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Dance General Fitness and Well–Being Tips

A Journey Back to Dance #7: Improving Technique

February 25, 2018
a journey back to dance improving technique again kindall payne

Getting use to your own body after time off might take some patience. Thankfully we have the visual memory and muscle memory systems to help us return, but how else can we continue to improve technique in the present body?


a journey back to dance improving technique again kindall payne

“Technique” is thus understood as the skills experienced in practice and inscribed into one’s own world of understanding – Jenny Coogan, Practicing Dance: A Somatic Orientation.

Practice

Depending on what style of training and/or performance, it’s often through consistent practice that a technique or style becomes enhanced. This may mean that practice can create a fuller understanding and meaning to the work both physically and mentally. Therefore the goal with practice is to explore, especially the challenges.

Move 

Move the body as it is today, right now. When this happens there isn’t time to fixate on how we pliéd, jumped, or pointed our foot in the past. When returning to a technique, this is the time to move and listen well with the mind and body.

Feel

With having past experiences in a particular technique or style, it might be tempting to just go with the motions. How can we continue to generate new feeling and new meaning in our movements? Using imagination, small tasks and goals are very useful. Never allow the mind and the body to become unresponsive to feeling and challenges.

Inquire

Ask questions amongst your teachers, peers, and colleagues. Also maintain an inner dialogue which can help with problem solving when learning or rehearsing something new (or old). This inner dialogue could also help with maintaining curiosity and a fresh outlook.

Enjoy

The process of practice and improving don’t really end. Therefore, it’s pertinent to enjoy the process. For some of us, this can be difficult as progression and improvement are hard to see with our own eyes. Think about what elements that you’ve enjoyed within a class, performance, research development, etc. Do more of that!
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 –

Anatomy Trains

GYROTONIC® HQ Blog

Studio Finder


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.

♥︎

the Gyrokinesis Method Yoga

5 Ways the GYROKINESIS® Method Can Enhance Your Yoga Practice

October 6, 2017
How the GYROKINESIS® Method & Yoga Can Go Hand in Hand

Common questions I hear, “What’s the GYROKINESIS® Method?” “Is it like yoga or Pilates?” Sometimes it seems to difficult to explain, but perhaps it shouldn’t. The ultimate aim is to understand the body, move and enjoy.

This method was originally created as an injury prevention method for dancers, however it became widely used for general alignment and movement enhancement for many walks of life.

How the GYROKINESIS® Method & Yoga Can Go Hand in Hand

©️ Atena Della Danza

“There are numerous benefits to mixing up your workout routine. It’s the key to stimulating different muscle groups and preventing boredom (Arnold Lee, MD).

5 Ways the GYROKINESIS® Method Can Enhance Your Yoga Practice:

1) It can give you a different sense of awareness to the body’s makeup.

  • Our body isn’t linear and is hardly symmetrical. The Gyrokinesis method emphasizes on a whole body connection and, in particular, the spiral lines.  This way the mover can understand that the whole body needs to be involved in both movements small and large as our muscles, ligaments, and bones are connected in many ways – mostly in diagonals and spirals.
  • Also, the self-massage component of this method gives the mover an opportunity to draw attention to areas we tend to avoid or didn’t even know existed. We tend to forget our organs, what effect our muscular body can have on them, and the places in between. By turning our attention to these areas, the mover is able to awaken ‘dormant’ areas.

 

How the GYROKINESIS (R) Method & Yoga Can Go Hand in Hand©️ Capital Gyrotonic

2) It can help you understand the painful/injured parts of your body.

  • Instead of working through the pain or avoiding movement altogether, this method helps the mover to avoid unhealthy habitual patterns in the body, which may have caused the pain/injury in the first place. Therefore, this method focuses on creating space in the joints before movement occurs to give the body a chance to find pain-free movement and appropriate range.

3) It can give you insight to the ‘internal body’.

  • The internal body (like in Tai Chi modalities) can refer to the micro-movements that can occur before movements become come into fruition. Gyrokinesis principles like ‘narrowing the pelvis’, ‘suppling’, and the ‘fifth line’ are queues for the internal body to ignite and guide the rest of the body for fuller, more expressive movements.
How the GYROKINESIS® Method & Yoga Can Go Hand in Hand

©️ Gyrotonic Basque

4) It can help you reach a fuller movement potential.

  • Optimal range of movement is crucial to maintain healthy muscles and joints. The Gyrokinesis Method explores all ranges of movement so that over time the body is strong, supple. Therefore, within a Gyrokinesis class the mover is challenged to work on weak, or ‘blind spots’ to enhance overall movement. Without this the mover could have the tendency to only move a certain way, leaving portions of the body behind on movement development.

5) It gently opens areas usually avoided.

  • You will honestly open areas of the body like never before that don’t get enough attention. As previously mentioned, Gyrokinesis’ unique movement method involving circular and spiralling movements tap into the areas in between our normal range of motion. Therefore, the mover will be able to find an even better, longer-lasting muscular and neuromuscular connection within their movements.

Namaste


Want to try a GYROKINESIS® class?

Find me at Little Yoga Space Lisboa

or

Try the Gyrotonic.com’s Studio Finder

Enjoy!

Dance

A Journey Back to Dance #3: Preparation

February 16, 2016
journey back to dance #3: mental and physical preparation

It’s important to adhere both mental and physical preparation especially when returning back to dance and performing.

There are quite a few ways to mentally and physically prepare for a journey back to dance. Whether you’ve taken a year or a week off, your body and mind will need the upmost care (and respect). Some key elements involve cross-training, ‘letting go’, and knowing when to rest. Know why these are important and how to achieve them.

journey back to dance #3: mental and physical preparation

Practicing the GYROKINESIS® Method with friend and dancer, Brittanie Brown.

Cross-Train

My current schedule, other than dance, consists of GYROTONIC®/GYROKINESIS® (of course), yoga, pilates, running, and strength/circuit training. I’m a huge fan cross-training because it keeps my schedule interesting and I can feel improvement more rapidly. There are also a number of studies that prove a dancer’s schedule should include specific and complimentary training.

Thankfully ‘cross-training’ has become more popular within the dance community (thank you, Misty and others) as it was previously feared that a dancer would become ‘too bulky’ or ‘too tight’. Contrary to popular belief, maintaining a balanced workout could actually help avoid over tightening, over stretching, and, most importantly, injury.

Why is this important?

A number of studies have recommended other training regimes to supplement dance training. Cross-training helps to reduce tiredness and improve muscular endurance. Fatigue contributes 90% of injury and ‘overuse’ cases therefore, cross-training can help to reduce this risk. In turn, it could also help with enhancing power and stamina needed for unpredictable phrasing/choreography.

Ballet Master, Dominic Antonucci, states that, “boxing improved my strength and stamina, but also provided psychological advantages […] by working on something else physical in my free time, I could return to ballet with mental vigour”. Birmingham Royal Ballet dancer, Jamie Bond, also states that, “[…] training with specific goals in mind is key in preventing muscles from ‘bulking up'”.

How to do it:

Keep it low cost and convenient. Look for deals and reasonable class packs near where you live and/or work or use site like Class Pass. Teachers or Trainers could ‘swap’ sessions with each other or take turns leading a class.

Use a fitness app. My favorite go to: The Nike Training Club App. There are many free apps out there.

Create a ‘buddy’ system. Create a group where you and your friends can schedule days to go to the gym or class together, like WhatsApp.

Choose something that you enjoy. Once you begin to enjoy a new activity or class, make it a part of your routine. However, if this new activity or class is proving to become detrimental, it’s important to know when to stop.

journey back to dance #3: mental and physical preparation

Video Still from Valeria Caboi‘s Red T-Shirt Video Project, where I was free to forget what I knew about technique and just move.

‘Let Go’ When You Can

At the end of the day we’re just practising […] I don’t really worry about what happened before because I think that can really restrain you. I just try to be really present, to be true to what I’m thinking and working on at that moment, and hope that that resonates with other people.

Wayne McGregor

Why is this important?

Letting go of preconceived notions is a tough task as our brain mainly works around things we’ve seen or done before. It helps you to move forward, progress, and enjoy new information. In addition, obtain weekly, daily, and hourly goals, but be prepared for these goals to change. What you’ve done last year, yesterday, or five minutes ago will be completely different from you need to do ‘now’. This is also a great tool for creativity.

How to do it:

This can be done on your own time whether you’re practicing or performing. Each class, rehearsal, and/or performance can be a new opportunity to approach movement differently. Learn from what you’ve done before but also make room to focus on something different and to create something new. This may also mean to push beyond your limits with reasonable risks. “It’s not what you’re doing, it’s how you’re doing it […] have a real experience (Alonzo King)”.

journey back to dance #3: mental and physical preparation

This is when I finally took advantage of a cheap flight deal from London to Lisbon, Portugal. Worth it, in every way.

Rest

Why is this important?

Don’t be afraid to take a day or two off, or a well-deserved vacation. There are many benefits of rest. One of the most important reasons for rest for a dancer is avoiding burnout. Constructive rest is also beneficial  as this practice helps to restore balance in the body (and can take up to as little as 2-5 minutes). This is also great for when you may be feeling overwhelmed or overworked during the day.

How to do it:

Sleep Well
Can’t fall asleep? Clear your mind with apps like Headspace that can provide an effective way to meditate, relax, and reduce stress.

Nourish Yourself 

Eating good, healthy food is another great way to replenish the body and provide relaxation (why, hello dark chocolate).

Go to the Spa
Yes, and get a massage if you can.

Practice at Home
Take it easy with self-massage techniques such as foam and ball rolling, or yoga or Gyrokinesis practice with a guided video.


Read up:

Try Something New for 30 Days

Fitness & Strength FAQ’s – Dance UK

Cross-Training and Injury Prevention – Gaynor Minden

Importance of Dance Fitness – IADMS

Rest for Dancers- Dr. Glenna Batson

Top Dancers Who Cross-Train

Alonzo King on Art, Discovery, and Creativity

General Fitness and Well–Being

Simple Ways to Release Tension Everyday

April 9, 2015

Releasing tension is something we can work on everyday. It can also help bring a sense of calm and clear-headedness.

Here are a few ways we can release tension.


Have you actually noticed when you hold unnecessary tension? If so, it could be due to a number of reasons such as doing a task that’s difficult, recovering from injury, or just feeling uncomfortable in a particular situation as it’s in our nature to ‘protect’ ourselves. If not, you’re in for an awakening.
Everyone’s body and ability is different, but there are a few ways we can at least gain more awareness about why we are tensing up in the first place. The most common problem areas are the neck, shoulders, and jaw. There are, of course, many more. Take time to find out yours.

Some causes of tension:

  • Stress and/or anxiety
  • Poor postural alignment
  • Poor abdominal/core strength
  • Sitting for long periods of time (why yes, I am standing as I type this post)
Enhance alignment and core strength when standing:
Align your bones ‘on top’ of each other:
  • Head over the shoulders
  • Shoulders over the hips
  • Hips over the knees
  • Knees over the ankles
  • Feet in-line with the knees
  • Imagine energy going downward through the feet and lengthen upward through the spine simultaneously
  • Continue to support your posture through your centre

Enhance alignment and core strength when sitting:

  • Use a pillow behind the back for support
  • If in a hard chair or on the floor, sit on a book and a pillow
  • Sometimes adding a book under the feet is nice too
  • Keep head in a slight nod, not too high or too low

Ways to find release:

  • If able, alternate between sitting and standing (I’m looking at you, office workers)
  • Draw your attention places of tension and relax those areas
  • Add deep breathing to your routine
  • Take a break already, you owe it yourself (and probably your computer)
  • And/or do one of the following:
    • Gyrotonic homework (nudge nudge)
    • Stretch or Yoga
    • Walk or cycle
    • Even just getting up to make tea or coffee will do
Why is proper alignment and relaxation important?
When can you practice?
Every day, every minute. Try releasing unnecessary tension while walking, at your desk, working out, texting, driving, on the tube– honestly, anywhere, anytime. Practice forms habit.
If you are still having problems, consider taking up Gyrotonic, Yoga, Pilates, or all three to cross-train your muscles. For severe problems, consider seeking treatment (i.e. Massage, Physiotherapy).
Have a good rest of your week!