THE NERVE TO JUMP WITH THE SPINE
To theoretically know what happens in the body is very useful when we train to master a specific technique. Yet, without the real experience, it only remains theory. This workshop proposes to explore specific core muscle exercises, which teach how to jump with the spine. It happens in correlation to the presentation "Neuromuscular and Neurophysiological Connections to Core Muscles, Source of Dance Technique and Artistic Expression" which is presented later.
Inherent in the spine's neuromuscular function is what the French call "auto grandissement". This reaction to gravity is taken care of by the core muscles. It is such a natural part of our automatic movement patterns that we need specific exercises to become aware of it and thereafter use it consciously. To increase the spine's movement potential and create neuromuscular memory, i.e. automatic movement patterns along its curves, we have to augment our perception with increased visualization we learn how the bones, the muscles and even the inner organs participate in the movement. This radically changes the movement's quality and speeds up the learning process.
What I call the "accordion exercise" is a key to the understanding of the spine's elasticity and "breathing" quality. Above all is the understanding of the principle of pushing-off from gravity. Unlike Baron Münchausen we cannot lift ourselves up by the hair! Increasing strength and function in the core muscles creates mini movements along the centerline of the body, improves alignment and increases the space between the vertebrae. Flexibility and balance are improved, and consequently the superficial muscles can relax. The neuromuscular, and psychological memory thus developed can then be used for jumping with the spine. Neurophysiological, because the muscular sense of the core muscles cannot be separated from the emotional. The emotional state of letting the spine sink and rise and how this information can be used from a dance technical, artistic, as well as physiological point of view will be explored: Are we sad because we let our spine sink, or do we let our spine sink because we are sad? Can we let our spine sink and not be sad? Just relaxed, lazy or tired? Does mastering the movements with the core muscles mean we can master our emotions?
The "accordion exercise" (inspired by Danis Bois, founder of the "Fasciathérapie" and "Gymnastique Sensorielle") can be done sitting on a chair or standing, but in order to "wake up" as many core muscle fibers as possible I prefer to use a moving surface and in particular an Overball. Awareness of the spine, the different diaphragms and organs, their relation to gravity and each other all come together in this simple exercise. Danis Bois proposes that we become aware of the inherent movements of the connective tissue (fascia) and wait for it to initialise each movement. To do so we have to stop and wait. He calls this "Point d'appui" - "Support point". If you cannot feel it, start the movement whenever you feel like it.
When you integrate the concept of the accordion-neuromuscular-pattern throughout the barre, jumping in unison with the spine becomes obvious. Taking the weight off the legs, their effort becomes secondary and, if not effortless, jumping becomes less of an effort and elevation improves.
Sit on the
Overball, legs turned out, knees bent, heels together, hands on
the knees and the eyes closed if possible. Become aware of the downward
force your body exerts on the Overball, and the upward force the
Overball exerts on the pelvis and the spine.