Bartenieff Fundamentals / Patterns of Connectivity

This week 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, if this incites curiosity for you, I would recommend reading Peggy Hackney’s book, Making Connections (Ch. 4-5).

On Thursday, class will be taught by one of my dancers/colleagues, Christina Briggs-Winslow. She is a wonderful teacher and will bring lots of useful information to our class. Enjoy!


19 thoughts on “Bartenieff Fundamentals / Patterns of Connectivity

  1. I enjoyed Martha demonstrations because she showed the right technique and also the possibility of the wrong way of placing your hips, which I was doing initially and causing discomfort in my hip and knee but now as I corrected my movement, the tension in my knees and hip are reduce and allows for more flexibility.

  2. -Lacking knowledge in the body, both scientific and physical
    -Cannot locate all of my parts yet
    -Loss of balance
    -Loss of center
    -Still haven’t fallen over though
    -Inability to trust my own body
    -Must know the dance
    -Unable to work mind and body at once
    -Need to get out of my head
    -Don’t want to leave it behind
    -Can’t trust the body to do the dance by itself
    -Must have memory in memory instead of muscle
    -Unable to isolate the spine
    -Cannot establish a sense of spatial relationship with my limbs
    -Good thing we have a mirror
    -Thinking about how it looks
    -Not as much about how it feels

    This is a much simpler format; glad I gave it a try.

  3. The subtle isolations have helped me to understand my body a lot more. The Bartenieff isolations are helping me to understand my habits. The bad habits are slowly fading as well. I observe this not only in other dance classes but in my every day activity. I have learned to focus on the subtleties instead of the entire movement. I notice I have different strengths and weaknesses each day. I have been working on letting go of my neck this week and hope to continue to work on letting go in all other areas.

  4. In reading a bit about the history Irmgard Bartenieff, Something that I found interesting was the way that you actively used her dance and movement skills as a tool for social healing and rehabilitation, in particular her work with polio children. her efforts to engage patients, especially young patients, with their treatment is a really cool thing. Polio could be such a radically destabilizing illness I can definitely see how getting a child to engage with what must seem like, to them, a pretty useless endeavor, but Barteneiff, through a pretty profound understanding of how we learn at various stages and various ways, is able to pull out these elemental movements for all people. Not only are these movements fundamental, but they are also incredibly malleable and adaptable to every person’s body and degree of ability.

    Turning a little more personal. I’m loving class. I can definitely feel a difference between flowing through the body halves and am starting to really feel the mechanics of my body beginning to adjust and adapt to that.

  5. This week in class I discovered that I have a harder time learning routines standing up than I do learning floor work. I think that it’s because when I’m on the floor a larger portion of my body can a rely on gravity to use its forces on me whereas when I’m standing I must put more effort on my body to execute movements. For me to be able to remember routines when standing it takes more repetition and review for my muscle memory to kick in and take over. I also found that I have trouble doing turns with my bare feet against the floor. I watched Christina Briggs-Winslow do her turns as she demonstrated and they looked so graceful when she did them. They looked like the friction between her feet and the floor weren’t an obstacle for her and as if her body was a spiral. I hope to improve my turning skills by learning how to effectively push off of the floor to gain the momentum needed.

  6. I was really able to identify with some of the things that Christina said in class today. She pointed out to us that if we didn’t know the next step in a dance sequence, to keep connectivity with the body by dancing (even if it wasn’t the right step). The drum beat really helped me maintain connection throughout my entire body, and even when I was unsure of what was coming next I let my body use the rhythm to guide me and it became easier to find the pattern of movement. During the times when I did break connectivity because I was thinking too hard of what I was doing, it was so much harder to get back into the sequence.

  7. Head tail connectivity is a concept dance teachers have always pointed to as something I could work towards improving. Christina Briggs-Winslow’s exercise in which partners crawled crown of head to crown of head both cross laterally and using body halves was incredibly helpful in establishing a sense memory of the head tail connection. Crawling is initiated from movement of the head as opposed to hands or feet. I retained the idea of an ‘acro-yoga buddy’ doing a hand stand on my head when movement transitioned from lying down to standing. I also found Christina’s emphasis on breath as its own movement an incredible idea I often gloss over. In warm-ups the act of breathing in was given a count all its own. When reading the brief summary of Bartenieff Frundamentals: Basic 6, I was particularly interested in the breath preparation exercise. I was enthused when singing and dancing were introduced to class during week 1 as I am a terribly self-conscious singer and had vowed that I would address that issue this year. I would like to do the mentioned breath preparation in class. Christina connected head tail connectivity and voice, reminding dancers that even if a body is not perfectly erect, head tail connectivity must be present to sing and speak. Christina gave the image of a rapper who maintains a bend in their knees without crunching their neck, a relaxed body still capable of singing. Singing and breath create rhythm and if one knows the heart beat of a dance, mastery of the sequence will eventually come.

  8. It is difficult to allow the body to take over our minds. I know this and have known this, but it became even more apparent this week. I was having such a difficult time allowing my body to do what was natural because of what I have been taught and what my body has not been taught yet. When we were doing circles on the ground I could allow myself to flow through the movement and found myself stuck! Once I realized how I was becoming stuck- thank you Gerald-movement became a relaxation exercise rather than a forceful movement exercise. Why was that so hard?! Retraining the body is such a hard thing to do for such a simple and most helpful movement. I loved how it felt once I reached the epiphany within myself and my body followed through. I felt far more beautiful in that movement than the one I was forcing before. Watching the video and reading about the B.F. was helpful, but not as much as it was to do it live and experience such a transformation in the moment. Dance is the search of struggling through the body and mind and it is constantly searching for answers. -Cara

  9. I forgot to say how important it is for good music! Having music that moves you in makes moving so much easier and allows you to let go and be right there in the moment. Tuesday’s class was amazing. Can we keep him? I loved that. I have found that without music that you love, keeping the beat of you’re own self, the music and the dance is near impossible if you don’t enjoy what you are listening to. I am regretful that I have forgotten his name, but he made moving feel easy,

  10. I’m still struggling with disengaging my mind from worrying about how it looks vs. how it feels. While this is a mental roadblock I’m just going to have to keep working through, I wish there was an easy way for me to just shut my brain off and stop noticing or worrying when I don’t look as “polished” as others in class.
    Apart from this, I injured my back this week by putting on a towel after I was done showering…no idea where that came from. But I spoke with Christina about it and she thought it was probably a physical manifestation of (yet again) my mental state. I honestly think she’s right, and it made me think of when Gerald spoke on the first day about how our outward apprentice often reflects out inward state of being. The constant stress I’ve been under in the past few weeks is a proper culprit for my back pain, and actually, after dancing in class, it felt much, much better! So over the next few weeks, I really want to try and focus on relaxing my mind, both to stop worrying about not looking as beautiful as my fellow dancers, but to not let the day-to-day stresses of life and university overcome me so much that it creates such an obvious and painful physical manifestation.

  11. It was an interesting revelation that came to me in class this past week that I’ve spent a long time ignoring and hiding my mind away from my body. I was laying on the floor and experienced an odd sensation when I let my mind check in with every part of my body that I was tensing or was making contact with the floor. It made me realize how much I have still yet to discover about my body. I myself am a very cerebral person and my body is normally treated as a tool, when in actuality I should be regarding it as an instrument. Body halves as well have opened up an off non-linear approach to movement. It is not often in the normal every day we move with our body in halves. It’s uncomfortable but satisfying to accomplish. Working with Christina Thursday we were asked to crawl like a baby would discovering their movement. It made me feel embarrassed when I moved until I found the rhythm in the motion. The music provided by Mike helped in finding that step.

  12. During Christina’s class, I struggled with crawling while connecting between my head and tail. In the exercise where we partnered up to explore the connection, my back would invert. I found this interesting because it was something I didn’t notice until Christina pointed it out and then it was so apparent what I was doing and it had me wondering if I feel a strain sometimes when I dance because this connection isn’t there. “Letting go” is the idea I circled back to and I think there is a certain release that needs to be happen in order for the connection to be made.

  13. I really enjoyed Christina’s class last week. At first she made it so that the front of the classroom was facing away from the mirror, which I really found helped me to think less about how I looked and more about how things felt. I’ve been realizing that when I’m asked to make certain movements, I really bend into them, where, maybe, such an intense bend or movement doesn’t need to be so.. intense? I don’t really know how to explain it, but in addition to the class last Tuesday, I’m feeling as if I’m beginning to understand the importance of subtlety. I’m finding that I don’t need to make such huge, dramatic movements, but simply move with control and relaxation.

    At this point, I’m really focusing on just letting go and having counter-balance become natural. When we moved across the floor on Thursday, I was struggling with which arm to counter balance with which leg I was moving, which was interesting because it relates to the same-plain/opposite-plain crawling we did. My confusion made me wonder if, maybe, some people prefer to put their right arm in the air when their right leg kicks up oppose to their left arm going up when their left leg kicks up.

    There is so much to talk about! I also found that I’m a little attached to theoretical detail. I kept asking Christina if she would explain exactly where my limbs go during certain movements and she responded that I should just move and I didn’t have to really worry too much about it.. just move. – and that scared me! It scared me in a good way, of course ;).. but, anyways, it made me realized how attached I am to instruction and the idea of being ‘perfect’.

    This class has been so wonderful so far. I’m loving it!

  14. Prior to taking the class, i was not aware of how essential it is to have connectivity between head and tail. I would simply move with the “flow,” not really making a connection. By doing so i have come to a conclusion that because i wasnt aware of my conductivities, that my body was all over the place. After taking the class, i was well aware of my center and my conductivities. I try to imply them in my daily routines.

  15. I accidentally skipped this Blog. I really enjoyed Christina’s class she left me with an open mind on how my body could move, and how uncoordinated I can be. I struggled with on the floor crawling my hand and foot would struggle when both of them had to move at the same time. When i was walking on opposing hands and feet the movement came natural to me. Also, this class was very going at a very fast tempo when we learned the movement we would work on speeding it up. Overall I really enjoyed this class and I learned a lot more than expected.

  16. Since being here in Santa Cruz I have learned so much about patterns of connectivity. However, it’s incredible how much I am still learning or how often I forget my to connect my body while I am dancing. Often, Gerald’s voice is what brings me back to my connective body and I am trying to get past needing a constant reminder to engage from my core to my distal ends. Christina’s class was very interesting for me for several reasons, a large reason being that she had us go through Bartenieff steps which I had not done before. It was a very simple switch from moving your body one way to another, and it allowed me to see how their are so many variations of core distal, body half, etc. Every body is different so that even a set pattern of Bartenieff Fundamentals can change with each person.

  17. These might still be my favorite exercises even though we have been working on them for weeks now. I feel that being on the ground gives you a change to worry less about things you might worry about while standing (locked knees, standing posture, head position, etc.) and allows you to give in to gravity and to let the floor solve some of those problems for you while focus on the connectivity of movement in your upper and lower body.

  18. My last comment appears to have been deleted, so here it is again. I found that the boniness of my hips made this excercize very difficult. I found that when I put weight on my side the pressure on the bones made it very painful. One way of avoiding this was try to distribute the weight across my back more evenly so that there were no pressure points where too much weight was put on one area.

  19. I really enjoyed Christina’s class! I have always had issues with my hips and knees when bending over to touch the floor, and I always found myself in alot of pain. I often would get irritated at myself for not being able to do this seemingly simple task. Christina must have noticed my frustrations, because she came to me during on the routines, stopped the class, and pushed my hips so that they were over my bones. This subtle, but necessary adjustment, instantly made it no longer painful to simple bend over.
    I realized afterwards that this inability to bend came not only from the placement of my hips, but also the disconnection of my head and tale. I was so focused on trying to do whatever everyone was doing and trying to push myself to do this task, I was unable to just let go and let my body connect. I find this concept interesting, because the idea of mind/body connection seems so difficult, but it is honestly just letting your body move the way it naturally wants to, which is cool and almost freeing in a sense!

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