Welcome to UW-Milwaukee, Modern I/II, Spring 2012

Welcome to our blog! This site serves as the online community/discussion group for my Contemporary Dance Technique class here at UW-Milwaukee.

This class meets Mondays and Wednesdays 9:00 am-10:40 am in Mitchell Hall 256 from Jan 23-May 9, 2011. If you have any questions please feel free to email me directly at gfcasel@uwm.edu.

Have a great semester!


18 thoughts on “Welcome to UW-Milwaukee, Modern I/II, Spring 2012

  1. For the first day of class and being back in the groove of things I thought the combinations we learned and the techniques we discussed were very insightful. Breathing was one idea that I had to really concentrate on during class. When on the ground and our knees up, we breath in and our diaphragm inflates, personally making my lower and upper back lift up and off the ground. When I exhale, my lower and upper back slowly start to meet the ground again. For me I had the opportunity to focus on keeping my back on the floor when we exhale and to make sure I am not arching. This same idea goes with standing in parallel. I have to be aware to not arch my back and to push my pelvic bone a little forward. The first day of class went really well and I cant wait for Wednesday!

    • I have troubles with arching my back as well. I was trained in Irish dance where the back is arched in an extreme way so your post definately made sense to me. It’s much more noticable when you’re laying down because you can really feel how far from the ground your back truly is as opposed to where you think it is. For me it has helped a lot to concentrate on engaging my core because it seems to elevate me more and eliminate the arch in the back. I’m looking forward to class tomorrow, too!

      • Hey Jennie! I remember talking to you about this before we had Improv class today. However, while doing our warm ups today I did notice I was doing the same thing with my back. We were on the floor in our X-shape with our backs against the floor and Gerald pointed out to me that my sternum needed to touch the ground. Arching my back is such a bad habit for me because I naturally walk with an arch in my back. I never noticed I was doing this with my body until this class and ballet. It really takes a lot of focus for me to correct the problem while doing other exercises. Hopefully overtime we will all fix this problem of ours.

    • The first two days of class were a success. I enjoy the environment of the class and the calm atmosphere. The combinations are progressively getting tougher but overall, the challenge is good and I have learned a lot so far in these two days.
      I, also, arch my back a lot. Not as much on the ground as I do when I am standing. When I am laying on the ground, I am more aware of the arch in my back so it becomes easier to fix it, versus when I am standing, I am unaware when my back is arching and when it is not unless I engage my core which helps me correct this issue. I am very happy with the rate at which we are going and I can’t wait for more days to come!

  2. Today after class my body thanked me for giving into gravity, especially when executing floor work. I felt more grounded and connected than ever. It is really exciting when you unearth new habits that need to be tweaked. The phrase “authentic breathing” was engrained into my head the rest of the day, it was one of those “light bulb” moments.

  3. When we did the exercise lying on our backs with our legs straight up in the air, our feet flexed and our arms reaching for our feet to bring us up to our sit bones to balance there, I noticed a body habit that I hadn’t noticed before. I tried to contract my abdominals to bring me up to my sit bones instead of allowing the reaching of my arms to pull me up. I couldn’t get myself on my sit bones until the third try when I realized what I was doing and released my abdominals. It was almost effortless to get there! That was an insightful experience. Thankyou.

  4. This first week of modern classes has been very interesting, I am finding out a lot about my body and my mind. The first day of class I noticed that I was really concerned with what was going on around me. So much that I forgot about myself and what I was doing. I have a tendency to be nervous. So, the next day of class I tried to focus in more, when I really applied the breathing techniques it helped me to calm down and be more in touch with my body. This act alone helped me very much, not only in my mind but very much in my body (the body does what the mind wants). I realized that I have a tendency to pop my hips back. Lying on my back on the floor has helped me to better understand how to keep them in line with the rest of my body. The other thing that I found was, when I lay on the floor and arch back I twist my neck. It’s really odd, because If I was standing my alignment would be off center. I enjoy being on the floor, it makes me realize how off center I can be and the way my body feels when everything is correct. The challenge is applying it to standing.
    I have really enjoyed class this week! It is very fun and exciting. I looking forward to seeing how I improve as a dancer though this class! Thank you!

  5. During the first week of class I found that with all of the floor exercises I was tightening muscles that didn’t need to be used. By noticing this I am going to try and focus in on what muscles I use for each exercise. By doing this I know I will grow as a dancer. I will be able to lift my leg, pirouette, ect, almost effortlessly by using the correct muscles, instead of tensing up unnecessary ones.

    • I also realized i was using unnecessary muscles on the floor and while standing. I was mostly holding a lot of tension in my back, shoulders and neck, which ultimately made it more difficult to do the exercises fluidly and correctly. I noticed that when doing floor work I really tend to arch my back and crunch my shoulders down and together.

  6. I absolutely loved the first week of class! I have never been in a modern class that has been structured in this way. I felt that everything we were doing felt very natural and connective. One thing flowed into the next somewhat seamlessly. Each exercise felt like we were supposed to be doing it. I also enjoy the aspect of learning not to use parts of our body as well as learning to use others. So often in dance we are just taught to raise our leg or strengthen the muscles that are working and we do not focus on what we are doing that could be preventing us from being better technically. I really enjoy being able to notice when I am holding a muscle that I do not need to be and to then be able to have the freedom to let it go.

  7. The first week of class was both challenging and helpful for me. I found that I often feel like a fish out of water – very much out of my element. I often come into a dance class and think of the end product, the combination that is taught by the instructor. Thinking that I have to get every nuance and step right away and this distracts me from listening to body. In this class, I have to sit back and explore a new way of dance that is often times out of my comfort zone. In the floor exercises, I notice that I hold a lot of tension in unnecessary places. This affects my ability to lift off the floor with ease. I hope that with each class, I will be able to find ways to engage my body and mind to let everything go.

  8. The first week of this class has been awesome. This is the first class where I have really been challenged to move by listening rather than seeing. As Gerald mentioned, he does not really want to demonstrate the first few weeks of class and I have been challenged to think more clearly about what parts of my body are being engaged during each exercise. While I appreciate both ways of learning, the listening approach seems foreign to me. However, after being presented with primarily an audible explanation of each movement this week, I already feel that I am better able to articulate the movement. I am hoping that this challenge and new approach to learning movement will increase my attention to detail and assist me in analyzing dances.

  9. This is the first time in my entire life that I have taken a modern dance class and I have to say that I am loving it! It is so different than any other dance class I have taken and I am really having fun with how it is pushing me in another direction. I have never had a class before where the instructor did not show the movement first, and I find that it is difficult at first to let go and not start looking around for what is the correct way to be doing the movement. However, now that I have had a few classes I feel that the challenage of finding the movement at first on our own to be exciting, like I am discovering how my body works for the first time. The thing that I never noticed before is how much I use my back to move, when I really do not need to. I am planning to work on not using my back as much this week so that I can get better at the combinations.

  10. My body and mind really enjoy this modern class. I’ve been digging how we are taking things slowly as to generate a real concrete understanding of what is going on within ourselves. I feel this is important because we must first get a grasp on how things work before we can successfully portray what image we are striving for in our dancing. I feel I have being doing well with releasing excess tension and now I am really working to use all of my length. What I’m continuing to struggle with is my pelvic placement. I have been having small breakthroughs with that though… it’s just coming slowly. I have been able to feel that I do hold tension in the pelvic and sits bones areas, but once aware, I am able to release that tension. One more thing…. leg spiral. Ugh.

  11. The second week of the semester has began and I have already found myself more in tune with changes in my body. With a considerable amount of class spent concentrating on breath and initiation on the floor, I feel a significant change in my relaxation while dancing, whether it be holding tension in my muscles, or calming my heart rate when learning a new combination. Similarly, I enjoy the emphasis on ‘verbal teaching’ as opposed to being shown everything in class. I feel that I retain the information more clearly because I am concentrating on the positions my own body is to take, rather than ‘copying’ an instructor’s positions.

  12. The first week of class has been great as well as challenging. Previously I have not taken many modern classes so this has been fun but I also need to really focus. I find myself holding tension in my back especially during the floor work. I am finding that using your breath really helps to stay calm and to be able to move more freely through the combinations (especially on the floor). Since I am not very comfortable with the modern style I find myself second guessing what comes next and so on. Also I find myself nervous especially when we break down into groups for center combinations. I am hoping that with continued determination I will be able to feel and move more comfortably through the class as well as gain confidence with the modern style!

  13. After the first week of class, I’ve noticed that I hold a lot of tension in my body where it doesn’t need to be. I also find it challenging listening to the steps instead of seeing them, because I am such a visual learner. But because I have to listen, it makes me more focused on what my body needs to be doing. I will say that my strength in dance is more of the modern style but I can tell that Gerald will definitely push me out of my comfort zone and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester entails!

  14. I have known for awhile now that I hold a lot of useless, extra tension in my quads, hip flexors, and gluteus. It was not until this week did I notice the tension I can hold in my arms and more specifically in the shoulder socket. When executing the distal arm circles, I think, “Reach, reach, reach!” What I noticed is that I ultimately think “big” resulting in a lot of energy going to the arms. The problem is that all of that energy becomes locked in the shoulder joint and tenses the arm muscles. Instead of the latter, all of that energy should extend out the fingertips like rays of light. I think that if I wake up my body more before class I will be able to loosen up and relax into movements such as an arm reach.

    One of my favorite moves in the entire class is when we are lying on the floor and we extend into a small, crossed arabesque. I do not find the lengthened stretch from the fingertips to my big toe, but when I begin to sequence into the “x,” I feel an amazing stretch through my always-tight hip flexors (or is it the iliopsoas?) I love it!

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