Thursday, November 11, 2010

Body Awareness, Dance, and Therapy

After looking at my alter-egos at the podiatrists, I have been pondering how to develop further body awareness and have started to get interested in dance and exercises related to dance.   My alter-ego's are dancers and Pilates instructors hardwired into their bodies.  Unlike me.  I am a brain enclosed in a body.

It turns out that a certain amount of dancers are getting very interested in the mind-body connection, somatics, and yoga and are integrating integrating concepts into dance itself.  So maybe, dance and dance exercises could be a way to take what I am learning in therapy and extend it into an enjoyable practice in everyday life.  At some point, I will end therapy and I will need to integrate good therapeutic habits into everyday life.  So maybe dance and dance related exercises could be a way to do this.

According to Martha Eddy, CMA, EdD, of Moving on Center and The Center for Kinesthetic Education,  "Dance class setting is a perfect place to teach concepts such as development, dynamics of movement, and body systems".   She follows the path of human development, from the floor to the vertical. “When standing, I work to emphasize the released quality we felt on the floor,” Eddy says. “Taking time for students to feel their bodies and respond, a key tenet of somatics, gives them an opportunity to synthesize the material presented.”  “A simple tendu sequence (a ballet movement) can be enhanced by a somatic exercise using real hand brushes to stimulate a sensory experience and wake up the feet,” says Eddy. 

This use of hand brushes to stimulate a sensory experience is similar to what is done in Sensory Integration Therapy with the Wilbarger Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique (DPPT).  DPPT involves firmly brushing the arms and working down to the feet (while avoiding the stomach) and joint compression.  It is done to help the central nervous system  use information from the peripheral nervous system more effectively, resulting in enhanced movement coordination, functional communication, sensory modulation, and hence, self-regulation. 

Dance can also help with body organization. “It’s easy to develop phrases that use opposite-side [contra-lateral] and same-sided [homo-lateral] organizations,” Eddy says. “Grands battements work especially well for exploring whole body organizations. Students can also learn their organization preferences.”

Ray Schwartz, an instructor of dance at The University of the Americas Puebla,  weaves basic Feldenkrais lessons, which are verbally guided movement exercises, right into the fabric of his class. “I use images from Laban to elaborate spatial awareness in work with the arms and across the floor,” he says. “I might discuss tendus as a method of balance sensitivity and weight transfer.”  Feldenkrais is very interesting because it starts with you being aware of your body and trying to get your body into its natural good habits. Laban is a system of dance notation.  By combining these two methods, Schwartz is able to get spatial awareness from Laban integrated into body awareness.

"Noting skeletal landmarks, moving from an inner to an outer focus, developing an experiential sensibility—that’s all somatic, and it’s now the mainstay of a typical modern dance class,” says Schwartz.    When a dancer understands his body as a series of landmarks,

Here are some interesting links from a Feature article, "Taking Somatics off the Mat"
American Society for the Alexander Technique (AmSAT)
AmSAT is a clearing house for information, trainings and finding a teacher of the Alexander Technique.
The Center for Kinesthetic Education
Martha Eddy offers classes and teacher training in BodyMind Dancing and BodyMind Fitness.
Continuum Movement
Former Dunham dancer and somatic pioneer Emile Conrad explores the importance of the fluid system in human movement.
Eastwest Somatics Institute for Dance and Movement Studies
Founder and dance philosopher Sondra Fraleigh created Shin Somatics which combines Feldenkrais, craniosacral therapy, effective communication, Japanese Butoh, Yoga and Zen meditation.
The Feldenkrais Guild of North America
The Feldenkrais Guild provides information on classes, teachers and upcoming trainings along with research and articles of various applications of the work.
Klein Technique
Klein Technique, a movement re-education and injury prevention program, was developed by a dancer (Susan Klein) for dancers and combines a practical and experimental approach to anatomy and an internal knowledge of the skeletal system.
Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies (LIMS)
LIMS offers training to become a certified Movement Analyst, along with workshops and classes in Laban’s and Bartenieff’s work.
Moving on Center
Moving on Center School for Participatory Arts and Somatic Research, founded by Martha Eddy and Carol Swann, is a mobile somatics curriculum, offering classes, certification programs and workshops for artists and somatic enthusiasts.
The School for Body-Mind Centering
Founder Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen created Body-Mind Centering as a movement-based approach to understanding human development, anatomy and physiology.