CSULB Modern IV/V – Week 5: PNF


This week we will explore PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation).

I have heard and I am certain that you have been dealt a great deal of information in this class. And, I know that it is a challenge to try to navigate through often overlapping, polarizing and seemingly inapplicable points of view about movement/somatics. Hopefully you can remain open and find things that may be useful to your studies and that you may integrate certain ideas that interest you and fold them into your personal practice. The intention here is to present alternative philosophies that look at ‘the subtle body’ that are not normally a part of dance ‘training’ so that your experience may be expanded. I am going out on a limb here and I am hoping that you will give the class some space to breathe.

Here are some links:

http://www.ipnfa.org/index.php?id=113 (a history of PNF)


These videos are a bit out there and specific to their academic fields but I think they are interesting to watch. Can you see the correlation between these movements and principles with what we’ve been studying in class?






8 thoughts on “CSULB Modern IV/V – Week 5: PNF

  1. This last week of class was a good reminder for me that I do not have to rely solely on my body to do movement, and that there are outside factors there to help. For instance, THE FLOOR! Thinking of the floor almost as my partner was interesting for me. The floor is there to take/support my weight, but I often forget that. Or perhaps its not so much that I forget, but instead am not aware that do not actually give the floor my weight. (Similar to how we were discussing that perhaps our ideas of what feels straight in the body is not actually straight). This became very apparent to me when Gerald pointed out that we were not letting our heads have contact with the floor during the first exercise. When we got together with a partner, I noticed how difficult it was for me to relax/share the weight of my head. I really had to fight with myself to not control/hold tension in my neck. However, doing this partner exercise did help me the second time that we did the floor combination, in terms of being more aware of allowing the floor to support my head, and the different moments that this was possible… This made me curious as to why I have the habit of wanting to control each moment or movement with my own body. Why don’t I trust and allow other factors to assist in movement? Perhaps it is my history of ballet training, or perhaps just an innate human instinct to want to protect my head. I’m still not sure of the reason, but I am glad that I have become aware of this tendency so that I can continue to work on correcting it.

  2. It was provoking for me to read and watch the articles and videos on PNF techniques, due to realizing concepts we are studying in class have been used on individuals with neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy. It proves that these techniques can be therapeutical to the body, which I can apply towards my own body. If I am feeling uncomfortable or in pain when trying to execute a movement, utilizing knowledge of PNF technique could help me find alternative ways to move without discomfort.

    On another note, I don’t want to miss modern class for the rest of this semester because I am so appreciative of all the information being shared! I see that it is all meant to benefit us and ours for the taking. It is an eye-opening and wonderful thing to know. It has been a great task to try and absorb something new every week, but hopefully I can piece concepts together by the end of the semester in a way that works for me.

  3. I have been extremely hesitant to post this past week. Every time I come onto this website and plan on commenting I have stopped myself and have wondered all week why. And now, after the finished week, I realize it was (and is) because I am still grappling with the small concept of what PNF actually is! I understand the clinical approach and the benefits within the medical field but am still sitting in a whirlpool of thoughts as to what PNF actually is OUTSIDE of a rehab clinic and how the movement patterns we were learning last week translate out of it. I sit in a great divide…for now I am turning my focus onto this description of PNF from the articles above to help bridge the gap.

    “As with all shifts in thinking there is going to be some controversy in how functional training is defined, however the foundation should be based on enhancing overall movement. In order for the body to function properly there must be cohesiveness between the muscles, joints and neuromuscular system.”

    Enhancing overall movement AND cohesiveness.

  4. I just wanted to express my thanks for the check-in last week. While those moments can be difficult and awkward sometimes, I felt like it was an opening for us to move forward in a trusting way. I certainly needed and enjoyed the shift in perspective that it offered.

    In terms of the PNF explorations, I really appreciated the 3-dimensionality of the movements. It seemed appropriate that we had our class conversation last week, with the movement investigations of opening and closing, opposing and coordinating. These qualities were central to my experience throughout the week, especially in the center phrase that began with crossing and rotating while moving forward. This exercise gave me an opportunity to explore how my whole body can participate in the opening, closing, and rotating. I caught myself disconnecting my head and my focus from the exercise, but felt much more satisfied with the experience when my focus participated. Perhaps, this can be food for thought in a larger sense as I start thinking about how I want to spend my time after school.

    • I’ll piggyback off of Johnna’s comment regarding the 3-dimensionality of the PNF exercises and movement explorations. I’m particularly remembering my own response to the moment where we curled the fingertips of both hands (and arms) into our shoulders and turned our heads toward the mirror. That single moment from class actually was my entry point into grappling with the PNF concepts. All week there were so many things happening within me in that single movement (coordination, internal and external organs twisting and finding rotation, etc)–and the great thing is that I know I can continue to use that image to access the idea of the 3-dimensionality of movement in general….

      Right now in my own technical training and composition, I am interested in pushing the idea of ‘volume’ even farther than I usually do. The PNF overview in modern class opened my eyes and provided more in-depth experiential learning about the subject matter than I have had in the past. I feel I gained some tools, as well as some failures to learn from, during class last week. But, the more I ‘fail’ at a combination, the more I learn about my own patterning, coordination, and on a parallel plane, how to teach movement to others.

  5. I agree with Belinda! The partner exercise on the floor put my weight into perspective. I noticed how much I hold back when trying to release in a curve or arch. I can definitely relax more and encourage my range to go that extra inch simply by accepting gravity. When we were spiraling our body around our partner, it helped me find a greater twist because I was trying to actual look at my partner. Sometimes in exercises I just look to where I’m suppose to instead of going beyond that point. It helped when we put our hands on our partner’s legs to push and pull while twisting. Even though I don’t have that partner during the first across-the-floor exercise, it occurred to me that I can still push and pull with the floor, along with releasing. Duh, Stephanie!! I also noticed that I make a lot of adjustments in between each movement, especially during floor exercises. I have been working on connecting my movement together for awhile now. But I really forget to connect movements together on the floor. I’m not sure why… but I’m going to continue to experiment with bridging my movements together by using a continuous flow of pushing, pulling and releasing into the floor.

  6. First I would like to say that I am sorry I tend to respond late to the blog posts but I really enjoy having some time to turn things over in my head a bit before posting.

    After reading people’s comments I want to also say how great it was to think about the floor and my weight in relation to it. I didn’t think that I was resisting the floor necessarily but with some more thought going towards my interaction with the floor I was able to find a little more melt, a little more stability, and a little more consistency through out each movement. Really something I needed to think about.

    In regards to PNF I was unclear as to whether I was suppose to allow my torso to twist and shift with each limb rotation or if the goal was to maintain shoulder, hip, and torso alignment while my arms and legs rotated at the insertion point. Then I remembered our task in this class was too experiment to quote you so I did. i tired it both ways and the ascetic was quite different. For example I really liked how it looked when I allowed my torso to twist with my upper body in the tendu section of class but I liked keeping my torso stable. I am going to try to think more about PNF in other classes, see if I can find something new, also have more things to make decisions about as I dance.

  7. Practicing PNF patterns in class this week reminds me of how much information there is in the body. I am reminded of how articulate we can be with the body as a whole, and we can be super articulate even when the focus is not on an individual body part.
    Before this summer I had never heard of such a practice until doing the Doug Varone Summer Workshop where a somatic practice was offered. We studied Irene Dowd’s PNF patterning, which Gerald has mentioned a number of times in class. In this class I picked up on some nifty ideas, such as the core working in three planes and imagining I had a zipper up the front of my pelvis, a drawstring around my waist, and pants which would draw up diagonally, all helping to lift draw in and fire up my core.
    I will say that practicing PNF in Gerald’s class has been much more helpful in terms of how he delivers the information compared to my experience in New York… Nevertheless, the concepts of articulation (internal/external/etc) of the arms make sense to me, however I wish to continue exploring how I may find the same articulation I have in my arms- in my legs!
    I really enjoy how we do exercises and are given clear instruction for what we are doing, and what the focus is on. Like when its orbits time, its time to work on pelvic circles… (or in my head- its time to get on my inner Beyonce), or when we are to do shoulders I like to imagine what the ball and socket look like as I am circling the arms (or in my head- its time to get my hummingbird flapping on) (lol), regardless of what we are doing, its enjoyable to know how I am to approach the exercise. Or rather in my head- what I should be focusing on receiving from the exercise to keep in my tool belt whatever I feel best for my own body.

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