Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stability / Mobility

Here I reference Irmgard Bartinieff's 7th fundamental of movement. Her argument was that one cannot find mobility until they achieve stability. Clear, intentional movement comes only from the capacity to be stable in stillness. This makes perfect sense, from a dancer's view. A triple pirrouette cannot be satisfactorily executed until one is able to balance in retire-releve for at least the two seconds it takes to peform the turn. Further, landing a turn smoothly comes from being on center throughout the turn, including the descent back from releve to the floor which, though only inches of difference, can seem miles of a journey if one is not stable. A sturdy, stable supporting leg allows for the rest of the body to move freely with ease. But if stability has not been established in the supporting structure of the body -be it an arm, a leg, the back, or even the head - desired mobility is lost and the laws of physics will disagree and inevitably defeat any struggles to return to stability. Stability must be established prior to mobility. I experience this daily in movement. A mobile body struggling to establish stability in the legs, pelvis, hips, torso, or whatever structure is offering the support of the moment, will only cheat itself of good training and, at best, false support. All those thousands of little girls in competition dance have been forced to torque their knees and ankles for years, encouraged to "turn out!" and "get that leg up!". These poor girls have no basis of stability in any of their movement. They simply have been taught to cheat well. Rare is the dancer who can exhibit clear, correct allignment, a stable core and pelvis, and clean technique.

I can see the fall coming every time, in my own body and in others. I can feel it about to happen. In that split second prior to the stumble, my mind is racing over all possible solutions, knowing that there is none other than to fake. I know exactly why I stumbled, where the stumble initiated in my body, and how I could have avoided it. To the untrained viewer, it may look like I stumbled due to an unstable ankle, perhaps an inconveniently placed piece of tape on the floor, a bump, or a bad shoe. But I know what happened in my body, and I am the one to blame for over rotation in one hip, causing inward rotation in the other, causing my femur to turn in, casuing my lower leg to rotate inward against my foot which was desparately struggling to remain outwardly rotated in the turn, which eventually had to give in to physics, breaking line at the ankle or in the metatarsels where the rotation can no longer be faked. At that point, my releve is depleted. I land hard on a flat foot and the turn is anything but successful. Any efforts to continue in a turn beyond that point are moot and considered world-wide as a major cheat, ugly, tacky, and just over all bad form and technique. Kenneth has carefully trained me to recognize where these mistakes came from and how to avoid them. This is kinesiology. Luckily, I find it fascinating.

All this thought and concern just to twirl a little onstage. Please consider that, while I am an avid dancer, desparately interested in all things dance related, I am not a small-minded idiot. If I am to put so much energy into my thought processes on a single turn, consider how much thought I put into the rest of life. As with everything in dance, I find that this fundamental applies to every aspect of life.

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall".

Kenneth puts great emphasis on being "on center". Any time he corrects anyone in class for anything, he offers them a chance to voice their opinion on how they may have avoided the mistake. 90% of the time, the answer has something to do with being centered. Of course, he expects us to define each circumstance in much greater detail, but inevitably, it all leads back to how centered our weight is. "Any other way is madness". Oh, the correlations. Oh, the parallels.


Jason and Denise Black said...

What a great Sunday School lesson that makes. Do you mind if I quote you?

What if you do your best to practice perfect balance, and have personal stability, but have a horde of little boys pushing and pulling in every direction. Suggestions?

Andrew Fretwell said...

Laura, this is outstanding. I'm amazed at how thought out your writing is and the brilliant parallels you've drawn. The wisdom in what you've described is beautiful. I remember stability/mobility as a dance fundamental from your Modern Final. The correlations are limitless.

Sorry if I'm gushing. This just makes a world of sense to me on a lot of levels all at once and it's something I needed to hear. Thank you for this post. :)

The Wibergs said...

I'm so glad you went somewhere with that! I was reading the first bit thinking, 'oh please, please make a connection that relates to life outside of dance'. You smarty pants, you did.

Jason or Denise (sorry, don't know which one wrote that) are right. That does make a great lesson.

NLBlack said...

I fully agree with the above comments, and so did Steve. I had him read it! I'm going to cut and paste, and save it in my file for something to read many times over. Thanks!