Recently, I’ve heard students say that they have had trouble connecting in their freedance. They feel bored, uninspired, awkward or lack motivation. Songs that once worked, now fall flat. Their head takes over, spewing negative self-talk that leaves the them impatient and waiting for the song to end.
While free dancing is usually fun and satisfying but for those who dance often and use it to relieve stress, it can sometimes lose its magic. After a disconnected student’s dance, doubt sets in and they feel depleted and frustrated.
Many dancers are aware of the mind/body/soul connection in movement but many find it difficult to go deeper into their own psyche to examine what is transpiring. It is the goal of my class to guide them through it. As the Sensual Movement and Pole Flow teacher, I now see dance as not only a fun and healthy pastime but a healing modality that is necessary to mental and emotional health.
Little validity is given to the emotional component of dance, yet this is where the magic lies. The combination of mindful breathing, meaningful touch, moving in the present moment, expressing vulnerability in a safe environment, and the willingness to see what comes up is a magical combination that is both healing and exhilarating. Dancers exploring these elements in their freedance can alleviate the boredom and frustration that sometimes takes over.
In my weekly class, we play with different assignments that facilitate movement and the mind/body/soul connection. Each week I take one of the above concepts and create an exercise that enhances, challenges or develops that particular trait. While not every dance can be epic, exercises done alone or in a group setting can take a student a little further in their journey. Here are some tips that can make your freedance a little more satisfying:
Mindful breathing: Breathing opens up the body, pull your awareness inward and allows yourself to relax. It is essential and yet few do it consistently. When you breathes, the body naturally relaxes and tension starts to drain from the body. The body moves fluidly, easily. Being mindful of your’s breath takes our awareness out of your head and into your body.
Exercise to enhance breathing: after selecting a song, focus in your breath for its entirety. Don’t move for the first minute of the song. As the song lifts, inhale; as the song falls, exhale. Only focus on your breath and your chest rising and falling to the music. Then, if inspired, start to dance.
Meaningful Touch: Touch is the direct physical connection to the body yet so many issues surround this concept. Many times a dancer will dance an entire song and never touch her body. Touching can bring up a lot of emotion. Rather than avoid the emotion, embrace it. See where it takes you.
Exercise to enhance touch: Start the dance with hands on top of your head, let your fingers slide down over your body touching every inch throughout the song. As the song ends, your hands should be at your feet. Let your touch linger on your body as it glides over it. Notice what your fingers are connecting to and notice what your fingers and hands feel like on your skin. Be focused on your hands the entire dance.
Emotion is the magic in dance. As you move through the above exercises, notice the emotions that are triggered. Allow your body to sink into that emotion, fearlessly. Feel that emotion move through your body. Let it lead you, release your negative self-talk and let go.