilling out (i think i still do that if i skip ballet lessons for some time). my instructors are like: wow, it’s amazing you’ve got to this level without engaging your core. oops…

  7. Chwenny says:

    @ flyingspinner, thanks luv! I’m not sure my lines will improve visibly yet.. it takes so much more strength and effort to engage in an entire routine and I get all scrambled up by the first combo!

    @Angela, try this: http://danceadvantage.net/directory/my-pages/

    @Ameliakelly, I know right? So tempted to give it another go too! As if I don’t already have enough things to cram into a week, LoL

    @e*, that’s so totally inspiring! You’re so making me want to try ballet again, sigh.. the ballerinas have it down!!

  8. Miss Gumby says:

    I’m starting adult ballet for this EXACT reason. My studio doesnt offer a class like this so I thought i’d go straight to the original. (i kinda think of ballet like a mother sauce of dancing- everything else comes from it!)

  9. Pingback: Pole + Bellydance… | The Spin Diaries

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