Week 4: Irene Dowd’s ‘Orbits’

This week will be a little different due to my interview class on Wednesday. In an effort to try and stay on track I would like to review ‘Spirals’ with you. We will also explore the hip sockets by learning Irene Dowd’s ‘Orbits’. We will also look at other exercises and ways of moving the external rotators of the hip in relation to the bony structure of the pelvis. Additionally, we will address the adjacent muscles and how their mechanics affect the overall function of the hips.

Here is a picture and breakdown of the external rotators of the hip:



11 thoughts on “Week 4: Irene Dowd’s ‘Orbits’

  1. Three words I now have engrained in my brain after this week.. concave, lift and narrow. Working with the idea of Orbits in technique class have allowed my body to interact within itself, internally. Even though I am not much of a painter I would like to compare the feeling as one a painter would feel; one who only worked with a greyscale because he had no idea about the color wheel. At first the painter would feel a little overwhelmed and at liberty. Once he gets more familiar with the colors there is room to grow, be creative and embrace the new variables into his work. Same rules apply to a dancer, the idea of orbits and how they move around us and within us allows room for growth, inspiration and most importantly stability.
    On another side note…Gerald also made an exceptionally valid point on Monday during class. It was like another light bulb moment for me. He was talking about looking the part before you have the knowledge and technical capability. I appreciate how he embraces all body types and finds the beauty in them. It was very insightful for me, you can have an amazing or “society’s view of perfect dancer body” but if you don’t know how it works, or moves the physical human being starts to become irrelevant. I am still slowly making my way through reading Irene Dowd’s “Taking Root to Fly” and enjoying it! Thank you Gerald. Looking forward to next week.

  2. After this week with Gerald, I will never forget the words concave, lift, and narrow. Working with spirals, these three words are important to keep in mind in order to perform your spiral right without hurting yourself or getting yourself into a bad habit. Working on the combination on the floor over and over helped me to finally have a moment where I know how everything has to work together and where all my moves originate from. This was beneficial to me because the more I do something, the easier it is to focus on what I am doing instead of worrying about doing it right or forgetting parts of the combination.

    Today, when we walked around the room focusing on different ways to walk – forward, backward, to the side, from the left side of your foot to the right and vice versa, and from the ball of your foot to the heel – I really had to think about the way I was walking. Walking is such a huge part of our every day lives and I had never taken time to figure out how I walk and where my weight is. By knowing where my weight is, I can know the ways in which I balance because where I am comfortable putting my weight in my feet corresponds to the way in which I balance. This helps me in dance because balance is a huge part of dancing.

  3. There were a lot of ideas discussed in Modern today. All ideas were formed around the central idea of Orbiting. One thing I really want to focus on talking about are the combinations we performed in class today. Through the new and different combinations we learn each week, I can see myself improving and applying different concepts. The “starfish” combination has been my personal favorite thus far. I can really see and feel my body connecting with each move especially when on the ground rounding the body down (concave), then pushing and lifting up. Also really spiraling down when curving our arm underneath the other. There are many technical aspects when moving and I do find it hard sometimes to keep track of everything…but I know I’m improving on remembering those aspects! The other combination I really engaged in was the shoulder roll. Where we stand, in parallel weight equal in both feet and we let our upper torso and body release, as we begin to swing our shoulders, then our arms, then cross our arms, then uncross them. I find this combination to be exciting. I love how at the end of the shoulder roll we have added the curving in and the rounding of the back, then going to arabesque, coming down, then taking our standing leg and swinging it around. When going to arabesque I need to remember to keep that connection from my head to my tail. I tend to strain my neck and head and look up when really we should be looking down, having our head in line with our body. A lot of things are happening when we swing that rounding leg around to the front. Its really important to actually rotate that hip and to embrace the swinging of the hip of the standing leg as well. I felt that today was a very successful class, and I have seen changes in myself through these combinations, and I have learned a lot of new ideas that I can connect to through dancing. Concave, lift, and narrow! Concave, lift and narrow!

  4. When hearing the words, “lift your stomach,” the options feel endless knowing there are five muscles sprawled across our abdomen. I often feel like I’m solely sucking in my stomach and not completely awakening or engaging the proper muscles necessary for stability. Also, when spiraling, I always tended to lift my rib cage. On the contrary, “narrow, lift, and concave” is specific and feels ‘right.’ When doing so, my stomach and abdomen feels warm and active, rather than just sucking in my stomach towards my back. Spiraling adds interesting asymmetry to choreography, as it is vital to learn the proper way to control the abdominal muscles for stability when spiraling. Which is exactly what I have discovered as I have been reminded to ‘narrow, concave, and lift’. On another note, orbiting of the hip joint proved to be very difficult. As a ball and socket joint, you would think it would be a simple task to orbit the hip on an axis. This shows that average american lifestyle does not permit much activity of that specific joint. This shows that as dancers, we must contradict the predominantly ‘cultural’ affect on our bodies by awakening the joints and muscles that are not often used.

  5. In class on Monday when we learned the exercise moving across the floor in which we glided on the down-beat, I found the foot-work to be complicated. When I first saw the exercise demonstrated in class, I felt myself become tense because I knew that it would be challenging. I reminded myself that if I try really hard to focus on the combination and memorize it that I would not remember it and I would tune out detail and lock down. I decided that I would not think about it, that I would practice it and get it in my body and think about not locking my hips. I decided to go in the first group because I wanted to challenge myself to trust that I could do the combination without having the chance to second-guess myself. When I did this, it was an “aha” moment for me because I did not focus on the challenging exercise, I instead thought about allowing my hips and leg to rotate by not locking. I also was not afraid to make a mistake and I was not embarrassed when I stumbled on some of the foot work. Also, I did remember the combination much better than I expected to. I was also pleased with the amount of freedom I felt in my hips and the resulting sensation of “orbiting”.

  6. After this week in Modern I have been trying my best to focus on the way I walk. In Gerald’s exercise on Wednesday, he had us walk on the insides of our feet, the outsides, initiating with the heel or toes, and several different paces of walking. I was able to find out that since I have such a high arch, I tend to put a lot of pressure on the outsides of my feet and I also put a lot of pressure on my heel when I initiate each step I take. Today in class I wanted to see if I executed these habits while dancing. On releve I noticed that I should put more weight towards the insides of my feet, mainly on the first two toes. When I was really focusing on breaking my habits of going towards the outsides of my feet I was able to balance and turn more efficiently.
    I also enjoyed Gerald’s exercise of using Spirals and Orbits in the external rotators of the hips at the same time. Doing this made movements so much more interesting to watch and perform. Watching dancers use both concepts made the movement look large and also like they were using more effort then I knew they were. When I personally used Spirals and Orbits, my movement felt very free and like I was using the space around me as much as I could.

  7. Oh goodness…orbits are tricky to master. Being someone who does not normally like to even try to go off balance, it was very cumbersome to perform this movement. Connecting the spiral work with this new sensation, I found that concentrating on the sphere that I hold in my body helped in a way. I was able to feel lifted and stable in a sense and this allowed me to find some sort of balance. I especially loved the starfish combination. It was in this combo that I notice the tension start to leave my body in certain parts of the sequence. I’m hoping if we do this again that I will be able to explore in other ways how to get rid of tension

  8. Oooooh, Orbits!
    Going on my second semester of Alexander Technique, it has been brought to my attention of how hard I resist to allow ease in my hips and pelvis. This being so, orbiting my hips transversely comes as a challenge. I find myself, instead, tipping my pelvis anteriorly and posteriorly which I think would then be on the coronal plane? I do recall however, after observing my peers while executing a segment of our class choreography, applying the visual learning and getting the sensation that I had a grasp on it. That has got to be a good sign right?? I do think a part of my hardship with understanding orbits came from missing class that Monday. I remember asking Elise what was taught that day. She said “orbits”. I asked her if it was cool, because it sounded cool. Well Wednesday came and I witnessed how cool it was and I’m still extremely bummed I missed the orbit introductory day. I feel like I missed insight that I may never inhabit. =(
    But all in all, I feel that including orbits in motion builts texture on the movement, and a fluidity that brings each persons unique style to choreography. Because each person is built so differently, it hadds interest and curiosity, even a touch of abstraction when dance incorporates more than just shape. It appears to ignite and encompass a defined intent. And through intent, our true, organic beauty can be reflected.

  9. Orbits are an interesting way for us to gain balancing strength within our bodies and not “over-moving” a limb or portion of the body but by keeping the movement simply

  10. Yesterday we did a combination that began with tendus in parallel facing on a diagonal. We lifted the downstage leg in parallel then we would fondu to the front changing facings. In this exercise we went from parallel to turned out as well as changed facings but we did not have to move or shift our standing leg foot to do so. This made so much sense to me now that we have talked about orbits and how the leg can move while the pelvis stabilizes or the pelvis can move and rotate on top of the leg. In this case we were rotating the pelvis on top of the leg, which resulted in a turned out leg.

  11. To this date in modern I have never struggled with anything as much as I did with orbits. I understood the concept in that we had to move our leg by starting the movement from the leg, the hip, or the leg and hip at the same time. But I found it really hard to just move my hip without starting any motion from my leg. I believe this is because I had always been moving my leg and never tried motion from the hip before. I also had a hard time with moving my leg and hip at the same time. I found it really strange at first and difficult to balance. However as we moved on and the concepts of orbit came up again in the semester, I found that when I engaged the upper half of my body with concave, lift, and narrow I had a much easier time holding my balance. This was really helpful for me to notice about myself, in that when the focus is on one half of the body I tend to forget about the other half. I have become more aware of what the rest of my body is doing when I am moving just part of it, which in turn has helped me a lot in the control of my movements.

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