Have you signed up for my newsletter? If you have, it gives you a chance to engage with me and ask me questions. I make a video once a month, and this year I’m going to choose topics from the questions my readers send me. February’s question comes from Dana, a ballroom dancer in California:
“Can you please address some ways to mobilize the feet for greater range of movement? What points would be helpful to use to be able to point my toe better? I’d also love to mobilize the ball of foot so I can rise higher on my feet (demi-point).”
The video is one of my longest – 12 minutes long – and even so I only answered the first part of the question. I couldn’t fit all of my thoughts on the topic into it so I’ll say more below for those of you who have the time to read. The question raises three important issues that dancers must deal with:
Issue number 1: Limiting Ideas
You may have an idea about the limitations of your body that is too narrow, based on your past experience. I have never had one single student that didn’t have more mobility than they thought! Mobilignment™, however, proposes that making more effort may not lead to more mobility – it’s the quality and specificity of your effort that will pay off in the end. So keep your dreams alive as you read the next two issues!
Issue number 2: Over-valuation of flexibility
Valuation of flexibility (which is a variation of shape) over mobility can cause imbalance in your movement. They are both important aspects of expressivity for dancers, and there is a lovely tension between them. In many forms of dance, a high arch and a super-pointable toe are highly valued. A pointed foot creates a line that extends the leg out into space. Strong feet allow the dancer to get high up on their toes which can be used to express elation (:-) and make turning and jumping easier and more flashy. Unfortunately dancers tend to over-contract the achilles tendon and calf muscles to point their feet, and achilles tendon injuries at the back of the heal are common. So is arthritis in the big toe from over-working demi-point. Mobilignment™ proposes that we can make a shape without becoming rigid and damaging our tissues.
Issue number 3: It’s OK to have limitations
Is an external aesthetic or idea about shape more important than your body’s limitations? I find that dancers often have much more mobility than they think, especially when they learn how to keep their whole body in their awareness instead of hyper-focus on only one part. That said, we all have genetic gifts and limitations. Some of the greatest dancers in the world have limitations like flat feet, inflexible spines, and other gifts from their ancestors. It’s how they put together their body, their imagination, and the meaning of their dance that creates the magic. Shape is only one tiny part of that. If you want to increase mobility it’s a good thing, but make sure it’s in the service of your overall expressivity, ease, and fluidity. Cause that’s why dancing feels good, and that’s why people love watching you do it!
WANT TO CONNECT DIRECTLY WITH CLARE? HERE’S HOW:
1) Free 15 minute phone consultation: (718) 243-2720
2) Private sessions in my Madison Square Park Studio in NYC
3) Private sessions online
4) Check out my YouTube Channel 🙂
WAYS TO STUDY MOBILIGNMENT™:
Next open online class:
Sunday, March 29, 11 – 12:30 EST
Go here to register.
MOBILIGNMENT TEACHER TRAINING: THE NEXT LEVEL ONE TRAINING WILL BY IN AUGUST 2020. INQUIRE FOR MORE INFORMATION!
Mobilignment™ Trainings are for movement teachers who want to take better care of themselves and teach more effectively. Mobilignment™ gives you ways to access the power of the Alexander Technique simply and quickly for use in the classroom.
The next Mobilignment™ Level 1 Training will be in August 2020. Drop me a line if you are interested.
Here are some of the things that my Mobilignment Level 1 Teachers say about the effects of Mobilignment™ on their teaching:
“My AT teaching has been SO EASY this week after the training!!!”
“My students are much more engaged in their own learning process and actively discovering things for themselves instead of me having to ‘teach’ them.”
“I feel relief at discovering what is holding me back!”
“It’s so important that I, and my students, have time to integrate our emotional responses to change.”
“It’s amazing to see myself clearly without critical judgement!”