Breath. If you take a look at my dances, and really pay attention, you will see all the breath involved in my dance.
Generally a deep initial breath is the beginning of a freestyle for me. It’s my sign to my body that we are beginning. It prepares not only my body for what‘s to come but clears my mind, opens my chest, lifts my chin and aligns my senses. When my body is aligned in this manner, my mind follows. I use breath to lift myself, to aid in a roll, and even to prevent injury in some movements.
Breath is also reparative. It plays a vital role in our metabolic and lymph systems as it oxygenates our bodies. Enzymes oxidize nutrient compounds inside our bodies and cells. This oxidation process is our main source of energy. Therefore, I find it vital to my dance (since my body is my instrument) to incorporate breath as yet another movement to be mastered in my trainings. In doing so, you can also create beautiful visual effect for your audience as well.
Stand with you arms to your sides. Take a deep breath in. As your lungs max their capacity, notice how your shoulders begin to naturally lift your shoulders. Raise your arms with next inhale and as you exhale let your arms slowly flow down (almost like a birds wings in flight) naturally to the motion your chest and shoulders dictate as the air flows in and out of your chest cavity.
What happened to your arms, hands and fingers? Most likely your elbows, wrists and fingers naturally bent to form waves of movement that rippled out your body – which came from your arm, which came from your shoulder, which came from your chest, which came from your breath, which came from your intention.
The idea is to move your whole body with this intuitive intention, internally and externally and to let it flow naturally through you (eventually without thought). This simple idea can be magnified using your entire body. Practice these feelings and movements with breath in mind and let the flow radiate out from your center and breath.
Now take that energy and use it to guide the audience’s eye with your movements. I am generally aware of right where my audience is looking because I am directing them to look there…
It’s a bit like passing a ball: Sit with your knees to your chest and (with an inhale) capture the audience’s attention with a single hand up in the air. Slide (your hand) that attention down an invisible line running down the center of your face. Your audience is right there with you.
Maintain your hand at face level and with your next inhale slowly bring your ear and shoulder together, tipping the chin up slightly (anticipation and emotion present). Then with all that focus and attention at it’s peak in that movement, quickly drop forward (while exhaling) and extend one of your legs (to the front or side, whatever feels natural to your body) simultaneously bringing your hands to the floor (or whatever feels natural to you). The audience’s attention is now down to your leg/foot movement.
Continue passing the focus of your audience by ‘juggling’ this energy, allowing your breath to lead you. Think of yourself as a super hero who can generate fire, lightning or rainbows and move them at their will with their breath if need be in the beginning. Practice creating and moving this energy. Just remember, energy flows inward as well as outward – you don’t want to look like Poseidon in a fit of rage… more like a tree in the wind – ebb and flow – back and forth – in and out.
There are great visual and physical benefits to putting as much care into managing your breathing while you are dancing as you do your toes. When all the senses and elements align, the movement flows THROUGH us. 😉
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