Get Out of Your Own Way

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Watching the presidents state of the union address last night I was very impressed with how he had in my opinion decided to empower himself for the up and coming years to come. A born humanitarian, orator and negotiator he made me feel that he had finally taken the high road long enough. It seemed to me that what he was referring to after years of being blocked on all sides was that he was finally taking matters into his own hands to get the ball rolling and get it done. I am not a political person but I am what one would call an informed person. These last several years have been difficult for many in all areas of life. According to our higher sources this year of 2014 is the “action” year. And in my opinion his speech was a confirmation of just that.

His commitment to “get out of his own way” and just move forward type of attitude knowing it would all turn out for the best was very soothing to my soul. I feel I am doing the same thing for the first time in a long time. Creating gentle boundaries in my life with personal and business decisions, saying no when I would have never dreamed of it or had the nerve to do so. Initially I was dealing with lots of stress and anxiety when I finally realized I was acquiescing to others out of fear. Someone might not like me or I might not get that judging or coaching job. In the end it just held a lot of underlying resentment and after all these years I can still reconfirm I receive no enjoyment or satisfaction what so ever from those type of fear based decisions.

Not that I have the issues and responsibilities that our president has but I was impressed with myself that I could relate on a no fear factor and be proud of him and myself at the same time.

Why not get out of our own way with ballroom and latin dance. It is so difficult to work with a partner and acquire a result. The reoccurring stimulus of the pressure of winning, losing, making a final must be possibly what the president has felt every time he has been blocked or vetoed trying to progress forward. But he has stayed calm and cool under fire, carried on with integrity, ethics, efficiency and competency at all times and to my eye stayed true to himself. But I am sure there were great prices to pay.The news commentator kept mentioning how gray he had become. Really?

When dancing with a partner and being haunted by fear, unhappiness, failure, rejection it is time to get out of your own way. Not to depend on that other person for emotional, spiritual, mental support etc….Even though I am sure that is the ideal. While trying to produce a product and appeal to others for marks and status is a conundrum due to the fact that most couples make they’re living through a competitive venue. You most likely are doing things that you are not sure of, make no sense to you or just doing what someone else may have suggested to you possibly believing you may get the gold and title this time around. If that doesn’t work it might be time to get out of your own way and enjoy your own process. Of course it may be difficult if you and your partner are not on the same page but I have learned to have a relationship with me myself and I. The only person I stay true to is my inner guidance system- little voice and the Divine up above which in turn channels light and information throughout my heart soul and very being. By allowing this to develop into a love based relationship with oneself and the divine it creates a pretty amazing peace of mind.This is the true concept of the law of attraction. I admit I have a story board with pictures, meditate and pray daily, receive constant messages from the angels but that does not always achieve your goals and bring home the bacon. By learning to connect with the Divine through ones pure and positive thought patterns vibratory and energy levels definitely change things for the better resulting in like attracts like. Releasing old comfortable patterns which are fear based especially enhanced by competition dancing. It is a very large nut to crack and I of course admit I could NOT do this while I was competing. And if I may be so bold as to point out everyone is “fighting for the same piece of scrap”. But spiritual awareness has begun the higher powers say that our Golden Age will be completely upon us by 2027. I hope we are here to enjoy it.

I understand that dancers, competition organizers, studio owners all make a living at these venues but their will come a time when more than less will walk away from the field with an empty cup. In other words non fulfillment. This is ones most important time. You look back on what you have accomplished or tried to or how you think you failed. You can’t go back but you can change your perspective on yourself and others around you as you move forward. People operating in a fear based energy normally cannot be around someone based in strong love energy because they have no control or effect on them. And that is why after so many years people shifting or developing toward our golden age walk away from people, places and things that they thought would be a permanant fixture in their lives or each others. They seem to wake up from a sleep like state and everything has a new and different meaning or none. I hope this happens for all if not already most.

I think our president last night showed an amazing amount of courage in his perception,awareness  and presentation. I also know that everything is for a reason and predestined. I am sure he is the precursor for Hillary Clinton. I think his job this time around was to clear the way for environmental changes, racial and marital equality ,create a workforce with a united front to mention a few things and prepare the transition from the old world order to the new. Our next president will most definitely be a woman and because of Barack Obama’s legacy, true heart and light energy many things will continue to unfold before our eyes. Acknowledging the divine feminine as our countries future leader can only enhance the world of ballroom dance.

I hope this energy ripples through out the universe and affects the wonderful artists, dancers and organizers in the world of ballroom dance. May they all love themselves and the divine first, share that with all they come in contact with second and last but certainly not least get out of their own way and enjoy the process. So be it!

Bonnie Diaz
© All rights reserved January 2014

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Musicality! “People hear what they see”

ImageMusicality: • awareness of music and rhythm, esp. in dance: the audition panel was looking for coordination, musicality, and flexibility.

 Consider that musicality is an overall sensation or perception. The above definition implies the connection-coordination of something visual as one is experiencing sound. Actions produced with specific rhythms hopefully make a pleasing audio-visual experience for the audience, participant or observer.

The definition of musicality is an interesting subject especially regarding Ballroom Dance. So many venues to discuss and talk about. If you look at the old MGM musicals they are unbeatable. Of course they had amazing performance artists Fred and Ginger, Gene Kelly and the rest. But those super stars were also in a controlled environment.Those dancers knew each beat of music way before any performance as well as being supplied with character costumes, lighting, camera angles and of course as many takes as it took to get it right. One really couldn’t go wrong. It is pretty much the same with the current DWTS’s TV show. Remember Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” for a Paso -Doble?  Is this choice of music authentic? Perhaps not, BUT very marketable and camped up enough for the desired effect.They might not get as many takes to get it right but because of numerous rehearsals to pre-chosen music they have a great opportunity of producing their specialized routine. And last but not least let me share the memories of dancing the Cha-Cha at Blackpool to the infamous  song“Talk to the animals”. I saw extremely talented dancers in that venue actually  make me believe that was an authentic Cha-Cha. Talk about “cheeky”!  A memory that will live with me forever.“People hear what they see”  

I recently attended the Broadway musical Kinky Boots. It was AMAZING!!! The full package! Tremendous audience connection-participation and top quality performance artists on all levels. Producing a beautiful message of learning to love and accept one another as the end product. I am still smiling from the experience. The perfect musical coordination of past, present and the future of where many performance artists are heading. Encompassing Spirit, Mind and Body!

But lets get back to musicality in a competition venue. I have heard many wonderful lectures on how Ballroom Dancing has to be more authentic and connected to its “roots.” Dream on! Moving forward in todays society we have very few meeting places or venues to go out dancing to big band-orchestra’s that produced those beautiful Ballroom Dancing sounds. Never mind the disappearance of the authentic Latin Clubs to visit and dance to artists like the late Tito Puente etc…One can go to practice nights at the local dance studio but they seem to be geared more toward the competition rounds and wins. Not wrong but that seems to be where the current music has led and influenced todays dancer. And of course todays house music-hip hop etc influences EVERYTHING!  Who knows what those excellent musical directors or D.J”s will play on that day? History and authenticity are important principles. Good to share, to teach and pass on but sometimes not always realistic in todays competitive world.

From what I have observed due to the influence of the sport like energy in the ballroom field today’s dancer has very little chance of connecting to any kind of musicality unless they rehearse (aka: re-hear) to a wide range of songs before a competition or dance a solo where they can hit accents and highlights for all to enjoy. Time wise not always an option. Especially with so many dances to learn, competitions to attend and so many coaches to please.

This lack of connection to the music sadly in my opinion does not really encourage the dancers, especially the up and coming youth to develop their own personalities. That is what is so pleasing to the eye and ear to experience. To watch those personalities develop. Those young dancers are doing what they are told and imitating what they see and hear. Who can blame them? “People hear what they see”

But I have witnessed some terrific performances by dancers of all ages who are so well rehearsed and tuned into each other that they seem to be dancing in their special bubble and actually connecting with the music on the day. I take my hat off to them. In the gladiator like arena of the competitive ballroom dance world musicality seems to be the last thing on most peoples mind. I am sure they are dealing with many factors: Partnering, technique, floor craft, costume malfunctions, etc..very little time to make it around the room to be seen. A lot of stress and very little time to produce their hearts desire.

I have no exact answer to help these young performance and dance artists in the ring, on the way up or trying to hold a slot. All I can say is if you are true to yourself at all times, have the intention of producing organic movements, rhythms or actions that you can relate to you might just might make an impact next time around.

I will close by sharing a story from my mentor the late great Bob Medeiros who literally followed all the latin bands around the country like a groupie because he was “obsessed” with the rhythms and sounds they produced.

After dancing for the first time in England he came off the dance floor and complained to his then coach the brilliant Mr. Walter Laird that the bands were not playing correct or authentic rhythms for him to dance to. Mr. Lairds response to him was  “ Boy make up your own”. So when he went out for the next round of the Samba he would cluck his tongue and sing the rhythms out loud to his partner who at that time was the sensational Sheryn Hawkins. From that point on they always sang or communicated rhythms to each other as they danced so they had a common sound between them. They put in what they wanted to hear in the music so people could see what they heard.  Once again kudos to Mr. Laird, and a much more satisfying experience Bob assured me many a time.

Can competitive couples do that today?  I am sure many can. Maybe this will encourage dancers having difficulties hearing, feeling or producing rhythms and actions in their bodies. If one is enjoying the connection to the music and relating to a partner as they dance there is a very strong possibility someone in the audience or on the judging panel will enjoy it with them. And that is a good thing. Walking away from someone’s performance connecting with their interpretation of a Waltz, Bolero, MGM musical or the coordination of a Broadway show. Hearing, seeing and feeling what they felt and smiling because you shared it with them. That is musicality. That is worth the price of admission!  “People hear what they see.” Open your ears and see it.

Bonnie Diaz
 copyright June 2013
All rights reserved
Ballroomology e-book now available
http://www.Ballroomology.com
http://www.BallroomBarks.com

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Amazing Grace

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Amazing Grace.

                                    I can remember that song being sung at many weddings and funerals. And interesting as to why that song is sung at these particular occasions. Beginnings and endings. My biggest memory is when Elvis Presley “The King” of Rock and Roll sang it. I thought how amazing is that. “Elvis The Pelvis” chose to sing that song? I knew he had gospel roots but what motivated him to stay connected to that sound or even to those words or expressions? Grace amazing grace.

                                                    What is Grace?
1 simple elegance or refinement of movement: she moved through the water with effortless grace.
• courteous goodwill: at least he has the grace to admit his debt to her.
• (graces) an attractively polite manner of behaving: she has all the social graces .
2 (in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
• a divinely given talent or blessing: the graces of the Holy Spirit.
• the condition or fact of being favored by someone: he fell from grace because of drug use at the Olympics.
3 (also grace period )a period officially allowed for payment of a sum due or for compliance with a law or condition, esp. an extended period granted as a special favor: another three days’ grace.
4 a short prayer of thanks said before or after a meal: before dinner the Reverend Newman said grace.

With all these definitions pick one and see how they apply to ones soul, one’s spirit, a dancing partner, a performance or life situation. Which one of these definitions resonates with you? Does your partner or situation resonate with the same definition? Maybe different definitions apply to each situation accordingly. Or their could be one that is a constant through out.

Is being graceful an action someone is born with or is it a learned skill they develop through life experiences. How does someone become a graceful spirit, dancer or human being? How much energy does it take to develop an awareness of self and all those around you to treat each encounter as a “moving meditation”? A moving “graceful” meditation. Dancing with a partner in some form of a dance venue. Social, practice, competitive or performance. Should it not contain some state of grace.

When watching someone perform in any venue why do we experience some visual-performance artists as graceful and some not? How can people be graceful in a social situation and not on a dance floor and vice versa? Can dancers, artists and the like be mechanically and technically correct and still be graceful? Maybe, maybe not. It’s perception I suppose.

Is it like Martha Graham implied when you walk out on to that stage you are naked you cannot hide your soul. Is she suggesting that what is really present is a spiritual being in the form of a body.  Are we just a funnel or channel for the universal flow of energy called dance? Do other artists, painters, singers, carry this divine energy within to make them above and beyond the rest? Is this what created the da Vinci’s and Monet’s of this world.

Example: The seven Chakra’s of the body. We all have a central energy channel in our bodies hooked up to a higher power. Call it what you like but it does exist. Spiritual masters have written and lectured about them for centuries whether you are aware of it or not. Why could Mozart compose at age three? There are tons of examples like this through out history many existing in our time and of course many more to come.

If the lower chakras are more activated in a person does their dancing become more earthy, grounded, weighted or sexual? Do they become a sexual predator if their energies are out of balance? Have they fallen from grace. If a person’s upper body chakras are more dominant do they become a more light and ethereal heart energy. Is that what creates the great spiritual leader the Dalai Lama or shapes that lithe ballerina Gelsey Kirkland?

Can people who are predominant with different energy centers work, play or dance together in a state of grace? Can people activate these energies upon will or are we gifted with a certain energy in our bodies to give us our style, personality or life purpose? Can the one chakra of the heart be the true channel for all definitions of how to achieve and maintain grace and connect all as one. If one and all dance and live with an open heart can this change the perception of dance, and life as we know it on the planet. Possibly yes! I am sure at times one comes to a point in their lives where they have accomplished everything and it means nothing.  

Did great artists like Elvis Presley and Whitney Houston with their gospel backgrounds loose their original connection of loving what they do. Being gifted with a state of grace. Why did they end up with a monkey on their back and have to leave this planet way too soon? Are they not recurring and classic examples of the gifted human spirit falling from a state of grace? I am of the personal belief that all beings are born with these gifts but loose them along the way for what ever reasons.

It’s perception. Example: Our eyes are not really seeing they are just the vehicle our brain uses to perceive what is happening. If we go to different galaxy’s and solar systems(of which their are millions) there are sure to be different colors, sounds, languages that we are not conditioned to receive or perceive like we do on this planet. Therefore can we not become aware of a different energy to coexist with our fellow human being in a new and perceived state of grace. Dancing included?

This is the year of the snake, a number six year, the age of love, the age of Aquarius. Can a person who does not look like a super model or an A list movie star achieve a state of grace? Of course they can. We all feel a glimpse of it when we remember but we have been conditioned to forget. Open your heart to receive and give love. Make this your priority and you will be rewarded and transported into a constant state of grace. In the end that’s all that matters. Operating in a state of grace requires extreme concentration and awareness to stop judgement of your fellow human being, disconnect from all monkey mind chat and perceive everything with an open heart. The only cure.

The definition of emotional trauma is “waiting or expecting someone or something to give you fulfillment”. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and waiting for the change. Did it for years it’s NEVER going to happen.The only thing you can keep working towards is that open heart and love connection with yourself and the divine power up above. What ever that is for you. Your perception. It will give you peace of mind, safety, healing and allow you to handle any situation with grace and style. Who can ask for anything more.

I think if Elvis and Whitney could chat with us all right know they would smile, possibly hint at some of their mistakes, hope that we have learned quickly from theirs. But what if all they said was pick a definition of grace that resonates with you and life your life by it. Perception. It is so simple. We are born with it we all have free will to utilize it. Just don’t forget it! You will be truly amazed…grace amazing grace. It’s at the beginning and it’s at the end.

Bonnie Diaz
© copyright February 2012
creator of Ballroomology℠ “The Art of Moving Meditation”™ e-book now available
http://www.Ballroomology.com
http://www.BallroomBarks.org

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Ballroomology℠ “The Art of Moving Meditation”

Heart Chakra

Heart Chakra

Again after researching and being on my quest for the meaning of life after Ballroom Dance I have finally come up with the tag line of which I feel finally describes how I feel about the world and the Art of Ballroom Dance. And what must be taught so we can contribute back to humanity through this venue.

I have been on a year long hiatus from life due to the sickness of a very dear friend who I finally laid to rest on October 3, this past year. I was his friend and caretaker. I was with him last December 2011 when he announced to me he had a “pancreatic” condition and was by his side for his final breath on October 2, 2012. This experience has altered my reality totally. Of course I have experienced the passing of too many animals, friends and relatives. But I have not been with them every single second of the transition. I can only describe this past year as having witnessed the crucifixion and the resurrection.

Which brings me back to the words the “art of moving meditation”. When you know that someone you are with may leave this earth at any minute you value every second with them and take nothing for granted. Be it walking to the diner for a meal, watching a favorite show, or just listening while they share their life review. I often wonder why I did not regard everyone in my life this way in the past. Perhaps that is my lesson this time around.

Every action and thought we shared in this past year was literally a “meditation”. We had our ups and downs but deep down we both knew this was it. I know we both tried to be as caring to each other at all times. If I had to help him up or down, give him an injection or medication, or just hold his hand I was so mindful of the type of touch he felt. I wanted him comfortable at all times no matter what. And I believe in my heart that I did accomplish this and that he was at peace when he passed. The most interesting thing  “Fritzi” shared with me was how he was now convinced that their was a God or something greater up there. Through out his whole ordeal he had NO pain. He was so grateful for that gift from the Divine.

So my goal from this point on is how do you help people to become aware of their actions to create the “art of moving mediation”. Ballroom dance is so important. It teaches people how to treat and be aware of one another. In partnering one must be aware of the others person comfort. If we do this the rest is happiness and joy. Or the state of mind where we are just being grateful for sharing the gift of dance. Art Imitates life or Life Imitates Art so we can go either way. But developing rehearsal and technical skills to be in the cloud, bubble or  a shared aura with your partner is the key. Being pure of heart with intent to do good. One can never go wrong.

Being so tuned into each others reality that we can align ourselves with each other’s energies and survive any storm or disaster be it hurricane Sandy or not placing in the final or not making the final at all. How you view, understand or touch each other should be sacred at all times on and off the floor. Finding joy in mistakes and turning them around to work for you. Creating memories that you can share as you grow and age is priority. And I assure you will age not matter how many Botox injections you receive.

This energy ripples to everyone you come into contact with. A community for the “Art of Moving Meditation” would be my goal. Practice all of your technique and footwork galore but in the end there is only love. Unconditional love which will guide you to make the correct decisions and behavior we all secretly want to be a part of. Experiencing joy and happiness in life and most importantly sharing it in dance. If one connects to their higher power or to the God of they’re understanding the spirituality and meaning of life finally has a priority. How you do that is up to you. But before your career and life are over this will be something to consider. There are the sleepwalkers that are stuck in their last title of yesteryear and possibly rule with fear and intimidation to a select few to either persuade them to take a lesson or coaching from them or hire them for your next competition. Or the dreaded they will”Not Mark You”. They are just cowards operating in extreme fear. I mean really what does that mean? You have put your life or your self worth or your values on someone or something like a number from a pen and from a person who possibly never experienced dancing or even made a final round.

How do you instill this state of mind into the up and coming generations? The youth I see in public and private or in studios or in competitions I have deep concern for them. They are our future. The time to teach them skills in “The Art of Moving Meditation” through unconditional love is now. Making the goal of winning means nothing. This is all so temporary. In the end we are all here on borrowed time. Why will people wait for a disaster to become a community and treat each other gently and with kindness? In my opinion they have no love for themselves of any kind. Being vulnerable is a very scary thing. Daring to have unconditional love for yourself,others and a connection with the God of you’re understanding will totally alter what is important in your life and what is not. Not having this open heart will keep you in fear and not allow you to become who you really are spiritually, emotionally, mentally and most importantly how you can help serve humanity through the “The Art of Moving Meditation” and Ballroom Dance.

Lastly I just want to address the word habits. Habits: A regular tendency or practice that is hard to give up. Think about it. Are your habits stopping you from becoming a fully operating functional human being in every area and aspect of your life? It’s easier to get drunk than to jog or exercise. Easier to walk past someone in need on the street and continue texting on your phone. Easier to walk away in dance rehearsal because your partner pissed you off last competition. One must refresh their motivation daily. It is not easy but this is a criteria to carry on as a human being and of course a Ballroom Dancer.

In closing would like to quote Buddha. I think he sums up my thoughts on Ballroomology℠ and “The Art Of Moving Meditation”

1. Human Birth is hard to attain and extremely precious. We must do something of value with the opportunity.

2. All things are impermanent. The body that we are so attached to will soon be a corpse.

3. Karma is an immutable law. The results of our actions will return to us, so we must plant good seeds.

4. Samsara, the world of perpetual desires in which we have been trained to live, creates endless suffering. We must rise above it for our own benefit and the benefit of all beings.

I am so grateful to “Fritzi” for choosing me and allowing me to witness all of the above. I know I will continue to do him proud.

Bonnie Diaz
creator Ballroomology℠ “The Art of Moving Meditation”

http://www.Ballroomology.com
http://www.BallroomBarks.org

© Copyright November 2012

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Partnering An Aura. Really?

I looked up many definitions of the actual word ‘Aura”. I found wonderful and interesting explanations. But they all had something in common. A  sensation or a texture. I am writing this article in a non spiritual form. Therefore I will submit several different definitions to apply to this article.

1. The distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, place or thing.

2. An invisible emanation -a scent or oder.

3. Latin form the Greek breezy or breath.         My personal favorite.

Can one really partner an aura? Of course you can. You do it in every day life. Technically an aura extends about four feet around you in a circle. It enters the room before you do. You instinctively perceive it when walking down the street. Do you sense or perceive how to walk past someone without making physical contact. Or sit on a crowded subway with grace and ease? An action that we take for granted however it is part of our every day life and functions. And when you have or almost have a physical altercation with someone I guess you can say you did not partner their aura. Or you just can’t explain why you don’t like someones energy even before you meet them. Again sensing or feeling someones energy or aura.

But lets relate this to Ballroom Dance. We have to sense, track, feel and judge different speeds, shapes and distances when dancing with someone. Or if you are dancing in a formation you are partnering the aura or energy of the whole team into one great ameba. I always have beautiful pictures of Radio City and the Rockette’s with amazing precision dancing or the Irish Dancers especially Michael Flatly productions. But I digress.

The three types of leading or partnering in my mind are Visual, Turning and Shaping. These must be perceived and responded to with split second timing. You can practice for hours but as they say in the military if you can’t smell them coming down wind you haven’t got a chance.

Have you ever watched a couple perform a routine and time rotations in perfect unison without  ”seeing each other”? Or lift work that looks like nothing happened yet you saw the girl fly through the air with the greatest of ease? That my friend is partnering an aura. I don’t care what you call it. Connecting to a live energy and forcefield of a partner is the only way to go. People will say I don’t know it just happens. But I tell you whether they are aware of it or not that is what is being applied.

It is easier to develop these awarenesses by not doing set routines. Different exercises strengthen different senses. A non sighted person has amazing hearing and WILL react to a breath or breeze. Inner visions if you will. One person could have on a blind fold or keep eyes closed and react to any of the above or all three of the definitions stated. Let the sighted partner guide you around the room in different directions.Turn you, dip you, spin you. And of course the ultimate ask you to fall back into their arms. It can be any partner leading, following or taking turns. Alternate doing it with or without music. Use a waltz song to practice a Cha-Cha. Do a Viennese to a Rumba.You have to tune into each other so differently. And after all It is just an exercise. Maybe alternate and do it without music.

See if your partner can feel the exhalation of breath in your hand and respond to a change of shape, turn or direction. Alternate different breath patterns to see who responds best to what. Remember while competing or performing there is no guarantee that they will play a song that you like or that the circumstances will be perfect for you to perform. So get ready!

One person can keep the blindfold on the whole rehearsal. Have it on when you walk in the door change your shoes and begin. A great reference was the movie 9 and a half weeks from the 1980’s with Kim Bassinger and Mickey Rourke. He blindfolded her and just did different things to her. Fed her different things to activate her taste, sprayed different scents around her and my favorite giving her cough syrup. It was sensual, created trust but really showed how to partner ones aura or energy in a whole different perspective. Kind of like people on a spiritual journey who blindfold themselves live in a cave in darkness for a year. Talk about a change of perspective! I met a gal who did it. Trust me she was no way living in darkness. Going with in can only activate the light from the inside out.

We can become very used to each other movements in life and dance. To partner someone should be a breeze. Easy soft and gentle. We should be able to match or perceive each others breath for the ultimate partnering in dance. We should also be aware of doing this as an exercise by ourselves. It is important to be aware of the energy one is creating for ones self and for others.

An interesting exercise would be to spin someone like the game spin the tail on the donkey while they are blindfolded (gently of course) and then start dancing. They will develop a whole different awareness. The hearing changes, the smell increases, the body may react with a shiver to a new touch. It can be very interesting. And most importantly it is organic.

Rehearse outside in the park. What is the stimulus around you? How does your behavior change to your partner or to the people viewing you as you move.

Pick a color that you see as the other person’s aura. What does that color represent and how would you dance with that color as the goal.Pick your own color and do the same. You can do the same thing with smell. Burn some incense. Spray a chocolate scent in the room. How does that change the body language and perceptions. Dance in the rain like Gene Kelly, practice in the pool or lake like Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swazey in Dirty Dancing. Dance in the  snow or any type of texture that you can think of.

That is the key word TEXTURE! Whether you know it or not energy and aura’s create a feeling but they have a texture. And that is what you are trying to identify and recreate at will. Like these wonderful sound machines that are supposed to relax you. Birds singing, a waterfall, jungle sounds. They are all a texture that make you partner the auras of everyday living including yourself. The atmosphere that you have to deal with on an every day basis. When you are taking a coaching or a dance lesson or rehearsing with your partner remember you are partnering an aura.Your’s and the other people involved. And of course everyone else you meet. Pick your color, smell, texture sound or exercise and make it work for you!!!

Today I am feeling very orange. Really? How about you?

Bonnie Diaz
creator Ballroomology℠

http://www.Ballroomology.com
http://www.BallroomBarks.org

© Copyright November 2012

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Head weight. The Missing Link?

I have actually started to comprehend the use of head weight in dance after all these years. Not that my brilliant teachers and mentors have not tried to make me aware of it’s value, it is just my ears are now ready to hear.

Standing at the barre in a basic Finis Jhung Ballet class recently I finally heard what he was saying about the body’s plum line and how it shifts when a dancer has to shift his or her weight from foot to foot.

If our legs are in a split weight position as in a second position with equal distribution, the head weight naturally stays in the middle. As in a “semi- static” position like a grand plie. But we all must eventually move in some direction. If we shift our weight totally to the left foot it helps to visualize the inside of your left shoulder in line with the inside edge of your left foot. As well as the outside of your left shoulder in line with the pinky toe of that same foot. Let’s talk about that subtle mental shift of the head weight. The test has always been in dance can one rise or turn at any given time in a “state of ready”? This must be a conscious choice , action and addition to ones weight shift whether performing by oneself or with a partner. The actual action of including ones head weight in this action was literally mind-blowing to me. No pun intended. Once I understood that I must actually include my head weight and account for its placement in all directions life was beautiful. I could actually rise up and balance without much difficulty and with much more confidence.

I researched my thoughts and questions on head weight and actually found very little reference to its actual use in dance action. “Yes” I learned the weight of the head is anywhere between nine and eleven pounds, there are twenty-two bones in total. Eight cranial, fourteen facial. The bones are not formed at birth and that in the 1920’s the young osteopath named William Sutherland proved there was a motion or rhythm of the cranial bones. All excellent information but how do you actually apply and use your head weight while dancing?

Again back to the brilliant Finis Jhung. After drilling into the class about that center line and how to shift that position as I stated before he talked about progressing across the floor or room. He stated that when one is continually moving or turning to the right as an example that one must keep their head weight poised over their left shoulder. And of course the opposite applies when turning to the left. As soon as I had this awareness in my actions my dancing became weightless. My first thought was how do I transcribe this into helping Ballroom dance and partnering. If one is doing American Style this can be a very helpful action. One of the more difficult styles in my opinion. One has to pop in and out of dance position in a flash with perfect balance and placement. When I started coaching this and just hinting at it I must say I received lightening fast results. I also incorporated this into a basic underarm turn. Just telling the lady her head may stay poised over her left shoulder while turning to the right seemed to really help with balance issues and allow her to produce more speed, leg, hip, foot action and style.

Of course we have the issue of maintaining ones head balance and poise in a closed dance position. I think there are many factors involved. What level dancer are you. Are you so well balanced that you can take liberties with your alignment and posture. Basically it is always best in a closed dance position to shape ones body and head weight around a shared axis but there are always exceptions to the rule. Wonderful modern dance companies create whole bodies of work with head pitching movements across the stage defying acts of gravity to no end. When an advance dancer hits a pose line like a throw away oversway they may use their head weight with artistic license to increase the finished shape, to produce stronger musicality,light and shade of choreography or use it for a new direction, counter balance or lead for a partner. This applies to open partner work as well.

But I guess what bothered me the most on my journey was why it took me so long to catch on. And I realized several things I learned many years ago that just did not compute at the time. What is a walk? According to the Olympics both feet must be in contact with the ground at all times. That’s why you see those Olympic walkers kick their hip back and jut out their heel with a locked leg. To achieve the longest stride possible while maintaining correct contact. Which brought my attention to the human being and his or her walk. We have a natural rolling action(or gradual weight shift) we do not consciously shift our weight from foot to foot like a runner or a trained dancer. So our head weight naturally stays in the middle of our body.  So even if we practice hours in a studio we still WALK home in that state. For me this was the most amazing revelation that I had to consciously include my head weight with awareness in my life. As Ballroom Dancers we blend many different styles and techniques. Partnering is a whole different ball game. Using a gradual or instant weight shift may help us to produce the desired effect of a dance we choose to execute that day. Awareness of head weight can only help.

Head weight is an amazing tool. I thank all my wonderful mentors for trying to get in and around my head and never letting me off easy. And again so grateful to the magnificent Ballet Master Mr. Finis Jhung for being the one to finally let my ears be willing to hear.  Ironically attached to my head by the way.“The Missing Link” It was there all the time.

Bonnie Diaz
creator Ballroomology℠

http://www.Ballroomology.com
http://www.BallroomBarks.org

© Copyright November 2012

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Regarding Cuban Hip “Action”

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Regarding Cuban Hip “Action”

Lets address the word action. When I looked it up there were many definitions to choose from. The one I liked best was as follows: A gesture or movement. A manner or style of doing something. Typically the way a mechanism works or a person moves.

Again as I write I feel through experience that one must know what muscles are engaged when performing this action. A simple way to begin would be to face a mirror with legs together and alternate one leg straight and one leg bent simultaneously. Switch back and forth until your become familiar with the feeling and the look.

The bulk areas of the hip and buttock will be engaged.The Gluteals of course Maximus, Medius and Minimus. But specifically the lateral hip rotators. Piriformis and Quadratus Femoris, Obturator Internus and Obturator Externus. And Gemellus Superior and Gemellus Inferior. Fondly referred to as “the deep six”. The most important of these to address would be the Piriformis Muscle. I emphasize this muscle because it is the only one that starts at the front of the hip flexor and wraps around to insert into the sacral area. There is one on each side of the body. This is the muscle that the Ballet Dancers try to activate to maintain turn out. By practicing this wrapping action or visualizing it, it will help to engage the buttock area which must be active to create cuban hip action. Remembering that your hip weight may go back toward your heel but your body weight must remain poised or balanced forward. Or as I like to say toward the front of your foot. A good tracking action would be to visualize the femur or thigh bone balanced over your ankle bone. Also when shifting or splitting the weight the intent is to keep the weight forward even if you are moving the hip backward. The classic bow and arrow effect. Another example would be reaching the five toes back to extend a leg into a backward walk for Ballroom.Your standing leg is still pressing or staying forward to your partner. Or how quickly can you rise to your toe without any adjustment? These images will help you to learn gage the distribution of your body weight and see if you are balanced in the correct alignments.

But we must now think a little more dynamically if you will. The next actions I will speak about are what I call calculated or manipulated actions to add on to the simple forms stated above.  The ribcage. This must work in an isolated fashion in opposition of each hip. Example if you are pressing back into your left hip your right rib cage will pull away sideways or diagonally in an equal and opposite energized action. And vice-versa. Practice of this exercise enables your whole core to work in a unified and dynamic action. Resulting is much more visual and pleasing experience to the eye as well as possible additions of different body rhythms and musicalities. This would also be a good time to put on the music and practice these actions on the spot with each dance. Noticing how quickly or slowly the muscles must react to the different speeds of music to be “in time”.

The final area I would like to address would be the Latissimus dorsi muscle located underneath the shoulder blades. This areas can be used in a synchronized compressing action with the same hip being pushed back. Remember not to isolate the shoulders too much as they are the loosest joint in the body. Again this energy comes from underneath the shoulder blades. It adds a nice three dimensional flavor to the body rhythms on top of all the Cuban Hip actions.

And lastly I would like to address an issue I have been writing and teaching about for years. No matter what type of dance style you use it comes down to an instant or gradual weight shift or a blend of both. If you want to do a delayed or dropped hip action and transfer the weight gradually on a bent leg and call this “American Style” so be it. If I want to use the exact same muscles in the hip region and extend a straight leg in a Tendu ballet action and call it “International” so be it. The point is regarding Cuban Hip action the person in control of their body is making a style choice.The same muscles are being used to create this action no matter what you call it or how you choose to present it. Regarding Cuban Hip “ACTION”. Try not to dis-regard it!

Bonnie Diaz
© Copyright July 2012
http://www.Ballroomology.com

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