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Bernardo Ricou Gama: The GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer That’s Making Waves with Mixed-Ability Movement Community

June 18, 2018
Bernardo Ricou Gama Gyrokinesis Master Trainer DanceAbility Teacher Lisbon Portugal mixed-ability dance

On April 24th, 2018, I was fortunate to observe, photograph, and film Bernardo Gama’s mixed-ability group that practices both the GYROKINESIS® Method and DanceAbility® Method. From moving while sitting down, transitioning to the floor, to contact improvisation – it was a beautiful to see how movement can develop in every sense of the word.

Sit back and allow me to guide you through my observations and emotional experiences of this 2 hour class that allowed me forget about the outside world and be fully immersed with each individuals’ process.


1ST HOUR – The GYROKINESIS® Method

Bernardo Ricou Gama Gyrokinesis Master Trainer DanceAbility Teacher Lisbon Portugal

Bernardo Gama beginning with the GYROKINESIS® Method to focus on length of the spine and awakening of the senses.

The class begins with an hour of the GYROKINESIS® Method. After allowing the the spine to be in a calm, upright position, Gama leads the class into the awakening of the senses. Working with the physical and the imaginative, Gama believes that hard to reach areas or areas that simply are not there can be reached through the imagination. Therefore both the brain and the mind can maintain stimulation.
Awakening of the senses is a series of self-massage sequences, from the Gyrokinesis method, from scalp to the toes. It also involves drumming, pulling, and opening the muscles and joints in a calm, relaxed state.
Bernardo Ricou Gama Gyrokinesis Master Trainer DanceAbility Teacher Lisbon Portugal mixed-ability dance
Gama’s energy and intention is very clear throughout as the students follow with comfort and ease. As an observer, the students moved in a familiar fashion within the work, moving the way they knew best. The pace was lovely. There was always enough time for everyone to catch up with each other. I really could feel the joy and presence in the room. Even as I scrambled around the room attempting to capture these moments, the focus stayed on Gama.

. . .
Having worked in the professional dance world for almost 30 years, I felt that the ability to dance and express your inner world was transversal to everybody.
– Bernardo Gama
. . .

Bernardo Ricou Gama Gyrokinesis Master Trainer DanceAbility Teacher Lisbon Portugal mixed-ability dance
Regardless of ability, the main task was to continue moving and exploring. The group flowed into different Gyrokinesis exercise sequences such as Arch & Curl, Spiral Twist, and Sideways Arch. As the movements became more intricate, each hands-on guidance was chosen carefully.
The confidence that transmitted from Gama to the student was like a light bulb becoming brightly lit. There was also sense of playfulness which isn’t often seen in group of adults. Adults have the tendency to lose this kind of playfulness as we acquire more information and experience, which can be difficult to let go. Thus, it was refreshing to observe the contrary.
Bernardo Ricou Gama Gyrokinesis Master Trainer DanceAbility Teacher Lisbon Portugal mixed-ability dance
The group spiralled, waved, and elongated the body, often incorporating with gentle taps of the feet on the floor between sequences, like a reminder to remember to feel the ground again. Each of the sequences flowed into one another allowing the group to become comfortable in their own body and movements.
The class concluded with a 15 minute break to make the transition to the DanceAbility method portion of the class. Those in wheelchairs were carefully released by the help of their caretaker and were placed comfortably on the floor. All new sensations found during the first hour will now be further developed alongside the use of the floor.

. . .
[I learned that] having awareness with even a person with very little mobility, can move or at least reach any part of their body through sensation and/or intention.
Bernardo Gama
. . .


2ND HOUR – The DanceAbility® Method

Bernardo Ricou Gama Gyrokinesis Master Trainer DanceAbility Teacher Lisbon Portugal mixed-ability dance

Bernardo Gama leading the 2nd hour with the DanceAbility® Method where all students explore movements on the floor.

After a small break, the 2nd hour began with the DanceAbility® method where all the students are now on the floor, even the wheelchair students. The energy is kept alive as the students accept the challenge. Stillness is challenging in general. Gama continues to bring his students to ease whenever uncertainty arises.
Now the students explore movements on their back more fully, as if the floor is their partner. Gama allows time for the room to come into its own fruition, while also moving and playing in the space alongside the students, which created a fluid ambience.

Bernardo Ricou Gama Gyrokinesis Master Trainer DanceAbility Teacher Lisbon Portugal mixed-ability dance

As Bonobo’s album Migration softly bellows in the background, movements in the room become more intentional, longer, dynamic. More dynamic tasks were gradually introduced, going in and out of the floor. One of the main tasks were similar to a ‘move and freeze’ game. There was a wonderful softness in the ‘freeze’, that acted like a suspension that filled that room.
The task now required morphing into group contact improvisation while continuing to find the use of the limbs, head, each other, and then the floor again. Everyone became even more comfortable with their other senses during the contact improvisation. In fact, within the contact improvisation, it was visible that newer senses were being activated. Now the sense of play and exploration became fearless.

. . .
The DanceAbility® method helped me to systemize many things that I was already giving and teaching in my dance classes […] but this time with much more awareness about people with different bodies and abilities.
Bernardo Gama
. . .

Bernardo Ricou Gama Gyrokinesis Master Trainer DanceAbility Teacher Lisbon Portugal mixed-ability dance
The next task involved ‘shape-shifting’ in partners, quite an advance task, but everyone is up for the challenge. The exploration stayed present with no resistance. The space gradually filled out with full bodied movements. Watching this type of work is quite touching when you observe the sense of true connection.
The class ended with everyone together as one group in a circle once again to slow down the breath, find expansion, and one word to describe their experience of the day. There was a lot of love in the room for the movements, for the methods, and for each other.

. . .
[In the future] I would like to continue working the base of the Gyrokinesis method and the DanceAbility method to explore [movement] in an organic way, as a spatial architecture, as well as an interior architecture full of possibilities … and one day choreograph on them.

Bernardo Gama
. . .


Observing Bernardo Ricou Gama Teaching the GYROKINESIS® Method & DanceAbility® Method: A Movement Diary


More About Bernardo Gama

Gama is the studio owner of Equilibrium Studios in Lisbon, Portugal and is a GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer and a GYROTONIC® Pre-Trainer. He already had experience in working with the mixed ability populations, however his first experience in teaching both the Gyrokinesis method and dance was with the group Dançando com a Diferença, back in 2006.
In 2017, Gama became certified in the DanceAbility® Method. Alito Alessi, the artistic director of the method, came to Lisbon to give a 4 week intensive course, so Gama didn’t hesitate. Especially after working with Companhia CIM, and mixed ability dance company, for almost 6 years, he was ready to go to the next level.
Short Stories the Gyrotonic Method

Honest Oversights When Learning How to Teach the GYROTONIC® Method

October 20, 2017
7 mistakes that need attention when teaching the gyrotonic method

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on your certification and welcome to the world of this unique movement method. For those learning to teach for the first time, especially the GYROTONIC® Method, you might feel like a fish out of water, and that’s normal! Whether you’re in your first week or first year here are some honest oversights that helped me to grow as a trainer. The aim to also guide new trainers to understand why it’s important to positively acknowledge oversights.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
― Albert Einstein


1) Feeling Uncomfortable with New Clients

This can be tricky for new trainers. You’ve learned the sequences but now what do you do with someone not from your training course? Begin slowly but efficiently. The key to working with new clients is making sure that they feel the movements, especially when dealing with different bodies and abilities. Even if you only get to two sequences in the entire hour, that’s all right. 99.9% of the time you won’t teach a class in its full format, so don’t stress out.

2) Freezing in a ‘Creative Class’

Now it’s your time to show all of the work you’ve invested. Don’t shy away from going in different direction than planned. For example, your client(s) could come in with a new or particularly painful area. This calls for you to adhere their needs on the spot, of course. First, relax and gather your thoughts. How could they improve that area within the sequences? Is there anything new you could specifically introduce? Do what you know and work with them in this way, emphasizing key points.

3) Giving Uncertain Hands-On

Hands-On – this is the main name of the game when it comes to teaching the Gyrotonic Method. It’s what makes this method so very unique, so be sure your hands-on is informative and actually guides the client into a better movement flow. First, continue practicing. Practicing on a friend or a colleague is the best way to go. That way, when you begin working, you’re confident and your client feels good. Brush up on any anatomy that may seem unclear so there’s clarity on where the hands need to be and why.

4) Not Allowing Enough Time for Self-Practice

Exploring the method and the sequences in your on time is an excellent opportunity for you to understand the method in depth and ask yourself questions. What’s familiar, or not familiar? What’s clear, or not clear? Jot your thoughts down to further expand your experience. Personal investigation can help with tapping into your personality within the work, which will help you to become a unique teacher that has something special to offer. See if you can give yourself a full class, throughly going through the material.

5) Shying Away from Feedback

Whether it’s from your mother, partner, or most prized client, it’s essential to know. This helps us improve our work for the present and the future. You can get feedback by asking your trainer, the person your practicing with, or even a client formally via email or informally in person. Both ways are excellent to weigh in what you’ve been doing, how you’ve been doing it, and what else you can achieve. It’s ok to feel lost or over-the moon happy about your feedback, because it’s from that moment that you’ve already grown.

6) Wanting to be the Perfect Teacher for Everyone

Not possible, so let’s go ahead and let that one go. It’s like any relationship or friendship – it takes effort from both persons and forcing it will backfire. When a client doesn’t return after the first class or stops attending all together, look at the situation as a whole. For example, did you allow them to feel/understand the movements? Did they improve with your guided explanation / hands on? Were they resisting, becoming bored? These kinds of questions can help you acknowledge the situation before the client walks out the door. If the client was attentive, showing improvement, and feeling the work, you’ve done your job.

7) Undercharging to Get More Clients

As much as it would be lovely to give away your classes to help build your clientele, unfortunately it’s not viable to sustain. The one-off complimentary class or special offer to create excitement will suffice. All the training you’ve done is worth something. This investment alone entitles you to earn properly even from the start. Clients will come to you and stay with you because of the time and energy you’ve invested and what you have to share. It takes time to build clients on your own while learning how to manage different bodies, personalities, etc., but this is how you build long-lasting clientele.

Honest Oversights When Learning How to Teach the GYROTONIC® Method


Keep learning, moving, and exploring –

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GYROTONIC® HQ Blog

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Many Thanks To

Lisa Marie Goodwin
Authorized International GYROTONIC® & GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer
Debra Rose
Authorized GYROTONIC® & GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer
Dylan Elmore
GYROTONIC® Pre-Trainer & GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer
 Arsinoi Tsakalogianni
GYROTONIC® & GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer
Sandie Wilson
GYROTONIC® Pre-Trainer & GYROKINESIS® Trainer
Adrianna Thompson
Authorized GYROTONIC® & GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer,
Co-creator of GYROTONIC® Application for Dancers
& all of my clients and colleagues.

♥︎

Dance Short Stories the Gyrotonic Method

The Importance of Breathing & the GYROTONIC® Method by Lucia Vergnano (GUEST POST)

April 29, 2017
guest post: breathing again, lucia vergnano

 Lucia Vergnano is a Dancer with Aterballetto Dance Company, a Mother, and a GYROTONIC® Trainer based in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Vergnano now contributes to an blog called Mamma, Mi Racconti (Italian for Mom, Tell Me).

In this post, Vergnano shares her thoughts on breathing, the importance of oxygen, and how the GYROTONIC® Method helped her further understand this necessity.


BREATHING AGAIN by Lucia Vergnano

[Translated by Lucia Vergnano from ‘UNA MAMMA IN GYRO‘ (A mother in Gyro) – ‘Juggling family, dance, travels and the Gyrotonic Method’]

guest post: breathing again, lucia vergnano

Each of us as a child breathes, breathes well, without any constraints or problems. Then, with time, we forget. We get stuck. The mind begins to control our breathing unconsciously. We do not think it’s so important anymore.

What are the consequences? Aches, muscle pain, joint pain, stomach ache, headache to name a few… I am not saying it all depends on how we breathe, but it is certainly influential, and knowing how to breathe well could help to prevent these problems.

For example, musicians use instruments to make music, painters use brushes and colors and dancers use the body. The body and soul of the dancer are their tools and, as every tool must be treated with care, it should be cleaned, polished and pampered.

What better ingredient to feed your body than oxygenOxygenating  your blood, muscles and mind correctly means preventing contractions. It means learning to maintain a correct posture and dealing with stressful moments (which are plentiful!) in a more conscious way. 

In addition, the diaphragm is the muscle that has the main role in breathing, in which the Gyrotonic Method truly teaches how to make the diaphragm more elastic and, at the same time, stronger in order to control it voluntarily.

The Gyrotonic Method also teaches us that a certain type of breathing must be associated with each type of movement: a gentle and deep breath when movement is wide and slow; a more rhythmic one if the movement is fast and small; and a stronger and more intense one if the movement requires greater physical strength.

Improving my breathing has greatly helped to increase my physical strength, mobility and prevent injuries. I feel that Gyrotonic is a method that can really work for anyone, regardless of age or physical fitness. It is a method that helps people to breathe consciously to oxygenate both the body and mind.

After practicing the Gyrotonic method and its breathing techniques for years, it has definitely made a difference. Just couple of hours a week and you will see a change in your life, because knowing how to take a deep breath at the right moment can change your day. 


More About Lucia Vergana

guest post: breathing again, lucia vergnano

Lucia, 33, was born in Turin but moved to Florence to follow her dream to become a ballerina. And she did. In the last 15 years Vergnano has been working as a professional dancer, first with Balletto di Roma in Rome, then with Aterballetto in Reggio Emilia.

However, while dancing in Rome, Vergnano became injured but was fortunately introduced to the Gyrotonic Method. From that moment on, she realized that she didn’t want to be without this method, so pursued to becoming an instructor.

She has been married to Hektor, who is also a dancer, for 3 years. They met in Rome in 2000 and after a difficult start they decided to try to build a life together. A little more than 2 years ago she became a Mother to Lorenzo, which is her “greatest pride and joy.”


Follow Lucia Vergnano here:

Mamma, Mi Raconnti

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