CSULB Modern III – Week 5: Irene Dowd’s ‘Orbits’

I will continue on from Friday’s lesson. We will explore the hip sockets by studying 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.

On Wednesday, guest artist Janis Brenner will teach our class : http://www.janisbrenner.com

Although we are not learning ‘Resonance’, I thought it would still be of interest to post this video:


18 thoughts on “CSULB Modern III – Week 5: Irene Dowd’s ‘Orbits’

  1. When we first were learning orbits I underestimated how difficult they really were. Then when we executed the combination I quickly realized that it was a lot of hard work. I felt like I was more on my leg throughout the rest of the class, and I also feel like I cued into muscles that I have never really engaged before.

    • I completely agree! I’ve been learning so much over that last few years about how much dance really is about all of the little details. About all of the minuet changes we must make in our body placement and alignment in order to execute movement properly, and to reduce the likelihood of injury. Orbits, to a non dancer looks pretty easy…I’m guessing. But is definitely not! I’m excited to see what we do in class on Friday.

      • I think I was absent the first day Gerald went over orbits, so during the next class when I watched him go over the combination, it did look pretty simple. Then I tried executing it and realized that I was not on my leg at all, and it was a lot harder then I anticipated! It definitely got my deep outward rotators working though because they were sore as soon as the combination was over!

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed beginning class with the turn out dance and orbital exercise for the hip joints. Not only did I get warmed up fast but I felt more stable on my legs and found more mobility in the hip socket during the rest of class! I seemed to have more control of the deep external rotators which allowed me to achieve a more neutral position of the spine and pelvis.

  3. When we did the turnout dance, I noticed how hard it was for me to engage my turnout, especially the fifth position back. I know I have turnout but I didn’t realize how often I don’t use it to the full capacity and I don’t always engage the right muscles. I’m going to keep practicing this before class to see if I can notice the difference.

  4. One of the things that I have trouble with is flexibility and range of movement at my hips. They tend to be pretty tight and I try to stretch them out, but doing the orbits and turnout dance started to really open them up for me. Although I’m still working on finding my stability with this greater range of movement, I’m excited to see what these exercises will make available to my body. 🙂

  5. I was definitely struggling with the combination that makes the head lead and resolve itself. I think I like to have a very direct focus when I dance, but that is difficult when the tempo is quicker because my head would be flying in all directions. Trying to let the head lead with an indirect focus is extremely challenging for me and something I’m going to have to work on this week. I am still trying to figure out on how to resolve the head with the torso movements but without forcing my head movement…I may be over thinking it haha maybe better luck tomorrow!

  6. Today’s master class with Janis Brenner was very different than what I was expecting. I heard she liked to incorporate vocals with her dancing which made me a little nervous, however, by the end of the class I wished she would have used more. The vocal she used was more about breathing and releasing held tension through noise, not actual singing or talking. This technique helped me to focus on my breath and letting go of any excess thoughts.

  7. Jessie, Bridget and I did the spirals and orbits before ballet class on Tuesday, and we really noticed how it affected our barre. From the orbits, not only were my hips warmed up they were also stretched out and as everyone is saying, I felt so on my leg! I never want to take ballet class again without performing these exercises first.

    • Chelsea I think we need to do this before every class! I felt very on my leg and stable throughout the entire ballet class on Tuesday. But then when we didn’t do it on Thursday, I felt so off and couldn’t find my balance as easily. Orbits have helped me with stability, but now my hips and rotators are so sore (the good kind!). I’ve been trying to figure out exercises that worked for to me to increase hip stability, and I think orbits may be it.

  8. I’m actually surprised by how we’re only learning about this now. It seems to be extremely effective, yet this seems to be some sort of secret. I would have expected this stuff to be viral by now…. As a dance science major I find this fascinating because it seems to blend science with dance technique instead of only following traditional methods of dance technique.

  9. Orbits is another challenge for me and I like it but I had a difficult time feeling the movement in my hips the way I imagined feeling it. And I think this is because my legs are weaker in other areas or because I am not doing the exercise correctly from not keeping my knees straight. I found myself over thinking it as opposed to just doing it and I feel that limited my experience but I will continue to practice it so I can benefit from it the way I am suppose to. Oddly the area on my legs from above and below my knee is what grew tired most as opposed to my hips. With more practice I think I will get it, I could really see with some students the isolation of the hip in the hip socket and it looks more appealing, probably just as difficult but definitely more appealing.

  10. Who knew orbits would be so painful? 🙂 I had no idea that that small amount of movement could work so many muscles. I will for sure continue to do orbits throughout my dance career.

  11. In the exercises this week relating to orbits, I felt a little better about my knees; not locking them into hyperextension but working for a straight position. I felt most strain in the intrinsic muscles of my feet and arches and struggled with stability in my ankles a bit, especially in adding on to the combination where the leg rond de jambes and turns in back and comes to turned out front. I do enjoy the orbicular sensation, though, and there’s no doubt that these seemingly tiny exercises enhance one’s quality of movement greatly.

  12. Orbits… they definitely wake up my deep outward rotators and my peroneals! The first time we did orbits those muscles were on FIRE and I had to stop a few times and shake them out. I have been trying to do the exercise a few times a week so that I can build up my strength and hopefully not have to shake out my muscles during the combination.
    I really enjoyed Janice Brenner’s class and the knowledge she shared with us. What I found most challenging was when she gave us freedom to explore the combination and the music on our own without any limitations or boundaries. I found myself “over thinking” most of it and I didn’t allow myself to just feel the music or to even listen to my own body. I was too occupied with “does this part look good with the music right now?” “does this even look good on my body?” I should stop that, develop a new approach.

  13. I must say orbiting is becoming one of my favorite tool to warm up with as it really works the muscles in my supporting leg and warms it up really fast.

  14. ah that movement with the orbits and rond de jambes was so difficult!!! I found that i was straying away from the circular motions and started doing more of figure eights. I really tried breaking it down and making the circles smaller to see if it helped, which it did but i still struggled with the inner region.

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