Strength and Conditioning.
So the text I initially wrote for this one ended up a bit dull, basically boiling down to “keep your upper leg outwardly rotated and flex your hips a lot”. It wasn’t very accessible or transferable.
So, I thought maybe a little something about strength and conditioning. Now, my relationship as a dancer with “exercise” fluctuates between gleeful avoidance and guilty catch-up. I am in awe of dancers diligently doing their Pilates before rehearsal. My main strength is my appetite and I cannot grand battement myself in the head, so perhaps this is a good moment to take advice from someone else.
I’m reminded of Moshe Feldenkrais’ famous quote: “Make the impossible possible, the possible easy, the easy elegant”, and currently feel most interested in the middle part.
So: “overload”: the conventional training principle for body adaptation, you push your limit, your body adapts to move that limit further. It requires all sorts of motivation, it can hurt, but it works.
Another approach is what I think of as the “inhabiting” approach, rather than try to push limits your can try to be more comfortable with what you can already do, be that strength, endurance or flexibility. How easily can you do it? How little can you let it disturb you? How much of a minor feat can you make it feel like to yourself; before, during and after? Can you slip into and out of it easily, say while dancing?
My experience is the more I feel safe, familiar and comfortable with something the easier it is to variations of it, over and over, quickly, durationally and with minimal preparation. The more I stress myself by pushing from a place of lacking, the more I associate doing that movement with stress, effort and my own inadequacies.
I try not to think of the two approaches as mutually exclusive, rather by having several approaches you can use the one that fits how you are at the time. Sometimes counting reps and seeking joyful exhaustion is the way to go.
In this video I’m not dynamic stretching, in the sense of bouncing back and forth into a stretch, rather I’m questioning: can you move in a strong or stretchful way in which you try to not pursue the sensations of exertion or stretch, but inhabit the possibilities inside those limits? Also, possibly the topic for another video, considering the archetype lunge alignments (parallel lunge, Warrior Two™, Hoseriding Stance©… and I suspect I’m in dire need of corrections!) in balance with the infinite possibilities of movement. As a dancer what you put into your body is often what comes out; a diet of positions risks leading to positional dancing. Exercises might manifest as… dancercise?