Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Body at Rest Will Remain at Rest Unless Acted Upon by a Force…

This past month I’ve been inspired once again by a great series on TV “So You Think You Can Dance”. It’s a show I rarely miss since it was introduced a couple of years ago.
I often mention SYTYCD to my HiLo classes because it is the finest demonstration of the diversity of dance and athletic styles as well as a showcase for the amount of work that goes into each performance. You cannot watch this program without being moved by the dancers and the choreographers. It truly showcases the finest of both and the competition is fierce.

The large and growing group of young dancers that audition and progress in the competition have to do solo, couple and group performances and also be ready and willing to learn complex, physically challenging dance choreography in short time frames…and often the dance style is totally different from their own specialty. You will see the best examples of hip-hop, street, ballroom, lyrical, contemporary, Broadway…even bollywood and ballet. It is an amazing ride for the dancers and the absolute best entertainment for those who admire both athletic and creative ability. The level of artistry, risk-taking, confidence and then ultimate grace under pressure and criticism is beyond anything I ever get to witness.

I bring this up because everything you see can be applied to class, or any of your workouts. It is all about performance quality in everything you do. In more dance-oriented classes the workout is so much more than putting the foot or the arm in the appropriate place. You have to feel it from the deepest part of your body and then extend that expression beyond your limbs. The lift you feel when you jump, when you use every muscle from your toes, up your body to the top of your head and then reaching into your fingertips…this is what you should strive for. When you come down from a jump you have to work the same way to decelerate and cushion the weight of the body. It is like a coiled spring where every part of the movement is critical to the execution. There shouldn’t ever be a part of your body that isn’t in a conscious position. Even a static “hold” has the life of upcoming potential power. With practice and confidence you begin to see and feel the full-picture of dance and how even the position of the head can affect the look and feel of everything below. We hear the term mind-body so often as it applies to slower paced classes but it should be a priority in all classes with even a greater emphasis the faster the beat. When the momentum of speed becomes a factor the mind-body connect has to be in full force. The concept of mind-full movement should be applied to all your physical activities whether dance, sports or simply that walk around the block. Look beyond what you see as an external placement and get to that point where you feel it through every stabilizing or movement-generating muscle in the body.

I salute the incredible dancers on this show. They are mature beyond their years and will be able to tackle anything in life with this determination. In our own way we are doing the exact thing at the gym.