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Viewing Mr. B's Episodes by Ballet Austin

George Balanchine’s Episodes by Ballet Austin October 2008

This piece goes far beyond what I have been told to expect from Mr. B, movement stripped to its essential beauty for its own sake.  I was surprised and awed to find what audiences have discovered in his ballets from the beginning of his career.

I am stunned.  I am invited and ushered inside Mr. B’s mind tasting every morsel of a dancer’s explorations.

I am meticulously told where to look, how to follow joints folding, binding, crumpling, twining.  My wired anticipations are shocked with hard female toes aimed at male ears.  My eye is tricked and teased to follow duos only to find unos instead.

Most challenging of all, I am invited to the vulnerability of dancers revealing the human beauty of the stutter, the stumble, the assisted flutter.  And I am challenged to believe that the floating flying bodies defy what should be pounding athleticism and reveal the utter beauty of the human spirit.

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Stephen Mills Liminal Glam poem

Stephen Mills  premier work Liminal Glam Oct. 2008

Rough Sketches by Tim Hurst

Power woman rattles whirling tutu, captures space and replaces planets therein.

Unilateral man equally brandishes boldness, lighting weightless space with certainty.

Meanwhile, uncircus circles explode ballet from the inside out.

Assembled, ensembled and then gendered, dancers become as golden drums undulating depths, while rattles unseat ancestral underpinnings.

Blinking stars in infinite space are interrupted by sliding and bending dancers, like jazz notes coming from far beyond an earthly blue

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Dancers massage themselves

Dancers quickly learn the trick of hands on healing by poking, nudging, or gently encouraging muscles that are calling out for help.   Sometimes it is a quick energize rub to warmup the muscles before dancing.  Or when a stressed muscles calls out, it might take a deep probe into the pain to allow the muscle to release.  At other times, it is important to encourage the muscle on its way to healing by applying both hands and simply being aware of what the muscle needs.

The hands can be a part of a three step process:  one, noticing how the body is connecting; two, making connections that work together; three, setting the connections in a brain map that will maintain the connections.  Dancers use these steps every day with their movements and many dancers also train themselves to use their hands to identify a stress, make a shift, and set the change in their brain.

What becomes important is exploring how we have wired our brains to attend to some muscles more than others and how we can change that wiring to support the entire system of muscle, tendon, bone.  This is why dance training is so unique and important.  The emergence of Pilates has attested to that fact.

The use of the hands is another component to rewiring the brain that has yet to be emphasized.  Connecting the body and brain is an on going mystery and depends on the body’s needs and the unique sensibilities of each person.  For example, some people prefer the defined nudging of chiropractic in order to clarify a ground zero of alignment for the body.  Other people require that the body and mind move slowly and gently together into alignment in Craniosacral Therapy.

Whatever the preference, with chiropractic the dancer must find ways to set the realignments into their brain map.  With Craniosacral Therapy, the brain map is set along with the body’s changes.  In this case, the dancer’s job is to explore the change that has taken place below the conscious level.  Some people prefer to work from the outside discovery and some prefer to begin with the inner change.

Dancers, being the scientists and explorers of body that they are, often train themselves to use their hands when their bodies need immediate attention.  Modern Dance classes often have hands-on sessions to demonstrate how to encourage release and healing in the body.  The Skinner Release and Klein Techniques encourage focused attention and specific action in areas of need.

Often dancers take the time to learn specific techniques in Accupressure, Jin Shin Do, massage, and Craniosacral Therapy.  This can be done by mini-clinics for learning specific skills, by getting some guidance from a friend, or by enrolling in a course to get in-depth training.

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Dance is couple therapy-the blowup

Dance is our best therapy.  Before our recent class, I got upset with Ginger for criticizing me and she got angry because I was upset.  We both left the dance floor where we were practicing before class.

As I have done many times, I said, “Rudy today is for counseling.”  Because he has been teaching since he was 14 years old, it does not take him long to get us moving again and practicing the communication skills we should be applying to dancing.

What he said to get us going was very helpful.  “Many people come to this point in their relationships.  They get mad at each other.  The woman learns quicker and can wield a critical comment here and there.  The man most times has little experience with dancing and is trying to think of the step, what is coming next, how to lead it, whether he is on the beat, and how not to embarrass them both.

“Some couples decide to quit dancing and they do not have the opportunity to go past that irritation.  So they keep that communication problem in their marriage.  It pops up in other ways.  You have the opportunity to use dancing to learn how to be considerate for each other and how to really learn how to communicate that to each other.”

“Now here is what I recommend.  When the man leads, follow him even if it is a mistake.  When the song is over you say, ‘Darling, I think the step went this way’ or ‘Darling, it would have been better if we had been on that strong beat with this part of the step.”

“Now for you Mister.  You always say, ‘Yes, dear.’  Or better yet, say, ‘Yes, dear, THANK YOU.’  So let’s learn how to use your arms to signal to her that you are not just directing the action but you are passionately connecting with her.”