We made two 11 hour drives in three days to go perform at the Idaho Dance Education Organization conference. We learned a lot after listening to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History for 22 hours.
We also learned a lot about dance at the conference. This was not an intensive or a training exercise; it was a way for the dance educators of the HUGE state to come together to support one another and share information. While I have no desire to put the majority of my energy into teaching, I do appreciate events like this for the way they advocate for dance and the way dance is taught and who is exposed to it.
As for the performance, it went pretty well, but, once again, a lot of weird things start to happen as soon as you put something on stage, or when you put something on a small, hexagonal shaped stage. I danced particularly hard after being stuck in a car for so long.
One of the most interesting experiences at the conference was learning about Anne Gilbert’s method of warm up and teaching, the Brain Dance, presented by Terry Goetz. We were given a short lecture and then experienced this warm up for ourselves, and I realized that many of my teachers had used similar warm up methods, but now I understood the theory behind it.
I am going to give a short summary of the BrainDance concept, which I believe deserves more exposure than it gets. Of course, to have a fully, fleshed out knowledge of it, one should take a workshop or read the books, but I think we should expose more teachers and movers to the method. I have added my own interpretation and thoughts to the concept.
- Breath: Listen to your breathing. Your body lives through air, and air is vital for your body and mind. Pay attention to your breath and work with it and through it.
- Tactile: touch your body. Slap (nicely), press, squeeze, brush your body. Why do we touch ourselves so little in a field where our bodies are so important? What does pressure feel like?
- Core-Distal: Reach out to our ends to go further. We exist beyond the parameters of the room we are in. We start in our core (Isadora said the solar plexus), wherever you need that to be. Your entire body is linked, it is one, it is whole and every bit of you is important to the other bits. Move from your core out through your distal ends – your core will support you.
- Head-Tail: this modern concept and technique is important beyond a “technical” sense. Our head and tail interact with each other and have a relationship – explore it. Release your head, release your tail, and let your spine be free. “Lively Spine – body attitude is determined at a spinal level”
- Upper-Lower: Ground yourself, your lower half, and accept the support of the earth beneath you. Yield your weight to gravity while allowing your upper body to reach out through the air around you.
- Body-Side: Ground one side and allow the other side to explore through lightness, to lengthen, to reach away and curl back in. Allow both sides of your body to be equal and whole and balanced without worrying about which leg is more flexible or trained.
- Cross-Lateral: Connect your body across your midline – upper right to lower left and so on. You have the freedom and mobility to cross and return.
- Vestibular: Allow yourself to lose your balance in order to gain a greater understanding of your own body and your own weight and your own balance. Don’t be so under yourself to gain a better sense of understanding of your body proportions and coordination.
Going through this pattern on your body in a warm up will give you a better understanding of yourself. Our bodies are not animals that must be beaten into submission; the more we understand the blood and muscle and faschia and bone and fluid that makes us up, the more we are free to move and create. This BrainDance is a great way to explore ourselves.
Though I am planning to move to Seattle when I am done next spring in Idaho, I am also very hopeful about the future of dance in my state. There are many potential dancers and great dancers here who are not able to be exposed to as much as dancers from more populated areas, and conferences like this allow educators to exchange information. We are the descendants of bright eyed pioneers, of the wild west, and we are capable dancers who lack representation in the professional world. We are a community, and we are dancers. Let’s get it.
For more information: Making Connections: Total Body Integration through Bartenieff Fundamentals by Peggy Hackney (1998)