Written By: Gabriel Blackburn
In Part 3 of this series, I started to explain how I began utilizing Somatics within my dance practice. For an introduction, I started with somatic reeducation of my spine, and worked into my shoulders, leaving you with a cliffhanger for where I may proceed next! Well strap in, our exploration has just begun! After the shoulders, I moved to the other set of proximal joints at the trunk: the hips. This was possibly the biggest epiphany for me, since my hips were one of my most problematic areas in my dance training, which only led to more compensations and wrong learnings. Somatics is rich in hip releasing techniques, from lying supine, to sitting in a chair, to standing. These practices paired with Yoga Asanas such as Chair Pose or Forward Fold, were like changing an old lightbulb in my hips and I was able to illuminate the joints in my mind’s eye. Once I had newfound access to my hip crease, I had a new movement exploration: finding freedom and control initiating movement from my hip crease.
Once my neutral spine was at my disposal and connected to functioning shoulders and hips, I was downloaded into a new understanding of gravity. All of a sudden, the force that I may have viewed as holding me down was falling effortlessly through my body into the ground, and rebounding back up through my spine. It was like my relationship to the Earth itself was strengthened, and gravity was the language we communicated through sentence structures of movement. Naturally, this increased my balance. It also freed up my grooves. In many urban dance techniques, there are base movements to the style, which can be a building block to create more movement off of. These are often called grooves. On top of balance and grooves, I was also able to access more levels of movement from low, to medium, to high. I was able to access these by utilizing and maintaining power lines through gravity. This opened up three individual movement explorations: Balance, Grooves, and Levels. It also created an overarching movement exploration: Playing with gravity.
One of the most exciting things is that these, and many more movement explorations, can be utilized by any kind of mover to greater their competency. Amidst my exploration I had a one-on-one Zoom call with a Yoga North ISYI 500 hour teacher training student, who also happens to be a dancer. We had differing interests and expertise in movement but were surprised by the amount of research we had in common that was put into practice differently. His application was much more in the Ballet and Modern realm, whereas I utilize combinations of different Urban Techniques, such as House, Krump, and Funk Styles. Not only were we able to share commonalities in the integration of Somatics to Dance, I was able to give him new insights of how practices I used could be translated to his practices, and he instructed me in a few practices that I was able to add to my repertoire. And the exploration doesn’t end there for me, or dancer, or movers from any walk of life. Somatics is a science that opens the door to a nearly endless spectrum of integrated explorations.