While planning for class the next few weeks, I was rereading workshop notes looking for inspiration and nuggets of wisdom. No matter what type of notes I take in the workshop, I go back and jot down comments or overall reflections of what the instructor said. This stuff isn’t dance steps, but overall dance advice.
Rereading all of these over the past few days I saw some trends emerge in my notes from Mira Betz, Jill Parker, Amy Sigil, Maria Hamer and Paulette Rees-Denis. These are all “tribal” dancers but their ideas and workshops inspire all my dancing, not just the tribal side.
All of them said dancers should be grounded and should push into the earth/floor for support. Bend your knees to lower your center of gravity. This will allow your feet the freedom to move wherever they need to and stabilizes you. Mira talked about polarity – having that grounding but having a lifted upper body as well. Cathy Jackson (my Yoga instructor) describes it as being rooted into the earth by your feet and lifting towards the sky out of your hands and top of your head.
Draw from your roots – both physical and dance related. Jill and Paulette both stress the importance of dance as an organic experience and shouldn’t feel forced. By the same token, they both emphasize the importance of “quiet feet.” Your hips should be the focus, not the feet – major difference from western dance where the feet are the primary focus. They should only be the focus when you consciously choose for them to.
All these dancers believe that all dance should be intentional. That doesn’t mean it has to be strictly scripted, but instead that you are fully experiencing each movement. I think sometimes we get so caught up in trying to get through it we forget that we need to give each movement our full attention. Aziza of Montreal says to “complete your sentences.” If you think about it, that idea meshes perfectly with the ideas of organic grounded dance.