I met Tatiana Pará virtually after she responded to a post of mine asking if any other GYROTONIC® trainers have anything interesting to share – and she sure did!
Tatiana is a dancer, teacher, researcher, therapist and somatic educator specialized in the GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® methods. Based in Rio de Janeiro since 2007, she’s dedicated herself exclusively to teaching and researching the GYROTONIC® method, working with renowned actors and dancers in her studio, Studio Tatiana Pará.
She’s currently a Master’s student and researcher at the Postgraduate Program in Dance at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The following is the beginning of her current research focusing on the Gyrotonic Method, Contemporary Dance, Somatics and a Dancers’ artistic preparation.
Sink your teeth into this! Enjoy.
DIALOGUES BETWEEN THE GYROTONIC® METHOD AND CONTEMPORARY DANCE: A SOMATIC APPROACH TO DANCERS ARTISTIC PREPARATION
Translated from Brazilian Portuguese to English.
This article is part of my research as a Master’s student in Dance from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. As a dancer and movement educator for more than twenty years, I have always been interested in how somatic practices could improve my performance, not only regarding the physical aspects, but also as a way to develop artistic skills.
With a strong background in ballet, I began to practice both Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis methods in 1998. Since then, I became very passionate about how my body could find different ways to move and with an awareness I hadn’t experienced before in the ballet classes. After many years, since I had become both a Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis teacher, I started to see dancers and actors coming into my classes. I began to feel curious about the reason why they kept coming and how they could apply that experience into their artistic processes.
In my previous researches, before enrolling into the Master’s Program in Dance, I found only a few academic productions regarding the Gyrotonic method. However, I found many on the Somatic Education field. Sylvie Fortin, one of the pioneer researchers in Somatic Education and professor in the Dance department at the University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM), lists three aspects of the Somatic Education that “affect both performers, choreographers and teachers: improving technique, preventing and curing trauma, and developing expressive skills” (Fortin, 1999, p. 41). It’s about the last one that my research intends to investigate.
According to Fortin, the somatic methods should provide a global reorganization of the experience and favor a work that is part of a research on body neutrality and motor versatility. The development of the expressive skills in dance pointed out by Fortin leads us to somatic practices as facilitators for the investigation processes through the body movement. The Gyrotonic method and its holistic approach, with special attention to a three-dimensional awareness of the body and its relationship with gravity and space, can point to a relevant foundation to be considered in the development of the expressive skills of the contemporary dancers.
One of the main aspects of the method is the movement initiated from the pelvis and the spine. Laurence Louppe, historian and dance critic, author of ‘Poetics of Contemporary Dance’, reflects on how the birth of contemporary dance rescues the primacy of the trunk as a supreme center of expression (Louppe, 2012, p.73). Louppe emphasizes that the meaning of contemporary dance consists in the liberation of a body of origin and a long search for a body in the process of becoming (Louppe, 2012, p.83).
According to the author, several somatic practices can facilitate this process. Thus, the Gyrotonic method can offer tools to the preparation of the scenic body, based on the kinesthetic sensations, the opening of perceptual channels and the expansion of the consciousness levels and the motor repertoire of dancers.
In January of 2019, the Dance department of the University of Québec in Montréal released a podcast on the website called “Territoires Partagés” (Flynn, 2019) with testimonials from three artists that take Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis classes as complementary practices to technical dance classes. The testimonials express some modifications felt by the dancers after the beginning of their experience with the method.
One of the artists remarks that the Gyrotonic practice helped her to focus and to improve concentration levels, as well as allowing her a better awareness about her breathing. Another interviewed dancer reports feeling an opening of her sensory and perception channels, and the development of self, space and relation to the others awareness. She also tells that the practice of the Gyrotonic method has provided her a balance between connecting to her inner self and to the external world, expanding simultaneously her capacity to be present and to be aware of the space that surrounds her.
According to Juliu Horvath (2006), Gyrotonic founder and creator, “the ultimate aim is to be at home in one’s body, to be at one with the nature of oneself, and to experience exercise as a creative and delightful experience”. I understand that “to be at home in one’s body” means to be connect to yourself, to get rid of patterns and to open up to new perceptions and to be able to develop an ability to be present in the experience.
Although my research is still in the beginning, it’s already possible to make some connections between the Gyrotonic method and the artistic preparation of the contemporary dancers. According to Louppe:
The freedom of such and indeterminate body would not have been possible without the body knowledge applied since the beginning of the century, without the observation of the various states of organic tissues in the various areas of the musculature… In other words, this would not have happened without recognizing the countless possible paths, where a wandering awareness explores in depth organic circuits to better extract from them a promise of freedom and not submission.(LOUPPE, 2012, p. 88)
In the Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis methods we are constantly experiencing new ways of moving and finding new paths, opening spaces internally and allowing the body to be grounded and free at the same time. In order to perceive those changes, one must be present in the experience as a whole being, in a state of awareness that involves attention, intention, presence and openness. Therefore, all those aspects are essential to let the new sensations to emerge, which is a necessary foundation for creative and expressive processes in the Performing Arts.
FORTIN, Sylvie. Somatic Education: new ingredient of practical dance training. (M. Strazacappa, Trad.) In: GIPE-CIT N. 2 Notebooks. Salvador: UFBA, 40-55, february. 1999.
GYROTONIC®, International Headquarters. About. Dingmans Ferry, 2019. Available in <https://www.gyrotonic.com/about/>.
HORVATH, Juliu. GYROTONIC® Level 1 Foundation Teacher Training Course. Miami: Gyrotonic Sales Corp, 2006.
LOUPPE, Laurence. Poetics of Contemporary Dance. Lisbon: Orfeu Negro, 2012.
From left to right: Poster Presenters Jennifer S. Dalva, Jeanine Ferrone, Rita Renha, & Marni Larkin
From teaching to speaking with medical professionals first hand, Specialized GYROTONIC® Master Trainer Rita Renha wrote an open letter about the progress that’s happening between dance rehabilitation and physical therapy today.
These progressions involve the collaboration of GYROTONIC® Manhasset, Harkness Center Healthy Dancer Initiative (HCHDI) and making sure physical therapists enhance their practice as a movement practitioner.
Specialized Master Trainer Rita Renha working with Ballet Dancer, Itskan Barbosa, who began her Gyrotonic training at a very young age by her mother, Specialized Master Trainer, Miriam Barbosa.
I first met Rita Renha during a Gyrotonic Trainer Update Course in Lisbon, Portugal in April 2018 at Equilibrium – many thanks to studio owner, GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer, and GYROTONIC® Pre-trainer, Bernardo Gama. After Renha learned that I created The Movement Blog and I about her new projects, we wanted to collaborate instantly.
As I’ve been becoming quite familiar with the work between Marni Larkin, studio owner of GYROTONIC® Manhasset, and HCHDI, a few things will be presented:
Renha’s Open Letter to the Dance and GYROTONIC® community.
What’s changing in movement and injury education.
Key points from the presentation of Rita Renha, Marni Larkin, Jennifer S. Dalva (NYU Langone Health), and HCHDI at the NEXT APTA Conference and Exposition.
Jennifer S. Dalva, Physical Therapist and Certified Gyrotonic Trainer. One of the specialized team members at NYU Langone’s Harkness Center for Dance Injuries working with Master Trainer Rita Renha.
“HCHDI provides professional dancers in financial need with subsidised educational opportunities to encourage a sound, holistic approach to self care and aid in career longevity.” (med.nyu.edu/hjd/harkness)
HCHDI now officially partners with GYROTONIC® Manhasset to provide subsidised Gyrotonic sessions to the dance community. Gyrotonic sessions are then held at the New York City Center Building.
The team will continue to present at medical conferences in the U.S. about the resources they have gathered thus far amongst their dance students and patients. This collaboration alone will provide a number of opportunities to be the role model for other dance injury clinics and schools.
Kayla Harkness, Physical Therapist and Certified Gyrotonic Trainer. One of the specialized team members at NYU Langone’s Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, working with Master Trainer Rita Renha.
An excerpt of Renha’s open letter:
I am sharing several developments that I have been very proud to be a part of.
What makes these developments so exciting is that, I believe they represent the first time in the USA, that the GYROTONIC® method has been experienced by the mainstream medical community. It seems that it has been the perfect timing as the new vision statement for the American Physical Therapy Association reads: “Transforming society by optimizing Movement to improve the human experience.”
As we have known for years, the GYROTONIC® method is an incredibly innovative and sophisticated system – not just for wellness, but also for rehabilitation. Inroads of this nature are essential for the method to “be given its due” but more importantly, so rehabilitation professionals have a far more advanced tool than anything in the health sciences currently offered.
We have been collaborating with the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, a world renowned institution headed by Dr Marijeanne Leiderbach, and part of NYU Langone Health in New York. Marni Larkin (owner of GYROTONIC® Manhasset) a PT and a pre-trainer in my network first offered an in house workshop for the Harkness Rehabilitation staff back in 2011.
Since then, we have continued to develop interest, and in 2016, a 3 day presentation entitled ‘Introduction to GYROTONIC® Methodology for Healthcare Professionals’ was held and received with positive feedback. People from far and wide including Canada and California attended.
Concurrently, the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries sponsored 2 staff members, Jennifer S. Dalva and Kayla Harkness to become certified Gyrotonic Trainers, which they are now. Jackson Kellogg and myself were the Master Trainers associated with their educational courses. Faye Dilgen, the Harkness program manager has been extremely supportive of integrating the Gyrotonic method into the traditional Physical Therapy setting in dance rehabilitation.
Finally, we are in the final stages of being part of the Harkness Center Healthy Dancer Initiative (HCHDI), in which professional and pre-professional dancers that meet certain needs-based criteria will have 10 private Gyrotonic sessions subsidized by Harkness funding.
I hope that you are as excited as we are about these developments, but we truly see them as “the tip of the iceberg” in terms of all that the Gyrotonic method has to offer.
After presenting at the American Physical Therapy Association Conference in New Orleans, February, 2018 – Renha, Larkin, and Dalva will offer their presentation again:
June 27-30, 2018
A Movement System Approach for Clinical Practice
Marni Larkin, PT; Jennifer Dalva, DPT, CSCS; Rita Renha, PT; Faye Dilgen, DPT; Marijeanne Liederbach, PhD, PT, ATC, CSCS
Physical Therapist and Studio Owner of GYROTONIC® Manhasset, Marni Larkin, working with Master Trainer Rita Renha at the presentation of the Introduction to GYROTONIC® Methodology for Healthcare Professionals.
Key Points from “Implementing a Movement System Approach into Clinical Practice Using the GYROTONIC® EXPANSION SYSTEM®” Poster Presentation:
ENCOURAGES PHYSICAL THERAPISTS: to embrace their role as movement practitioners.
FUNCTIONAL BREATHING: Foundational to the Method is an understanding of functional breathing. The goals of the breathing component are  to optimize complex axial movement along the stability/mobility continuum and  to modulate the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The Method varies rhythms, intensities and patterns of breathing to effect specific movement and/or ANS responses.
SPHERICAL MOVEMENT: The Method immediately moves beyond pelvic neutral and encourages the balanced and coordinated movement of the trunk and extremities in all planes of motion, the definition of core stability. Throughout each movement sequence there is an emphasis on axial lengthening.
STABILITY MOBILITY CONTINUUM: Dynamic stabilization occurs through the counterbalance of opposing forces on the whole skeleton minimizing compressive and tensile forces (stress and strain) Strengthening, stretching and mobilization never occur in isolation. Range of motion gains are always accompanied by strength gains. Physical Therapists may use Manual Therapy techniques with the clear intention of subsequent integration into the movement sequence.
MOTOR LEARNING AND FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH: The Method fosters motor learning by varying the environmental constraints of tasks to teach individuals how to make pain- and fear-free, biomechanically efficient choices. Tasks are modified to demand more strength, power and active range of motion within each movement sequence.
Master Trainer Rita Renha teaching at the presentation of the Introduction to GYROTONIC® Methodology for Healthcare Professionals.
“Physical performance is about movement development not just muscular development – if you train the movement, the muscle will develop appropriately.”
– Rita Renha
Written, Formatted, & Edited by:
PT, GYROTONIC® Manhasset Studio Owner
GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer and Personal Assiant to Juliu Horvath (creator and founder of the GYROTONIC® EXPANSION SYSTEM®
GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® Trainer, Dancer, Blogger
Specialized GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer, PT, Functional Therapist, GYROTONIC® Instituto Brasil Studio Owner
Jennifer S. Dalva, Faye E. Dilgen, Marni Larkin, Marijeanne Liederbach, Rita Renha. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 2018.
NEXT APTA Conference & Exposition Poster Presenters
Jennifer S. Dalva, Jeanine Ferrone, Marni Larkin & Rita Renha