Following this was a Master Class with Latanya D. Tigner on the “Vernacular of Dance” where the teachers were met with the idea of meeting newer dance students where they are at and breaking down the boundaries of language in our teaching practices.
After a warm welcome to our dance educators we visited the inner workings of CDEA in our business meeting.
After lunch participants engaged in a panel discussion, moderated by Nancy Ng on cultural competency and advocacy across sectors of dance education and beyond.
“Circle and link your connections”
“Where do you teach in CA?”
This led into a series of workshops such as developing interest in your dance program (especially when your department is isolated); establishing professional development in topics of dance for non-dancing k-8 teachers; starting a dance alliance; an input session for a CDEA position paper on equity and access in Dance Education.
Before the day’s concluding wrap-up, participants Skyped with California State Senator Allen about his sponsored Theatre and Dance Act (Bill SB916) and how dance educators will need to assist in advocating for the Bill in the coming weeks and months.
It was a thrilling day and we hope to continue the momentum of advocacy, connection making, professional development, and efforts to strengthen dance education for all of California.
Photos by Zackary Forcum & Beth Megill
…A member of CDEA’s Greater Board, Zackary Forcum works as a Dance Teaching Artist and is a MFA Dance Candidate at Mills College…
Follow the link above and vote for our new and returning board for CDEA 2016! Voting is due by February 15th, 2016
CDEA Board Nomination 2016(Link to PDF with full information)
Nomination period for CDEA Executive Board and Greater Board members opens January 1 and closes January 31, 2016.
Voting begins February 1; polls close February 15 at midnight Pacific Time.
Positions will be announced February 17th.
All board members participate in orientation phone conference Feb 27:
2:00-4:30 Executive Board 3:00-4:30 Greater Board
Positions begin: March 1, 2016
Include contact info, position(s) of interest, and short statement of relevant background in an email by Jan 31 to: firstname.lastname@example.org
December 2015 Update
This is an update on the current stance of the California Department of Education on the timeline and process for adopting new California Visual and Performing Arts State Standards. As you may be aware CDEA, as part of the California 4ArtsEdOrgs Coalition (CAEA, CDEA, CETA, CMEA) co-sponsored this year’s Senate Bill 725. SB 725 called for the start of the process to update current California Visual and Performing Arts Standards given that new national arts standards are available for states to adopt or adapt.
SB 725 moved smoothly through the Senate and in the summer it was moving also along through the Assembly when the bill was sacrificed due to an urgent educational situation. The language about the standards in SB 725 was gutted totally and replaced with language that solved the issue of the thousands of CA high school students that did not pass or take the CA High School Exit Exam in 2015. These students were now caught without access to the exam due to changes in California’s testing. CDEA and the California 4ArtsEdOrgs Coalition were left without a bill or legislation to trigger the beginning of the process of updating the 15 year-old arts standards.
Since this transpired, CDEA’s leadership has been working to determine where the Visual and Performing Arts—VAPA— state standards fall in the order of the current CDE standard’s process. The following summaries provide insight into the proactive approaches CDEA and the other arts education professional organizations are taking in the area of arts education and the new standards as we jointly navigate and face the challenges ahead.
The CDE currently has a standards bill that is in its second year of moving through the legislative process, Assembly Bill 740. AB 740’s language provides a process for updating all standards. However, no order of content areas is provided in the bill, which seems to leave it up to the State Board of Education and CDE to establish a schedule.
Senator Ben Allen Calls for Joint Committee on the Arts Hearing
On November 6, a hearing was convened by Senator Ben Allen to help understand why districts were not following the Education Code that requires districts to provide courses of study in all four disciplines of the arts in grades 1 – 12. At the hearing Superintendent Torlakson was represented by Lupita Cortez Alcala, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, Instruction & Learning Support Branch. When the topic of new Visual and Performing Arts standards was raised Dr. Alcala provided some insight into CDE’s timeline.
- Alcala stated on behalf of CDE, “We’re looking forward to getting funded in this next governor’s budget for July 2016 to include funding so that we can revise the Visual and Performing Arts standards and that should take anywhere from 12 – 18 months depending on how much field and public comment there is, but we’re excited about working with the National Standards in order to create some of those new California Visual and Performing Arts Standards. We are looking forward to getting funded to do that work.”
- “In addition,” she stated, “the Superintendent also has a Blueprint 2.0 that has the Visual and Performing Arts as subjects that we need to update and move forward with.”
California 4ArtsEdOrgs call for Meeting with Superintendent Torlakson
In order to continue to be pro-active, the presidents and their presidents-elect or designees of the California 4ArtsEdOrgs asked for a meeting with Superintendent Torlakson. The goal of this meeting was to reintroduce the Superintendent and his office to the four professional arts education organizations and our missions and to remind them that we represent all of California’s credentialed arts teachers.
The meeting took place on November 16, 2015 with Superintendent Torlakson’s designee, Deputy Lupita Cortez Alcala, Carrie Roberts, Director, Professional Learning Support Division, and Tom Adams, Director, Curriculum Frameworks & Instructional Resource Division. At the meeting we inquired as to the next steps CDE would take to update the VAPA standards. It was made clear to the California 4ArtsEdOrgs that the funding being requested by CDE from the governor’s budget for July 2016 would be utilized for World Languages or Health standards and not Visual and Performing Arts standards.
In further clarification from Deputy Superintendent Alcala, she confirmed that the VAPA standards could be considered along with World Languages; however, the CDE perceives that there are “some unresolved issues” around new VAPA standards being based on the National Core Arts Standards, “that will take public discussion before reaching consensus.” The leadership of the 4ArtsEdOrg Coalition tried at the meeting to elicit from the CDE staff present the perceived “issues,” however, the responses they gave were not satisfactory nor did they reflect what our organizations are hearing from our membership—that California teachers that are already trying out using the new standards, nor from the California feedback during the National Standards development.
California 4ArtsEdOrgs’ leadership each are updating their membership as to the above developments. As Deputy Superintendent Alcala has left her post as of December 1 to lead the CA Student Aid Commission, it will be important to continue the dialogue with Tom Adams, who has been appointed as the new Deputy Superintendent. Our 4ArtsEdOrg Coalition is working together to develop strategies for moving forward with new arts standards. In January the CDEA leadership will begin to develop membership strategies for action, both local and statewide, to push for new California Visual and Performing Arts standards and to ensure CA Education Code compliance so that students have VAPA programs available locally. CDEA hopes to continue this conversation with its membership at our state conference in Berkeley on January 29, 2016. CDEA thanks you for your interest and support as we endeavor to do what is right for California’s school children.
Great news! Senate Bill 725 has made it through the amendment process in the Appropriations Committee and now moves on to the Assembly Education Committee. This is truly excellent news! It will be heard in this committee on July 15. This means we have until 5 pm on July 9th to send in letters of support to the members of the Assembly Education Committee (see attached document)…especially if you are one of their constituents. There are 7 members and they need to know that arts supporters in their districts care about this bill. If you do not live in their districts, contact the Chair, Assembly Member Mc’Donnell.
Attached is a factsheet on the bill and a sample support letter, along with the list of Education Committee members and where they serve. Please open these documents and take a moment to make your voice heard.
I am requesting from all of you, and our awesome communications team, that this information be shared as widely as possible amongst our membership and beyond– updated VAPA standards are good for all!
Unfortunately it is a fact in California that quality dance education is constantly under attack. A relatively recent example of this is how the state-wide educational budget crisis of the Great Recession around 2007, along with over a decade emphasis on testing-based education practices (necessitated by the federal government’s No Child Left Behind law and the state’s Public School Accountability Act) dealt repeated blows to arts education by reallocating resources away from the arts to disciplines that were deemed critical to school’s success such as remedial math classes. In this instance the State’s largest school district, the Los Angeles Unified School District, was forced to terminate 345 art teachers’ employment between 2008 and 2012, while half of its k-5 students lost all arts offerings. In Northern California, Adams Middle School, which had a vibrant arts education program (with well equipped dance studios), lost all arts education except certain band and visual arts (at a reduction of 40%) over a five year period from when NCLB began enforcement. Out of moments like these coalitions like CREATE CA and the call for new standards arose, and so many constructive actions took place to better education.
It may be a tired exercise for many but it’s important to question our practices at times like these, if we are to sustain them. Why do we do what we do? What is the value in dance education? What do we lose, when our programs are restricted, cut, swept away? What is our responsibility to speak up for ourselves as dance educators? How do we empower our students and greater communities to use their agency to express why dance is needed in schools? How do we do this is a way that upholds our values and our mission to support dance education for the state of California?
The following 3 sections are filled with thoughts and resources to aid you in forming a centered position when you meet a variety of potential challenges in regards to changes/restrictions/cuts to your program.
How Are You Being Assessed and What is Being Proposed?
When your administration or some kind of outside governing body comes to you, with proposed curricular changes, new sets of restrictions, and/or budget cuts to your program it is important to know how your practice, courses, and discipline have been assessed and the reasoning behind new decisions. If you can determine how new choices were determined as necessary you can best evaluate how your own perspective compares. This may lead to new forms of understanding for both parties, or at least allows you to have a clearer understanding so you can decide how to best respond.
Choosing How Best to Respond
Can you accept the changes being imposed upon you? This may be an exciting opportunity to grow within new restrictions challenging you to revamp your teaching style and approach to the form. We teach our students how to function within new boundaries (and stretch them) on a daily basis—can you do the same thing here and make the most out of your circumstance? With refreshed positivity and constructive actions you may be able to grow your program in new, more sustainable ways.
Yet if you cannot accept the actions that are being enforced upon your classes, then you should constructively and proactively assert it. We say “yes” easily in the arts, but we should have confidence to say “no” as well when our practices are being threatened. You cannot retain your program or find suitable compromises and solutions until you establish that you have an objection. When you know where another party is coming from, and you know that you do not agree with their assessment of the situation you can begin deciding how to respond.
These are but a few ways to react:
* Search for common ground between the other party and your party.
* Establish better plans of actions that may not have been previously thought of by the other party.
* Who/what makes up your base of support? Is it your students? Your students’ parents? Fellow colleagues? A set of data or studies?
* Decide what are “constructive actions” for your cause. Is anger constructive? It can be if employed effectively, such as using the energy behind the anger to write a letter or to organize a meeting. Is a protest constructive? It can be if you have the sturdy foundation of support, a goal for the gathering, and a clear message to express. Is a letter writing campaign optimum? Is a petition appropriate? What serves your end goals needs to be pinned down and executed efficiently.
The Movement is Bigger than You
It can be difficult to take your arts advocacy to the next level, as educators often have to walk a fine diplomatic line between being constructively proactive but not incendiary. This is not a time to muzzle yourself but instead to take your position and to use it to empower your communities to express their voices and presence in positive ways. Holding transparent-informational meetings for students, parents, alumni, and the wider community is a good-grounded place to start. Then this newly informed collective has the power to come together to create plans of action, visibility, and resources for change (join in the planning and execution of actions as appropriate). These may show up in terms of performative protests of Flashmobs, Site Specific work, or tried-and-true letter writings campaigns.
Being present and creating visibility needs to happen not only in-person, but also online. A perfect example of this is Mills College, which while home to the nation’s oldest continuous dance program, is currently facing curricular changes that would dismantle their undergraduate Dance Major. While the department maintains their Facebook Page and increased their presence through online short films, their student body has created a Tumblr Blog where they express their reactions to the proposed cuts. Additionally, the student body has taken further online actions like creating an online petition in the hopes that gathering support and creating visibility will aid in their cause of saving their undergraduate major (click on the links if you wish to support…).
In the end it is important to remember in your advocacy of dance education in your school, state, world that dancers and dance educators have been fighting for legitimacy and validation as a form for decades, if not centuries. And we will keep fighting. The movement is bigger than you. We hope that you move all the same and add to the conversation.
…A member of CDEA’s Greater Board, Zackary Forcum works as a Dance Teaching Artist and is a MFA Dance Candidate at Mills College…
Dance is not a passive act. No matter if our students are warming-up their bodies in preparation for moving, participating in their regular technique courses, taking the stage in performance, or observing one themselves, we are constantly asking our students to actively engage with the form. Yet, it can often feel like our students’ minds are miles away from their bodies; though they attempt to move through a phrase they lack presence as if they are on automatic-pilot, simply going through the motions. There is no one answer to the best way of assisting dance students to participate fully in a process, however here are some ideas to reconsider…
What’s the “Buy-In?”
Why should our students wholly commit to their dance studies? What’s in it for them—what do they have the potential to gain? Is it to satisfy some requirement? How bout to appear cool/hip to others? To have fun? To challenge themselves? To receive the opportunity to move, because they love it? These reasons for taking a dance class all have one thing in common: empowerment. All require using dance as a tool for a person to become or experience more than they currently are.
When we acknowledge empowerment as a “buy-in” for students, we can use this principle as a guiding force in our decision making process in our teaching practices. Let’s say, as an example in phrase making, you want to structure a phrase for your students around softness; perhaps assert the power of softness at the beginning of the phrase with movements that are at a higher intensity/healthy end-range of motion. This may allow students an opportunity to feel strength in what may be perceived as an unlikely place, before exploring its more vulnerable contents. How about when verbally trying to encourage and constructively critique our dancers in their execution of exercises? If we are guided by empowerment we have a healthy alternative to shame-based encouragement: the feedback stops relying on observations of deficiencies and instead sees the effort and pushes for more.
Incorporation of this idea doesn’t have to come all at once. By simply asking what your motivations are in small self-reflections on a daily/weekly/monthly basis can challenge embedded learned behavior and actions.
Where “Saying Yes” and Self-Regulation Meet
There is a popular theatre game that is often used with students in relation to participation in improvisation called, “Yes Let’s.” While you can get the general idea of how to play here, “Yes Let’s” is routinely employed by teachers to illustrate the importance of saying “yes” in the arts; that when you say yes to possibilities, you are able to explore and grow with fantastic results. There are several other ways of saying this, whether it’s “lean in,” “commit,” “go full-tilt,” etc. No matter what words are used dance teacher routinely ask our students to greet their work with acceptance and an openness to explore.
How can we best aid in this process, which both empowers our students and acknowledges their individual voice and presence? One way is to reinforce their ability to self-regulate. If a student is able to use their body awareness to make decisions like whether they should make an adjustment or simply modify a movement for an injury, then they may feel empowered to make informed decisions on how best to participate. At the same time if we can guide our students through high-stress periods by incorporating small classroom rituals into our courses, we can facilitate the release of tension so our students are more attentive to current requirements. Classroom techniques for student self-regulation comes in countless forms so if you would like more resources please click here.
Review Standards and Reaffirm a Productive Work Ethic.
As teachers we are always balancing standards. Our own, our governing bodies, and depending where we teach, state’s as well. Standards can be a source of inspiration, something to aspire to. If your students are not engaging as much as they could it might be time to review, and perhaps rethink, some of your standards around what a productive work ethic looks like with your students.
The work that takes place in a dance studio is never just about movement. It involves taking chances and challenging yourself. Building a vocabulary of understanding between peers, while engaging in group processes. Understanding execution, while building new skills. All of these things happen in most academic classes—so why should a student approach the work in a studio dance class with any less integrity than they would a math class? In the end each student must decide how they will be present in class, how they will meet a teacher’s and their own personal expectations, and what’s important to them in their education. This can get lost, and in some cases, never firmly established. By taking the time to lay the foundation of standards and course expectations, and by periodically revisiting them, your students will have a clear structure in which they can work.
Sometimes the most effective action we can take is to step back to allow our students to find their own way in the process. This means they may not be a 100% present in class. They may not do their best work. They may fail, when the answers are right in front of their faces. Our job as dance teachers is not to micromanage every instance of a student’s dance education, but to open the door to the world and possibilities of dance. It is our students’ job to walk through that door. Let them.
…Zackary Forcum works as a Dance Teaching Artist and is a MFA Dance Candidate at Mills College while sitting on CDEA’s Greater Board…
The performing arts can be full of reciprocity: the opportunity to be seen, heard, and thus valued as an individual. We as teachers can often offer our students individual feedback in our technique and choreography practicum courses, while audiences can supply accolades after viewing a performance. Yet, with class sizes constantly increasing, time constraints steadily tightening, and larger quantities of content required to be taught, it can be difficult to offer reciprocity to all of our dance students on a regular basis. Often, a lack of reciprocity even among some of our students hints at favoritism amongst the student body (whether valid or not) and can also be damaging to the self-esteem of our pupils.
There are multiple ways of engaging in reciprocity with students in our teaching practices, from engaging in active listening skills to verbally communicating our recognition of their efforts, thoughts, and feelings back to individual or groups of students. While these are highly successful methods, another powerful, yet seemingly unlikely agent of reciprocity is photography. Candid photography (not necessarily posed) of our students dancing and/or performing has the ability to illustrate the skill, participation, and overall presence of our students. Depending on our sponsoring body’s guidelines, we can share these photos with our students, their families, and perhaps wider communities as an acknowledgement of our students and our processes.
At the same time, photography not only has the potential to offer the student a sense of reciprocity from their teacher, but perhaps also their wider community and most importantly, reflexively from themselves. While there have been numerous opt-ed pieces on the rise of narcissism through “selfie” photo-culture, the use of candid photography (photos that are not posed, but rather taken during the flow of a process) has the potential to offer a more genuine and authentic representation of lived-experience. Since these photo-representations can be experienced and re-experienced by multiple people, the possibility of reciprocity increases. The subjects of these photos also have the opportunity to validate their experience reflexively by viewing the photo and remembering their associated experience.
In a digital age, where cameras are more available, and photo-editing software can obtained though numerous apps and platforms, it can be difficult to know where to begin or take the knowledge and resources we already have.
WHERE TO START
1) What are your sponsoring body’s guidelines and boundaries?
This should go without saying but you need to have a clear understanding of your sponsoring body’s (your school or organization) guidelines and regulations around photography of students before taking any photos at all. We need our students to remain safe, and for our dancers’ rights to be respected at all times. So do your homework, and even if you face tight restrictions, be creative in how plan to you use photography.
2) Obtain and Know Your Tools
It seems that cameras can be found everywhere from smartphones to tablets to laptops/desktops, while various good-quality handheld cameras saturate the market (if you do not have one, for any reason, try to burrow one).
It’s important to know how to use what you got. That involves taking the time to explore the functions of the device you have, if only for a few minutes here and there. Technology can be confusing and that can be paralyzing. This is where our peers, students, and online web tutorials become indispensible. We are often not alone in our confusion and the answers are out there to be found. Go find them!
For instance, below is a small article on how to use specific functions of the iphone camera:
The same is true for editing your photos. You may be or become an excellent photographer, but with so many factors involved in capturing a moving moment, there are countless instances where editing allows a image to truly shine. Not sure of which apps and software are best to use? Check out the links below.
Here is a list of some of the best photo editing apps currently on the market:
Here is a list of alternatives to “Photoshop,” many of them free:
INCORPORATING PHOTOGRAPHY AS ACTS OF RECIPROCITY
Slideshows are great when you are more restricted with how you can employ photography. Shown through projection, on a laptop, tablet, etc. these displays can be shared as a preshow-lobby attractions at class performances, community events, or simply one-on-one with our students in the studio (great end-of-term closing ritual).
2) Collage Memory-Boards
Print out your photography and combine all of your photos in a large collage memory-board that can be displayed in your studio for all your students to see and admire.
3) Social Media
Social Media offers a plethora of platforms for sharing content. If you are able to use these platforms, while conforming to your designated guidelines, you have the unique opportunity to share your class and performance processes with a wider audience. Sharing photography in this way, highlights your students amongst this larger audience, allows the student easy access to the photos for their own use, and is fantastic way to build interest in your program. Knowing the pros and cons of social media networks are important if you choose to use them. If you would like a breakdown of major social media platforms check out the link below:
**Zackary Forcum is a Dance Teaching Artist, who is attending Mills College Dance MFA Program, and sits on CDEA’s Greater Board**
Making adjustments is at the essence of a dancers life. How do you find your ideal alignment? Is the arm here or there? Are you pointing your toes, when your choreographer asked you to flex? We constantly ask our students to make adjustments, for what is considered “accurate” in that moment in time. Learning to make adjustments easily is extremely important for any dancer—it allows the learning process to become fluid, enjoyable, and productive. Ultimately one hopes that making adjustments maintains good bodily health and well-being.
However, there are countless instances where asking dancers to make certain adjustments when they are injured, healing, or at greater risk for re-injury can be quite dangerous. Some of these moments may be: a student has a physical limitation such as an injury or disability, a movement is too painful to repetitively do, that there is greater risk of re-injury while doing a particular movement. When an unnecessary risk of danger for a dancer surfaces, it is appropriate to empower the student to modify accordingly.
To modify a movement is to take its core qualities and to employ them in another style in the body. An example of this could be that instead of executing a series of jumps during a routine warm-up, a dancer might return to the barre to work the feet and ankles in a lighter tendu exercise. Modifying is not to be confused with lack of focus, or being tired/lazy. It is an act of self-regulation where a vulnerable, yet capable student makes choices on how to challenge themselves instead of being forced to adjust to a certain mold.
I, like many others, was taught choreography by members of the “old school”: who would dance a student until they broke, and had little-to-no qualms about it. I learned countless lessons from my early teachers and they shaped who I am as an artist, yet now as a teacher myself, with short term goals such as class inclusion, teaching healthy boundaries, how to move when we’re injured, and how to appropriately overcome obstacles, modification is one of my most valuable tools for my students. This is true as well for my long term goal (which I hope you share with me) of creating lifelong dancers and movers, because while the human body has functional obsolesce (we eventually break-down), the desire to move can transcends that limitation. If we help students realize that they can keep dancing through movement modification, then these goals are much more reachable.
For many, this post is preaching to the choir and is old hat by now. However, If you would like to introduce idea of students modifying then please check-out our two resources below.
Sample lesson on movement-modification
1) In a circle, introduce a warm-up where each student (one-at-a-time) shares some way to move. Everyone mirrors the movement back, placing the movement in a different body part/side of the body.
2) Lead an exploration where everyone chooses their favorite movement/way to move. Explore all ways that a particular movement can be performed differently, using different body parts, levels, sizes, durations, etc. Try a different movement, and do the same. Perhaps do one more.
3) Employ an improv. where the students take their favorite ways of moving their favorite moves (that they discovered in their exploration) and try different ways to string them together. Keep encouraging new and different ways.
4) Students then develop a solo phrase: perform your favorite dance move in four different ways.
5) Finish by having the students present their work to each other in a class showing.
Build a lesson around
“Axis Dance Company”
AXIS Dance Company is one of the world’s most celebrated and inventive communities of performers with and without disabilities. Founded in 1987, AXIS has innovated an impressive contemporary dance discipline known as physically integrated dance and with it, strives to evolve thought around dance and disability.
Check-out AXIS Dance Company’s site here:
A Recent work from AXIS Dance Company, Divide (by Marc Brew), can be found through YouTube here:
…Zackary Forcum is a Dance Teaching Artist, who is attending Mills College Dance MFA Program, and sits on CDEA’s Greater Board…
Each day we instruct in the art of dance we ask our students, in one way or another, to be brave. To be brave enough to look silly and awkward as they learn. To have the courage to fail, or as is often the case, to fail over and over again to reach their ultimate goals. The gumption to dance responsibly with injuries, and to trust themselves to “modify” accordingly. To step into the unknown with their body-instrument that our society, in this digital age, often alienates us from. The challenge may be an invisible one, but it always remains: how will our students be brave enough today so that they dance to their fullest potential?
One answer to develop the resiliency and knowledge of “bravery” in our dancers is through strengthening our dancer’s “body awareness.” Body awareness can be defined by various movement practices differently, but I find Babette Rothschild’s psychological description to be a good starting point:
“Body awareness implies the precise, subjective consciousness of body sensations arising from stimuli that originate both outside of and inside the body.”
Rothschild, Babette. The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment. New York: Norton, 2000. P. 100.
For the injured dancer, understanding the body’s limitations, as directed by bodily sensations, can allow her to participate more holistically while she heals. For the self-conscious dancer, knowledge of the body’s structure and the boundaries of his physical body (guided by his bodily sensations) may assist him in employing a more grounded presence in class. For the disheartened dancer, knowing how to locate sensations and their associated emotions within their body can lead to managing their emotions in healthier ways, which can allow for improved learning.
Here are three ways to include body awareness building exercises into your curriculum.
Anne Green Gilbert’s “Brain Dance”
The Brain Dance, constructed by Anne Green Gilbert, is composed of a string of eight movement sequences based on movements that children enact in the first year of life. Research has shown that no matter what the age, reviewing these phrases on a daily or weekly basis in a sitting or standing position, has shown to be constructive in managing neurological challenges with the central nervous system. These exercises can be implemented in warm-ups and developmentally adapted per class and educational level.
An example of this for preteen and teenagers:
Explore “Upper and Lower” body region section by implementing ballet port de bras (the carriage of the arms) for the upper region, while focusing on foot articulation exercises (tendus, degage, etc..) for the lower region.
Want to learn more of about the Brain Dance? Check out the image across or hear how the Creative Dance Center of Seattle uses the Brain Dance system at the link below.
Yoga and the Body’s Interoceptive System
Yoga can increase body awareness through its combined mindful breathing, balance, and extended stretching exercises. These movements can allow for strengthening of the vestibular sense: a part of the interoceptive system, which assists in maintaining alignment and stability. The other part of the interoceptive system, proprioception’s kinesthetic sense can also be strengthened through Yoga: by continuously exercising our ability to mindfully locate parts of the body in space, the sensations within them, and to employ those parts, we can raise body awareness.
Interested in incorporating Yoga sequences into your warm-up or classroom exercises? Check out yogabasics.com Yoga sequences page at the link below..
Description of the interoceptive system inspired by Rothschild, Babette. The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment. New York: Norton, 2000. P. 40.
Ohad Naharin’s Movement Language, “Gaga”
“Gaga” is the movement language developed by Ohad Naharin, through his tenure with the Batsheva Dance Company, as choreographer and Artistic Director.
Gaga as a method has two tracks:
- Gaga/dancers: The day to day training of Batsheva Dance Company members.
- Gaga/people: Made available for anyone, without the necessity of previous experience.
While no evident studies have been conducted that the Gaga/people movement language has been used to strengthen body awareness, I would like to suggest it’s worth considering. The Gaga/people movement language is often employed in movement improvisations where large groups of individuals move as singular bodies, interpreting descriptive language given from a group facilitator. These interpretations are catalysts for introspection of the body and inner sensations through countless ways of moving by all manners of extremes. Gaga/people open the door to redefining limits of the body and how it’s composed, but cannot do so with involving our current understanding of our body-instrument. Thus Gaga/people relies on a constantly developing awareness: one in which use what we know of our bodies to reevaluate how to use to them.
If interested in Gaga/people and the Batsheva Dance Company please check out the links below.
***Zackary Forcum is a Dance Teaching Artist, who is attending Mills College Dance MFA Program, and sits on CDEA’s Greater Board***