Irene Dowd’s ‘Orbits’

This week I will continue on with ‘Spirals’  from Thursday’s lesson. Additionally, we will explore the anatomy of the hip sockets by studying material from 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.

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


17 thoughts on “Irene Dowd’s ‘Orbits’

  1. I was very happy to have been able to move up off of the floor and do some more standing exercises this week. My balance is still very off key in class. I think it has something to do with my connection to my center and my placement of the hips, or it could be uneven footing. I realize the importance of practicing foot placement in class now to make better contact with the ground below. Different movements come with different footworks, so I need to work on placing my feet in the right position to counter balance my hips. I also have a habit of moving my torso slightly forward when I move my legs. It’s something that I am trying to avoid, but it always seems to resurface.

  2. Spirals has allowed me to find my center of gravity which mostly comes from the core. However, I have noticed that I have very very stiff ankles(from past injuries) which inhibits my mobility at times. During some of the standing sequences in class I sometimes have a hard time balancing during something as simple as a plie. My ankles naturally come off the ground with just the slightest knee bend. I’ve noted that this is a flexibility issue and hope that I can rework my ankles and calves. I know that as soon as I am able to fix this, my balancing skills will be a lot stronger.

  3. Practicing standing routines in class, I learned that it is hard for me to keep balance when I am solely relying on one leg for support. It’s a struggle to stay standing when I have one leg pointed out in front of me, then have to rotate it so that it’s behind me. I also noticed that this task is even harder when I go at a slower pace but I don’t understanding how the speed at which I’m going influences my stability. I understand that I can use my upper body to counter balance and stay upright but that is sill something that I need to practice. I really liked the exercise we did in class where we were asked to stand upright with our eyes closed. I noticed the slight, inevitable shifting and rotating that my body does when I’m just standing. Throughout the entire exercise, I was trying hard to stop that shifting but it was impossible. Afterward, we discussed it as a class and I really enjoyed learning that the slight shifting is our body compromising with gravity. That explanation gives me a better understanding of how we work with gravity and how our bodies are very unstable.

  4. The combos we do on the floor are becoming so familiar to me that I can really be in the zone and in my body when I do them. The jump rope movement on all fours was very hard for me in the beginning but now I really enjoy that part of warming up. The more complicated standing combinations have been so fun and challenging. The figure eights with out hips was very therapeutic to my hips also. Fun week.

  5. As the weeks progress I am finding working in parallel feels less alien. I am able to position my feet in line with my sits bones with less thought; muscle memory is kicking in. I am very interested in turning and enjoyed the attention paid to it Thursday. I am curious why people as a majority have one side that is better than the other to turn. Whatever side that may be for me seems to change on a daily, if not hourly basis. When working in class, I was able to turn with relative ease on my left side, but could barely hop out a single on my right. That same night I was in A105 for rehearsal and was going through the turning sequence again. This time I could not turn left very well, and yet miraculously did a double on my right. I want to learn to spot better. I started dancing later in life. In attempting to play ‘catch-up’ to other dancers my age, the basic technical practice of spotting was never taught to me. It was just something I was expected to know.

  6. This week I really learned that my brain can be a serious problem. I find that I think about the movement too much it causes my body to freeze up. I’m fairly certain that if I turned off my analytical thoughts for a moment, my body would move with much more ease. This in turn would make my body feel more loose and capable to transitioning quickly from one dance move to the other (like the dance we did at the end of class Thursday). There really is something to be said for trusting your body and accessing one’s muscle memory. I used to be quite adept at this, but for many a reason I will not go into, I stopped trusting my body some time ago. This has greatly affected my movements and relationship with my body. Through the help of this class, I want to learn to trust my body again and stop worrying so much about how my body looks and focus more on how it feels instead.

    • I have the same problem as you Shay! Throughout class i find myself in my own little world where im over analyzing everything. I feel as if that defeats the purpose of class. I’m still in the process of letting myself go. I want my dancing to express more then steps.This week’s objective is being able to let go. With that said, i also want to mention how as the quarter progresses, i have noticed that my left side of the body does not like to cooperate. I was able to strictly point this out when we do spiral work with our hips. My right side seems to be fine however, it is my left that gives me harder time.

  7. This week in class, my focus was on my neck. During one of our exercises, I was not releasing my head completely and I realize that I do this sometimes because I think it looks better. Once I felt what it was like to release my head when I was dancing, it felt better. I will think less about what I think “looks good” and focus more on what feels good next week of dance.

  8. Last week’s class was more challenging than dance has ever been for me before. I am taking a foreign language class currently and as I am learning the language so much later in life I am realizing how difficult it is for adults to learn a language in comparison to children. DANCE IS A LANGUAGE. This was my big epiphany that crept up while I was hating being old learning Portuguese. I couldn’t stop thinking about how true it is that dance is really just that-a second language. I was lucky to learn ballet as a kid, for it was second nature to me and I didn’t have to think about it-I just did it. But here I am, ten years after giving it up and realizing how difficult it is to get it back. The things we are doing in class are very complex and it is so amazing to push ourselves past the normal way of doing things. I am having epiphany’s often in class and so I thank you greatly for that Gerald. Irene Dowd continues to amaze me as well. I love this video! I want to learn that dance! I think we should 🙂

  9. Spirals in our standing combinations are quite engaging and entertaining for me to focus on. There are spirals forming everywhere plies, tondues, lame ducks. I love getting to work on our eternal rotators because keeping the hips even, turning out, and turning in are all concepts which I have been working on since I actually began to understand the concepts my ballet teachers tried to drill into my brain in elementary school. One of my favorite combinations we work on is where we engage our external rotators turning in and turning out during our ran de jambe. The spirals we create with our whole body while stretching our arms and legs in a counter stretch is my favorite, then boop! We turn the opposite direction in passe and continue to find the spirals within our body. So far, this course has engaged me in ways which I am excited for. I am very happy to see that I can take more from a class which I already have a basic understanding of.

  10. There are bones in my body that I did not realize could operate individually of the whole. For example, the pelvis is something that I have observed more in my movement as I am now aware of where it is positioned in the Sagital alignment and if it is turned when it should not be just based on standard comfort. This has been a challenge, however, since I am aware of it I can start making small adjustments to find where I should be placing my weight and balance. This is similar to a problem I had with my lower back during the beginning of the class where I would want to constantly arch it while lying down. It took mental effort to correct this positioning but is steadily making progress. My body may be misaligned to protect my right knee which is healing from an injury and compensating for the pain. Regardless, to seriously practice technique I am a firm believer of small steps to cover large distances.

    My favorite piece we have been practicing is the quick stepped movement Gerald choreographed with film students. It is quite simple but fun to move through and I feel the most coordinated during it.

  11. At this point in the class, I’m able to pick up a sequence a bit faster, which is great. The sequence that Gerald made with his film students was really overwhelming at first. I got confused with the speed and the three counts at the very end made my mind go, ‘what?’ – but, by the time the midterm rolled around, I was confident that I had picked it up. In an earlier post I mentioned that I would try and match the dance steps with counts – and I feel that in the sequence mentioned above I was really able to understand the sequence through counts! So awesome.

    The sequence that has been hardest for me is the (and I might completely butcher this one) tondouts. That sequence is so difficult for me! I’m still working on turning my arm out, in, and out again- while also rotating out and in my leg. (hopefully that made sense). I always turn my arm in – lift – and turn out as i reach my elbow to my opposing knee. Another thing that is really hard for my body to feel comfortable doing is, after the lunge, turning my knee in as the ‘heavy earring weighs my head down’. There is something about that step – I feel uncomfortable.. i always switch my weight to the other leg. With some help from classmates, I’ve finally been able to keep my weight on the bent leg – but it still feels so awkward.

    Last week was really focused on reviewing for the final – which I thought went really well. Who cares if I missed a count here and there – the little amount of pressure (just the simple word ‘midterm’) helped me to stay extra focused and I really think I showed myself how much I’ve improved. I was completely stunned, actually – to be able to follow a sequence by listening to Gerald’s words/vocabulary and by trusting my body and knowledge of the sequences.

  12. Orbits has been extremely interesting in class, especially as we transition from spirals because although it has a different feel, I understand why we are learning these movements in this particular order. Personally, I feel like orbits has a sense of yoga to it because of the stretching moments and the equilibrium required to maintain balance as dance proceeds and we continue to transform our body to these particular moves.

  13. I found this class to be really enjoyable. My hips are one of the areas where I am the most flexible and aware of movement, so for once it felt like I was keeping up with the rest of the class. This week also showed me how tense my neck is most of the time. I found that the tenseness would start there and then spread to the rest of my body until I couldn’t do any of te moves properly. I found it helpful to completely tense myself and then focus on letting go of it all at once.

  14. I was actually having some issues with the dances this week. I learned I really need to work on control in my body, being in the moment and being in myself even in stillness. I have always have this issue, and this week I just found myself off balance, which was irritating to me. I enjoy the concept of orbits, but actually executing them was a struggle. I did really enjoy the spine work though, when we were doing the jump roping and the snake and fish movements, those felt really good. The dances we had to maintain that stillness while maintaining opposing internal and external rotation, I had some issues. Especially the planes parts, I felt very ‘off’, but I believe it was something that over the quarter I was able to develop. Initially learning those routines challenged the way I move and the way my mind and body want to move, but as I was able to practice them more and we went over them, it become more comfortable to me.
    Though I, like most others, really did enjoy the choreography that Gerald made with his film students, it was fast and always moving forward, which allowed almost no time to think about the moves, but rather just do them. It was also a nice relief after the tough work with orbits.

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