Week 3: Irene Dowd: ‘Spirals’

For the next two weeks we will explore the work of Irene Dowd. This week we will look at ‘Spirals’. Here are some links to Irene’s background and information about her work. If you have not yet read her book Taking Root To Fly, I highly encourage you to do so. Also this will be a good week to bring a mat if you feel you will need some sort of padding since most of this sequence will be practiced on the floor.



Spiral staircase


6 thoughts on “Week 3: Irene Dowd: ‘Spirals’

  1. I really appreciate this scientific approach to movement. Personally, I view dance, particularly ballet, as very specific and technical. I too believe that the most successful dancers are also scientists. Unlike business people, a dancer’s success is not measured in monotary gain, but rather longevity and legacy. These are the people that refuse to fall into habitual, monotonous movement. Rather, they are constantly checking in with their bodies and reevaluating how they are executing their movements. Another positive aspect to this cerebral movement experience is injury prevention. The subtitle of these exercises helps the performer to know if they are moving in a way that will lead to a serious injury, while also providing preemptive strengthening and support.

    • Julie,

      That was said so well, and I most definitely agree. Dance is not only the beauty as the aesthetic of the movement, but the body understanding and control that makes it so remarkable. Our bodies our living machines that function in so many different ways, shapes, levels, styles, that we as artists find it impossible to live within the “standardized” pedestrian movements. The fact you said a dancer’s success can be looked at as ‘longevity and legacy’ is perfect. It is with understanding your own being that makes it possible to achieve the extraordinary. For me particularly, the week spent in spirals was hard! Being very precise and athletic without the muscle explosion I am used to expecting. It definitely helped me become more aware of many different aspects of my body, especially fine-tuning the areas we do not always pay much attention to. For example, lying on one side, posing in knee-to-knee, one knee slightly wrapped behind the other, and reaching all the way through the upward spiraled arm to a rotated hand was an incredible feat of such detail in a fairly simple position. Spirals are something I need more time with and work on, but it was a great introductory week.

      • Chrisitna,
        Oddly because of our differences in body type, I feel the same way about spirals. I think that they are something that one develops throughout a lifetime of experiences. This weeks classes, with Miller and Klein, are more the way I sense you felt during spirals. Very cerebral, specific and physical (at times).
        You rock.

  2. I found the articles about Irene Dowd both helpful and interesting. Reading about her philosophies on anatomy and the use of the body helped to clarify, for me, the goals of the exercises we are doing in class. I especially enjoyed the article “Irene Dowd: teacher’s wisdom” and what she had to say about habits and the “right” way to move.I also appreciate Dowd’s belief in giving a dancer the knowledge and the tools to continue their own process of learning for the rest of their (long) dance career. Her beliefs coincide with other philosophies I have been introduced to over the past two years, namely the Alexander Technique and, recently, Laban Movement Analysis. These more anatomical, efficient ways of thinking have helped me immensely as a dancer.

  3. “The mind is an instrument of thought, not a museum.” We are constantly learning.

    This quote I find interesting because I never thought about the mind being an instrument but only the body. There is a connection between the body and the mind but to have the mind be defined as a seperate instrument makes me feel like I’m late on the game. I should of thought about this before but was too focused on my body and that would be where Irene Dowd brings up the that “Anatomy doesn’t tell us what to do, but how we’re doing it.” I have been working hard to move and understand the teachers movement but now after reading about Dowd, I have to start understanding how I can incorprate the movement with my own body fully instead of imitating.

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