Why Attention to Contact is for Everyone

Why Attention to Contact is for Everyone

If you look at any beginner movement class, you'll see widely-varying degrees of bodily awareness. However, regardless of how someone moves, with a little bit of cueing, anyone can feel if they are in contact with the floor or not.

You don’t need skill or imagination to sense your contact with the floor. You may not be paying attention to it most of the time, but it doesn't require anatomical awareness to grasp what 'weight-bearing' is or to notice which of your parts have the most pressure.

Weight bearing is a constant thing (unless you are temporarily airborne, space traveling, or swimming, you are bearing weight, somehow).

Yet, the details of rolling contacts are rarely zeroed in on outside of higher-level movement environments. But...they could be.

Three Books That are Currently Inspiring My Teaching

Three Books That are Currently Inspiring My Teaching

The first is called ‘Bodyfulness’ by Boulder author Christine Caldwell. It’s swelling with information for or anyone who’s ready to look at the how and why of how they move. The author founded the Somatic Counseling program at Naropa University and has been in practice for more than thirty years.

She says:

“The body isn’t a thing we have but an experience we are. Bodyfulness is about working toward our potential as a whole human animal that breathes as well as thinks, moves as well as sits still, takes action as well as considers, and exists not because it thinks but because it dances, stretches, bounces, gazes, focuses, and attunes to others.“

Less Choreography, More Dance

Less Choreography, More Dance

Have you been to a dance class that was supposed to be beginner-appropriate or all-levels, but the class progressed in a way that made you want to disappear?

Maybe you had fun the first few minutes when the sequence was short, but then the instructor moved on, and on, and on. With rapidly dwindling confidence, you were left stumbling in the wake of an ever-growing sequence. Perhaps physically you could have done it all, but you needed more time to really 'get it'. It was just too much to remember.

I've been there. In classes and in auditions, I've been there.

You can only stumble around, a count behind everyone else, for so long before you want to shrivel into the corner and become unseen.

When you’re new to a style or form (or even just with a new teacher), learning a lengthy complex piece of choreography (maybe alongside people much younger or more skilled than you) is daunting and often
disheartening. Based on what I've observed, the amount of choreography delivered in many dance classes leaves a LOT of people behind.

In my opinion, if you are still trying to remember the choreo during the last minutes of class, you're missing out on the joy of dancing, the part where the movement starts to carry you and you can transcend who you were when you arrived.

My message is this:

Hawaii

Hawaii

The first time I went to Hawaii, I was 4. When my parents told me we were going, I started crying. I wailed, 'I'm not going! I don't want to die’. I locked myself in my bedroom in protest.

I. Was. Not. Going.

We'd been watching nature TV (whatever the 1987 version was), and I saw a feature on Hawaii's volcanoes. As I understood it, Hawaii was covered in fiery death mountains, and anyone who went there was sure to burn alive.

My young attempts at autonomy were (luckily) foiled, and I was gifted with the most vivid memories of my childhood.

I remember feeling tropical air kiss my skin for the first time as I breached the airplane's exit. At the end of the mobile stairway, there was a line of locals there. They placed an orchid and plumeria lei around my neck. I'd never smelled flowers so sweet. Within the first 60 seconds, I was transformed.

Mom bought me a hula skirt with a red floral bikini top. I wore it over my tighty whities every minute of our visit. Droves of strangers complimented me. People loved the uninhibited costume and panty-rocking, I suppose.

I snorkeled for the first time in Hanauma Bay, saw Polynesian fire dance at a Luau, and wove palm fronds. I learned new words: 'mahalo', 'mahi-mahi', 'kahuna'. I learned about why Pele would not approve of me taking home a rock. It was delightfully different than Charlottesville, Virginia, where we lived at the time.

We even flew right over a spewing, glowing volcano in a helicopter. The extreme heat cooked my feet, but it didn't bother me at all when I was there.

The memories lack-chronology but there are full of color and sensation.

Coming back 31 years later has been very impactful.

Fall Flow Movement Book Suggestions

Fall Flow Movement Book Suggestions

Here are a few impactful books I’ve read recently:

The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker: Though this book is primarily written for those who organize social and corporate gatherings, I found loads of inspiration for my classes and events within. If you are interested in creating memorable, welcoming, and transformative experiences, check out this beautifully written book.

The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs: I knew this book would be heartbreaking, but I didn’t expect to gently carry it around the house for a day after I had finished it while I mourned the loss of the author and reflected on what it means to produce impactful creative work that lives beyond you.

Presence by Amy Cuddy: If you are interested in developing confidence and that elusive quality of authenticity, in yourself or your students, this book provides some great insights. I found myself taking notes on nearly every page about how I can apply these ideas to my dance practice and creative movement instruction.

Pole Flow Portland Wrap-Up

Pole Flow Portland Wrap-Up

Why take a normal group 📸 when you can revisit an important concept from the workshop and get a priceless video memory? (Yes, bouncing proved to be an irreplaceable exploration for this group ⬆️⬇️⬆️⬇️) The Portland Pole Flow Intensive’s willingness to try new things blew my mind. Every day, all 19 of them showed up down for absolutely anything. Amidst ample laughter, we saw movement quality breakthroughs and technical paradigm shifts.

I love teaching these Intensives because we take it waaay back to the most fundamental concepts of pole. Oftentimes, we take it so far back that those in attendance had never even considered, or been exposed to the concept.

When you are up for a deep look at what leads to ease, fluidity, presence, ‘lines’, and pattern-breaking, join me for a Pole Flow Intensive June 3-5, 2019 in Boulder, registration open now.