CSULB Modern III – Week 2: Bartenieff Fundamentals

Hello there!

As you have read in the syllabus we will be exploring various somatic points of view from week to week. The idea is to investigate and apply various theories (and modalities) in order to expand our choices and see more clearly our habitual patterns. Hopefully, we may understand and affect profound change that produce the desired change we seek in who we are as movers. One of the goals of this course is to increase choices for dancers in their movement vocabulary. Some of the greatest results have come from a process of reaffirming one’s intention and to ‘unlearn’ and to be disentangled from previously held ideas that no longer serve each unique body.

This week and next we will explore Bartenieff Fundamentals and Patterns of Connectivity. I am posting some links here for you to look at to gain some background/perspective on who Irmgard Bartenieff was and what contributions she has given to our field. There are many more sites out there but these are the ones I would like for you to read and view. Additionally, I would recommend reading Peggy Hackney’s book, Making Connections (Ch. 4-5).




20 thoughts on “CSULB Modern III – Week 2: Bartenieff Fundamentals

  1. Last class was extremely helpful for when doing Bartenieff fundamentals because it felt like i was able to release my lumbar more and also helped me with the spiraling exercise. The spiral was a lot easier to do because my lower back wasn’t as stiff.

  2. I experienced an interesting thing about balance with the tendu/fondue exercise that we have been working on. I find that it is a different way of being on your leg than in ballet for me. Whereas ballet feels like squeezing and strongly engaging many muscles and sort of placing them somewhere, this exercise has allowed for a less placed and maybe less restrained balance, but one that is still very active. By allowing my lower leg to shift slightly or my torso etc., I feel like my body is more supple and moveable, and I can find some of the deeper muscles that are sometimes harder to engage. Also, I wasn’t sure how much to pointe my foot, but I felt like when I pointed it very hard as in ballet, my more superficial muscles such as my quads kind of took over and I felt more stiff. Allowing a continuous energy through the leg and foot, but not necessarily gripping them also helped me to feel more fully in my body and on my leg.

  3. We just started learning all about Bartenieff fundamentals in movement analysis today.We are reading the chapters in “Making connections” book and I just finished reading about the 12 fundamentals. Its really interesting and helpful to read about it then use it in your class and I’m glad this is happening simultaneously. Understanding the purpose of the principles of fundamentals makes me really aware of how my bodies moving and why I’m doing a specific movement.

  4. I loved the comment Gerald made in class about needing to explore the reasons why sometimes we feel uncomfortable or make funny faces while dancing. It’s weird to think that in just a split moment we can lose that connection.
    It was very easy for me to come up with an answer. I second guess myself when dancing(which is read easily on my face) for two reasons: when a movement phrase strongly involves ballet technique or flexibility. But why? Yes my leg might not go very high or my plie might not be the deepest with turnout, but that is not a reason for me to change my quality and purpose of movement. I cannot let an insecurity make a glitch in my performance.

  5. Class last week was very satisfying for me, I learned some issues that I struggle with in coordination and rhythm and I found it to be very important because with the basics I can grow and I believe the fundamentals that we are learning to coordination and rhythm can separate the intermediate from the advanced. Often we practice some cross lateral movement but the homologous(i might have spelled that wrong) was a nice challenge along with the rhythmic patterns 5,5,7,7,6,6. Our bodies are used to no only practicing 8counts, but also practicing the same 8counts or 6counts in a cycling order(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8/2,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,/3,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, etc.) I never even thought to coordinate the different counts like we did on Friday. I really enjoyed myself, the challenge was almost like a game for me and I wanted to keep playing until i won. Every class something a little different is added and it keeps my brain running, I feel by the end of this semester I will be able to pick up movement faster. Ill understand how to apply the concepts differently and rhythmically without tensing up and over criticizing myself for what is “correct” or for “what looks right”. I had a teacher who told me if something is not working right why continue doing it incorrectly, instead take risks and try something new to figure out what works so that we don’t build habits out of our mistakes. Gerald added to this when he said to take risks. Even if we don’t make it all the way the attempt in taking that risk is more appealing than playing it safe through the fear of performing incorrectly or falling on your face. So a goal for this semester is to release and be confident that we have control over our bodies and we create the movement. Somehow we all forget to breathe at some points in our dancing and breath which is one of the first fundamentals we worked on this week will help alleviate some of those struggles. It’s a nice reminder 🙂

  6. Also I found it interesting in the short clip how she held the scapula and half the pubic bone to her body as she did the diagonal knees, it allows me to look at the movement from another view because when i practiced the diagonal knees I was not thinking about relaxing or feeling all parts of the surface of my pelvis, I was focusing on doing nothing with my feet. And that is not necessarily wrong because I shouldn’t being pointing or flexing or fidgeting with my feet but I should be feeling all surfaces of my body standing and when we are on the floor, same as we felt all surfaces of our feet when we walked around the classroom. This brings a different awareness to the body and deters us from allowing the inactive or non-gesture body parts from slipping into the lazy/i’m not here state.

  7. I learned from Monday that imagery and intention are such a crucial parts of moving, but more importantly reppaterning. The Basic 6 are not necessarily new to me, as a class we’ve done some of them in Maria Gillespie’s class, but for the first time I felt that I was doing them correctly. I think that in a dance technique class the intention can drastically affect the experience, execution, and efficiency of movement. Simply copying movement is not the same as being coahced about what inspires the movement and how it can feel from a kinesthetic or even a poetic sense. Otherwise a lack of intention can perpetuate habitual patterns that will take over in even the (seemingly) simple things like the diagonal knee reach. I think that imagery and intention can catalyze new approaches and risks. I don’t particuarly see growth as reinforcing old habits.

  8. When we started exploring Bartenieff Fundamentals on Monday, I was having a hard time. The class was ok, but for some reason my body was resisting the movements. I think it’s because I lose confidence in myself with regard to what we are doing sometimes, and also I don’t want to be wrong. This happens more when something new and unfamiliar is introduced. So, it’s this weird push/pull thing that happens within me that I consciously try to break. On Wendesday, things got better. I was more confident in what we wer doing because I had some experience from Monday. By Friday, the movements we were doing felt more natural. I was not using the big, workhorse muscles, but I was using the smaller muscles instead. My body was able to relax enough to be able to melt into the movement, and my body felt more open.

    P.S. Gerald, you had mentioned that you started this blog when you were teaching in Germany. It’s not a big deal, but are you aware of the fact that the time is still on Germany’s time zone? (I just noticed it the other day.)

  9. I loved that in this video they had someone come in and follow Dr. Eddy’s movement with the femurs, half of pelvis, and scapula. In class when you prompt us to allow the knees to fall on the diagonal, I have the image in my head of those two long bone femurs falling lightly down to the corner like tall trees in a forest. I thought that was a very good aid for an instructional video on these fundamentals, especially to be able to bridge the gap between seeing the exercise visually and feeling it kinesthetically. I was also glad that she showed the oppositional spiraling of the two femurs with her hands as her knees dropped because it connected even further the idea of the movement happening from the deepest part of the leg.

  10. I really like the Bartenieff floor exercises that we do in class. I can sense the tension release from my muscles and find myself working in different areas that I don’t normally notice. I found myself working more with my bones and when we finally stand up from the floor exercises, I feel my muscles more released and I feel I have more range in my movements.

  11. I enjoy starting class on the floor. It has helped me relax and find a connection in my floor work! I am finding an initiation with my bones rather than my muscles. This is a grand feeling, and i am eager to continue on with this idea!

  12. Since I observed class on Friday I was able to see a few things I don’t normally get to when taking class. One thing i noticed like Gerald said, was the difference between the people who were really invested in the movement vs.those who were just trying to get through class.
    I didn’t really understand the metaphor about slang vs. talking poetically?
    One part of the class that I really enjoyed watching was when everyone simply ran and paused on their own timing. From an audience perspective there was a simplicity to it, but also so much more and if it were added to a piece I think it would be very nice to watch.

  13. Watching the Bartenieff video made me realize that I was making the exercise harder than it actually is. The statement “…it’s the depth of the action of the core that brings the legs back up,” also reiterates the concept that I just recently learned in a teacher class that I had.

  14. I find our exploration of the Bartenieff fundamentals to be very helpful in getting my body loose and warm for class and especially in preparing my lumbar spine for any demanding movement to come. I really like the knee drop exercise because it allows my spine to relax and find the floor. I was able to warm up this area and did not experience any low back pain during class on Monday. Gerald’s instruction on breath during this exercise really influenced my movements and changed the quality. I felt tense and hard on the floor the first time we did this. But after applying the breathing instructions, I felt more like jello and was able to feel a positive difference in the way my body interacted with the floor.

  15. Doing the Basic 6 this past week in class was familiar to me as I have taken Maria Gillespie’s class. I am glad that the class is going at the pace that I noticed that my body needed. I was aware that I needed to strengthen my abdominal muscles in order to maintain my alignment, not letting the pelvis anterior tilt on the floor and center exercises. I quickly realized how much stronger my body has become compared to the previous semester and need to push the limits of my own physicality.

  16. I like beginning class on the floor with our somatic practices because it helps get my body warm and ready for the rest of class. I also noticed a difference on Friday when we jumped right into the combo without doing the floor combination, that it felt a little more rough on my body. My lower back will get sore very easily, so I like being able to fully work my lower back and open it up at the start of class. I also really enjoyed doing the multiple time signatures while going across the floor on Friday. I have always done well with rhythms and I think as dancers, we get stuck in doing combinations in sets of eights. It was nice changing that up and getting my mind working because so often movement can become very brainless and robotic, and this kept everyone alert.

  17. I like the fact that we explore different ways of warming up. It’s not the same warm up every class which is good in my perspective because sometimes I need to warm up a different part of my body and let my body ease into it than just doing a set warm up. Sometimes it’s good to not have a routine. 🙂

  18. In all my previous floor work I found it difficult to sequence in terms of directions of the body. I would often get confused by which way my body should be facing in a given moment during a floor combination. I think the Bartenieff combinations that we have been doing in class are really helping with this.

  19. Although we worked on bartenieff awhile ago, Im still applying and using the work we did at the beginning of the semester to what we are workin on now and even my other technique classes. Finding a natural progression and allowing the natural sequencing within my body to be utilized in set movement has helped to make my movement feel more relaxed and not unnecessarily effort full.

  20. Floor work with Bartenieff Fundamentals was quite difficult for me. I know that this is very “fundamental” like the name says, but it is very hard sometimes to understand what part of our bodies are moving and how to correct them if we have already set up patterns of alignment and movement. I had the hardest time with not leading with my hips and keep the alignment of my sacrum always pointing on the right direction.

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