Week 11: Practice

This week, rather than introducing a new idea/concept (as described in the syllabus), we will practice what we’ve been studying. I think with all the added guest artists and a rush to complete so many things on the syllabus, I have decided to pare it down. We will not delve into instant composition. Instead I will give you a practice class. I would like for you to look at how you practice…How do you enter the room? Do you jump around and discuss the weekend? Do you look for stimuli – what are they? Is there a short or long term objective you are working with today? Are you dressed properly? Did you get enough sleep/rest? Can you concentrate and be absolutely present for the entire time, devoting yourself to learning and listening? These are some questions to ask as we move into this week.

Also, remember that David Zambrano’s shows are this Saturday, April 14, 3:00 and 8:00 at Todd Wehr Convention Center at MSOE. If you have not yet written a critical response paper, this is your last chance. The Peck School of the Arts has reduced price tickets available (29$) @ the PSOA box office until Thursday 4/12 for all our students, faculty and staff. Run, don’t walk to see this show…


Have a great week!


13 thoughts on “Week 11: Practice

  1. Yesterday in class we became in tune with how we absorb information, and how we process visual information. I have learned that personally, when in-taking new material I always have to watch the instructor (Gerald) first, to see all the placements
    of each body part and the different weight shifts, where and when to shift your weight. After watching the details I go to a place where I have enough room and I start figuring out the combination myself, how my body responds to certain moves and placements. This learning method is effective for me, I’m not the type of person that can only stand there and watch. I must be moving and concentrating on my body and personal habits. The floor combination during class was my favorite. All floor combinations that are taught in class I always tend to gravitate towards more then the standing combinations. I love the idea of rolling stretching your body, twisting and turning your core, and most of all being able to move quickly. One idea that I did struggle with was when on the ground sitting up we spiral our arm underneath our other arm, then we extend our outside leg from our little toe to come up and reach up and out through our midsection. The idea that held me back was the uplifting and rising of our core and to fully open that section of our body, shoulders reaching down, and to keep reaching out and to the diagonal with our toes. During the next couple of times we had preformed the combination I had to always be conscious of my body stretching, focusing on my core and shoulders. Keeping that stretch consistent and really opening up.

  2. This past Monday’s class Gerald told us he wanted to see how we “practice” what we have been studying. Some things that I noticed about myself was I should come to class earlier in order to prepare myself to be focused and completely ready for the start of class. I feel myself zone out from time and I think by standing more towards the front of class will help me to stay more focused. During the combination on the floor I found myself really start to connect with my body. I noticed myself start to stretch my body to its fullest potential and I really tried to apply the idea of head tail connection to my movement. One combination we did that I struggled with was in the center working with lifting our legs from turn out to parallel and being able to maintain strong and balanced. I heavily struggled with turning in, I was able to stay strong especially during the front and back attitudes. Parallel position is something I continue to struggle with because I am so used to having to work from turn out. I look forward to Wednesday’s class and continuing to work on the idea of “practice.”

    • So after reading your post, Alyssa, I realized that a lot to do with how I practice and the reason I am able to focus is because of how I fuel my body. Because I eat so well all the time, when I don’t, I can feel it and it’s a reminder of why I eat the way I do. Every time I have some sort of illness or ailment I am constantly looking up natural ways of bringing myself back to health; and because of this I have learned so much about nutrition. Therefore, I will share some of my knowledge… Every morning that I have a dance/technique class of something I know I have to concentrate for an extended period of time, I eat oatmeal. This is because of all the things I can put in my oatmeal. First of all, flaxseed. Not only does it prevent heart disease, stroke, and cancer but it’s packed with fiber and omegas. Fiber keeps you sustained, and omegas work to form the membranes of every cell in your body and play a vital roll in the active tissues in your brain. Second is CACAO! Yes cacao, it’s not just some random word used in the show Portlandia which is what most people think I’m talking about when I say cacao, but truth be told I don’t even know what Portlandia is. Anyway, cacao nibs decrease blood pressure, improve circulation, promote cardiovascular functions, improve the function of the cells that line the circulatory system, basically they increase energy and improve mood. They give you the overall sense of well being. The first time I ever got them I was so eager to try them that I ate them at night and because of eating them, I couldn’t fall asleep! I also add honey, berries, Keifer, and cinnamon. Those all have lovely health benefits as well but the two ingredients listed above are the biggies! Oh yea, I also take a shot of apple cider vinegar every morning but I’ll let you look that one up yourself and you can see if it’s worth it! 🙂

  3. Today in class I noticed I am very internal while I dance. I am so concentrated and focused on what my body should be doing, I forget about where my focus should be. After I noticed this in class I tried to pick certain points in the room that I could look at and focus on instead of being internal with my eyes. I found that once I used my eyes and focused on certain areas in the room, the movements of the combination became more fluid with my body. I am going to keep trying to move organically, and not be so internal with all of my movements during all the class combinations.

  4. Today and Monday after class, I took time to reflect on how I practice. I noted that on both days I never danced to my fullest potential. Particularly on Monday, I lagged far behind my efforts than I am happy with. I also did not do any self motivating and found myself ready to dance with about 10 minutes left in class. Today however, after being aware of mind set on Monday, I put effort into being in the classroom and not being too tired to dance yet I feel this mind set takes work and practice. I need to practice how I practice. In beginning of class as well, I caught my “it’s too early syndrom” working when I noticed myself on the side of the room simply watching the group before me dance (more like zone than watch). I proceeded the rest of the class to mark the movements in these moments, not to please the idea of practice but to better myself as a thinking dancer.

  5. How I practice has dramatically changed over the years. When I was younger, I entered the gym, excited to flip and leap around, but more excited to goof off and make people laugh. It was not unusual for my coaches to get fed up with my shenanigans and make me sit out for 10 minutes! 😮 As I got older, I started to realize how serious I was about my gymnastics and how positively it impacted my life. At that point, I toned down the jokes and in turn, began to see a vast improvement in my form and skills. Now, when entering the studio, I notice myself quiet down internally without having to remind myself. I begin stretching and think about how much I have improved from gymnast-to-dancer within this past year. It reminds me to not return to old habits. Similarly, it motivates me to make positive alterations with my dancing each day. I am so much more in tune and I listen intently when learning new combinations. At the beginning of the year, it took me quite a few runs to really grasp onto a new piece. Now, I am catching on more quickly and focusing on performing the combination myself without having to watching others.

  6. It is very hard to wake up in the morning and have to dance when you did not get a good nights rest or you are very tired. I am somewhat of a morning person but sometimes I do not like waking up early to dance. It takes a lot of preparation, you have to wake up first, stretch, and warm yourself up before you can dance to your fullest potential. After reading about this week on Sunday, I really focused on how I entered class Monday and Wednesday, figuring out what I do and how I practice. I found myself trying to engage in everything and improve the way I practice. At the beginning of the semester I was just showing up and going through the motions of the day, but as the semester goes on, I find myself really paying attention to everything that is being taught and trying to fully engage myself so that I can practice and perform to my greatest potential. I feel successful with my efforts but I know there is still a long ways to go. This week has helped me realize that I need to keep focused and continue to improve the way I practice so that I can eventually become fully engaged.

  7. Last Monday was a little murky for me. I found myself quite unaware of my body through time and space. I also discovered that my attention for minor details simply was not there. For example, when Gerald taught the adagio; I watched everything he executed, but I struggled to pick up the intricate details. I was somewhat un-attuned to the content. However, on Wednesday, I felt much better. I was more aware of my body through both time and space. My movement felt much more organic than it did on Monday; I felt as though my entire mind was in the class as opposed to just my body. The dance studio is viewed as a dancer’s sanctuary, which means all burdens should be left at the door. I need not to bring my uncertainties or worries into the studio. My mind should be completely clear of anything irrelevant to dance; nevertheless, I must work on that. From now on, my goal is to be more focused and attentive to as many details as possible; I just want to show more consistency. I am consistent, but I want to be even more consistent. I will not rest until my good is better, and my better is best.

  8. This week in class we worked on how we practice and learn a dance. I make sure that I always get a good night sleep when I have dance classes the next day because I have learned from the past that I have a really hard time learning anything when my body wants to go back to bed. I also make sure to drink some water and eat before starting the dance class and then to drink water and have a small snack after the dance class. This really helps me stay focused during the class and energized to keep going through the rest of my day. However, i noticed that I sometimes cross my arms and sit relaxed while watching dance material. When I stand like this I tend to tune out and can miss the little details that make the dance. When I catch myself doing this i try to do the opposite and get involved, moving my body to learn the dance. I find that this helps me a lot more when learning dance material. During these last four weeks of class I am going to work on making sure to get more involved while I am learning dance material.

  9. In preparation for class, I like entering the studio somewhere between five and ten minutes early to loosen up my tense body and groggy mind. There are times when I enter class with some sort of mental barricade and those first minutes in the studio can help clear it so I can “be present” for the whole class. Something interesting that I noticed about myself and my approach to class is that I have a comfort area in space; I like to stay to the back and to the sides of the room. During the center combination that (I think) was in 3/5 time signature, I was in the first group and in front, close to center. I knew the combination, yet I was blanking because I felt the pressure of everyone’s eyes. I can do well under pressure when I have to, but since most every class I place myself in the back, I threw myself off. I think that this is a sign that I should try to get out of my control box and experience movement from all places of the room so I can gain a better understanding of how it feels to move in a more foreign place. It is not a big change, but it’s something.

  10. I’ve been getting frustrated with myself, feeling like nothing is connecting for me whether I can’t remember a combination or I can but I don’t put all the components together. After this week I felt like I’d been holding myself back trying to make something happen instead of just letting it happen. I noticed on Wednesday although I wasn’t perfect in technique I felt more confident in class and was making progress. I think we need to remember that success is different for everyone and you’re the only one that can make it happen, just don’t try so hard.

  11. I have noticed that in practice I am easily discouraged, I am also impatient with myself. I have high expectations for myself and when I feel like I am missing a connection or I do not understand the combination, I become panicked, tense,and discouraged. I am trying to look at others to understand what to do and what is happening internally at the same time. This becomes overwhelming. I become frustrated when I do not get it the first time and when I cannot see my improvement. I have found that when I watch others do the exercise and then try to do it, I overcompensate with my body and I move in undesirable patterns. This is because when I watch someone else do the exercise, I visualize myself doing it as they do it and looking as they do, which does not allow me to understand the movement on my body. Everyone’s body is different from each other’s and when I try to transpose how other people move onto my body, it fails. I have difficulty organizing my thoughts and focus in class and setting clear objectives for myself to practice. I try to remind myself of many ideas at once, I can see my body responding to all of my internal corrections in an exaggerated way. I have been turning my focus to not overly reponding mentally and physically. I am trying to learn how my body responds and moves without an affected mental response and without exaggerated interference.

  12. I enjoy having a schedule and structure to my day. Sleep is one of my highest priorities. I typically go to bed between 10 and 10:30 because I like to wake up at the end of my sleep cycle naturally rather than to an alarm. After waking up usually between 7 and 8, I lay on the floor in a constructive rest position so I can realign my spine and prepare myself for the day both physically and mentally. Some mornings I like to read or stretch depending on what time my body wakes up. I typically try to arrive about 20-25 minutes before class starts because I enjoy feeling the floor, checking in with my body, and stretching. Over the years, I have found that sleep plays a huge role in my outlook on life. I have been asked numerous times why I’m so happy and energetic in the morning and my response is usually “I drink water and sleep.” I personally believe that if people allowed enough time each night for them to experience a full sleep cycle the world would be a much happier, healthier, better functioning place.

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