THEA 33 – Week 1: 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).


13 thoughts on “THEA 33 – Week 1: Bartenieff Fundamentals

  1. What I really like about this technique is how natural it looks and feels. It’s like giving into gravity and allowing your body to do what it wants to do. I appreciate how it loosens up the pelvic joints; it really feels like they are being “flossed.”

    The visual aid of the bones while Dr. Martha Eddy demonstrates the movement was a really great effect. It was perfect for an instructional dance video and made it more tangible.

    -Zach Beckman

  2. I realized after practicing the Bartenieff Fundamentals in class that the entire left side of my body is less hesitant in “melting into” the floor than my right side. I hold much more tension and resistance on the right, though it is my dominant side, and noticed this during the phrase of movement involving the right shoulder blade extension and contraction.
    I also thought it was interesting when Gerald asked us to acknowledge the point of separation between the upper and lower halves of our bodies. I had never thought of this before, and the realization that for me it is the horizontal plane right above my iliac crests, helped me to move more cohesively and with intent to bridge the divide.

  3. I have been fascinated with the idea of “knitting the rib cage”. I have been aware that I have a tendency to let my rib cage go and that has a dramatic affect on my posture and my alignment. By holding the core and center of gravity i feel more grounded. Through the practice of Bartenieff Fundamentals I became acutely aware of the simple shifts of weight and how the weight of my limbs push down with equal force as the floor. This connectivity is so powerful when used in jumping and rolling to and off the ground. I find the play with weight shift to be very essential in this class and to be a big part of how I like to dance and choreograph myself. These basic somatic lessons learned from Bartenieff technique has really enhanced my view of how the bones work with the muscles in a relaxed and continuous way.

  4. While exploring the Bartenieff Fundamentals I realized how heavy each part of my body is. I never really thought about how many different muscle groups and joints are involved holding my head, for example, upright and attached to the rest of my body. By practicing being more aware of weight shifts, and placement, and actively trying to relax my jaw, eyebrows, and tongue, I became extremely aware of the force that gravity on my head movements. It was pleasant and very different to relax into gravity rather than try to work against it.

  5. I have never come across and Bartineff technique before this class but I really like how it takes a more scientific and physical approach to movement rather than it being purely aesthetic. I say this meaning that it is designed to align the body in a very efficient way without any notion of looking pretty or performing for an audience. I like this because you don’t have to worry about pointing your toes or impressing anyone but rather heightening your own personal range of movement because everyone’s body is so different (as we discovered in class with all the solo demonstrations.) I know if I were called to demonstrate my posture on the ground, people would notice my hips being swayed forward and all of the tension that I carry in my shoulders. It took laying on the ground and really concentrating on every inch of my body to really realize the extent of my body’s misalignment. But now that I am conscious of it I take more care into fixing it.

  6. I really enjoyed working at getting my breathing more involved with my movement this week. Or at least becoming more aware and conscious of how each inhale and exhale affected the way each movement felt. Concentrating more on my breathing really allowed me to sink into my dancing both physically and mentally, which is a sensation I’ve been chasing since my last modern dance class with Cid. I found the Bartenieff method to be very scientific, which I enjoyed. It’s very straight-forward about what your body should be doing, yet it’s different for each person/body. It seems to be a healthy and helpful way to explore and expand movement, rather than pushing and straining to try and achieve an aesthetic effect that probably won’t stick.

  7. Although I have danced a few different styles for some odd years, I realize that I have never really taken the time to understand and know how my body works when I am dancing. Learning about Bartenieff Fundamentals this past week has helped me recognize the alignment of my body and the natural bend and rotation of my joints can create a flow of movement without straining my self. I also found it interesting how easily I could connect our lessons in Bartenieff Fundamentals with the Aikido class I am taking. Part of the choreography we learned was almost exactly like how my sensei was teaching the class about rolling and falling.

  8. Since I have focused on forms of dance like ballet in the past, I am really appreciating learning about the Bartenieff Fundamentals because it is a way to warm up and train my body that feels healthy! I am beginning to realized that I can learn about how my body moves without doing strenuous exercises that have often caused me to injure myself. After our class in the morning I feel more connected and aware of my body for the rest of the day. My favorite part is the rocking preparation, which helps me feel energy flowing all along my body and how every part of myself affects every other part when it moves. In the next week I plan to focus on the details and small movements to lean more about how I dance.

  9. What I really liked about this movement is that it really does feel natural to me, because I can let my body just follow the flow of gravity and transfer the weight to the opposite side without it feel constricting. This also allowed me to understand how heavy each side of my body feels. For example, I feel that my left side is a lot lighter than my right, thus allowing me to move it more freely, even though I do have a broken and fractured forearm! While my right side, my dominant side, feels heavier and I need to focus a bit more on how to move it without it feeling like it is tight.

  10. I really love this stuff! The slow and specific movements give me acute awareness of how I move my body. This experience brings me into my body and is a great way to start the day.

  11. Using the Bartineff technique has helped release tension from certain parts of my body and it has helped me notice the areas I need to work on. It is definitely a great way to start off the day.

  12. I honestly did not know that my body could relax the way it did. Hearing Mr. Cassel giving instructions on how to move my body, especially how to make it relax felt like he was talking to every muscle of my body to achieve maximum relaxation! It is in deed a great way to start my day!!

  13. As the quarter’s been progressing, I’ve noticed that while we are raising the level of difficulty in our routines, the same fundamental principles we learned in Week 1 still apply. The Bartineff technique has also really helped me notice areas of tension I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise. The fact that we use this breathing in each routine really allows every class to be put into a simple, yet effective way to put it all into perspective.

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