Week 2: Bartenieff Fundamentals

Hello there!

This week we will explore Bartenieff Fundamentals. I am posting a few links here for you to look at to gain some background perspective on who Irmgard Bartenieff was and what contributions she gave to our field. There are many more sites out there but these are the ones I would like for you to read and view so we can discuss in class.



Thoughts? Comments? Post here or bring in class…

See you soon,



10 thoughts on “Week 2: Bartenieff Fundamentals

  1. If we are going to use the planes of movement more in class, I think it would be good if at some point we have a demonstration with description for each plane (ex: frontal plane = this movement)

    • I will review the anatomical planes of movement again in class tomorrow. Meanwhile if you are curious there are many websites and videos that explain these planes very clearly. And, I highly recommend The Anatomy Coloring Book, p. 1 and 2.

      • Hey, I’m in Applied Anatomy this semester so I can bring my coloring book to class tomorrow if you’d like to take a look at it.

  2. I really enjoyed reading these two articles and watching this video. They were really big eye openers,and when I thought I was starting to grasp the concept of this body awareness idea something new to absorb pops in. In the first week of class I have found much out about my own body and mind, however there is still the question on how some motions happen and how they feel. Really diving into these readings is giving me a clearer understanding of what I should be feeling when engaging in these movements. I haven’t been aware of everything that I should be feeling in my body. There are things that I don’t think I’ve felt with some of there basic 6 movements. For example, when the arm circles were described and shown with the knee drop in the eddy exercise there is an emphasis on the scapula and how it opens up on the back. I am not really aware if my scapula is doing this as well when I perform the exercise, and I think it’s something I should be aware of. It’s a big part of the movement, and if I am doing it I should be aware of the feeling of doing it. I am really going to try to pay more attention to what it feels like in class (and I thought I was already… haha) it’s so hard to feel everything in your body, there are so many things to concentrate on. How do you take a step back and really feel everything as a whole? That’s why this information is so important, because I believe as dancers that we need to be aware of everything that happens in our bodies. I really think this is truly the next step, at least for me, to getting closer to another level of movement.

    I don’t really know if this post makes sense, I’m just kinda of ranting about an epiphany I had within myself.

  3. At the beginning of the semester, I knew nothing of Bartenieff Fundamental (BF). Once I watched “The Body Mind Fitness” video, I immediately saw the relation to our classwork; everything in the video, we execute in class. From day one of the semester, I simply thought Gerald was teaching modern exercises. More specifically, I thought Gerald was teaching exercises based on his own stylistic preference in modern dance. Therefore, I did not think anything of the exercises; I saw the exercises as nothing, but a mere warm-up. I now know the essence of why Gerald teaches what he teaches. I look forward to learning more about Bartenieff Fundamentals.

  4. I was particularly fascinated with Lesley Powell’s article on Bartenieff Fundamentals. I found interest when she began talking about how these basic 6 principles can be applied to any movement. When I think about the movement I have seen in class, at performances, or by pedestrians on the street, I originally thought it would be near impossible to come up with a description and/or classification for the wide range and variety. Reading this article helped to explain how although there may seem to be endless combinations of movement, all movement can be broken down and analyzed by the Bartenieff Fundamentals Basic 6. This week I have been thinking a lot about which of the basic 6 I am doing when I walk, sit, pick something up, turn to the side, etc. I seem to use the thigh lift a lot in my day and I am not totally positive but I think I am using the forward pelvic shift when I get out of a chair. I am still getting my planes mixed up a little, especially when there is a mixture of two or more directions in a particular movement, but it has been fun to learn about them not only in Modern but also in Ballet and Improvisation.

  5. Reflecting back on week two makes me realize little things about myself. I have a tendency to hold unneeded tension( as mentioned in my last post). I noticed that with this slight awareness, I would think about what was initiating the movement first rather than the end result of the shape I would be making. Taking the energy of the motion and transferring it into the next is a goal of mine. Also to release my head and give into gravity during floor work.

  6. During this week in modern, I had to re-focus on head-tail connection. In Dani’s class last semester we spent a lot of time working with this and applying it to other movements. The floor phrase felt good to me and I could sense the release into the floor and connection between my head and tail when curling to the sides. However, I had an “Aha!” moment when Gerald explained the benefits of dropping the head when we swing around through second position and up to an arch. Since I had never really brought my head down it seemed like I was moving in the most efficient way, but when I really brought my head towards my tail it gave the phrase greater fluidity. Another point that I’ve been pondering for days is the idea of initiation. When we were taught the arm swing series and were asked as a class which part of the body initiates the move, it took a minute for me to visualize the difference. Swinging your arms from the shoulders looks and feels so much different than initiating from the fingers. I was surprised how just looking at your hands can open up the space around you and makes each movement appear expansive and powerful. I always forget to push off the floor with my feet! I hear it time and time again in ballet but never thought of applying it to modern dance. I found it much easier to stabilize myself when using gravity to my advantage and actively imagining a pull-push energy.

  7. Bare Boned with Barteneiff Fundamentals
    These six body awakening exercises have grown on me and are finally now blossoming inside of me. To explain, the Barteneiff Fundamentals started out for me how Rudolph (the red nosed reindeer) started out with Santa’s sleigh cruisin’ crew. I Santa, my soma the sleigh, and my previous body awareness- the other reindeer. As Santa, I knew that Rudolph had the capability of guiding me to a new level of potential and I just wanted to throw it ahead to lead. What I have found was that “Rudolph” (the “six”) needed time to settle in and get aquainted with the other reindeer (what I already perceived of locomotion) before I could channel it with my soma. It’s a process, to get ready for Christmas but I think we’ve got this sled gearing in the right direction.
    As I continue to review the Barteneiff Fundamentals I’ve found special interest in the segment relating certain sounds made to different parts of the body. I have connected it to our recent “sound study” project for Music and Dancers class. It’s such a thrill when various aspects sync up!

  8. Looking back at week two I can tell that I did not understand Barteneiff Fundamentals fully at the time. And looking where I am now I still have a ways to go, but I feel a lot better about the movement. Wathcing the video and reading the articles really helped me with the movement that we were working on in class. Then as the semester went on I went on I went back and re-read the articles and looked at the video and I found even more connections as I was able to understand the concepts better from working on them longer. I have found that my dancing in modern flows more now that I have been exposed to Barteneiff Fundamentals. And I hope to continue to improve on them in the future.

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