The Feldenkrais Method and Dance

Excerpted from: The Somatics Infusion

Dance  Magazine: May 2012

The Feldenkrais Method and DanceExcerpted from: The Somatics Infusion
By Nancy Wozny

More teachers are blending awareness principles with technique.

Somatics is a fluid movement science. It’s in a constant state of growth and assimilation into the dance field, whether it’s used as fuel for improvisation or as principles of awareness in dance training. Integrating somatics into the technique class can take many forms, from a shift in language cues to using more novel routes to discovery.

A dance class needs to keep moving, so the somatics’ super-slow pace with frequent rests can be at odds with the structure of most classes. But there’s no need to get the mat out, since there are plenty of body/mind ideas that work well without inducing a soma coma.

Somatic practitioners specialize in asking questions. It’s a trial-and-error process to infuse dance class with the soma savvy it takes to keep dancers moving with their whole selves. Dance Magazine spoke with two Alexander Technique and three Feldenkrais Method practitioners, all of whom teach technique in addition to their regular Feldenkrais and Alexander classes…

Feldenkrais Doesn’t Have to Put You to Sleep

Barnard faculty member Tessa Chandler finds that working with the eyes has a huge impact on her students’ dancing. Moshe Feldenkrais created many powerful lessons dealing with how our eyes govern our movement. “Rolling down the spine as if you were looking down your front can elicit new movement in the spine,” says Chandler, formerly of Royal Danish Ballet and Dutch National Ballet. “Going across the floor while seeing into the distance completely changes how we cover space.”

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The Feldenkrais Method & Dance

The Feldenkrais Method and Dance

When I was considering applying to a Feldenkrais Professional Training Program® — most of my experience and exposure to the work was via Moshe Feldenkrais books, a bit of Awareness Through Movement, and the many testimonials of my friends who were studying dance & theater. For me it was a sigh of relief that I could pursue a study that allowed me to dwell in my obsessions with neuroscience, kinesiology, and psychology all while surrounding myself with creative souls.

Above you have an opportunity to view an elegant and beautiful video on how Feldenkrais Practitioner,  Amy Shulman, integrates the teachings of The Feldenkrais Method and Dance.

“I really believe that in teaching, it is important to empower the student to be able to use more of themselves. I see the dancers really moving…. a sense that they are really dancing the movement and not executing a form.” -Ami Shulman

Ryokan Poem

{Poem} First Days of Spring, by Ryokan

A lovely spring poem by the Zen monk Ryokan to remind us that the essence of a child is alive within us and that joy is always right here, right now…


From the Book
Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems by Ryokan

First days of spring—blue sky, bright sun.
Everything is gradually becoming fresh and green.
Carrying my bowl, I walk slowly to the village.

The children, surprised to see me,
joyfully crowd about, bringing
my begging trip to an end at the temple gate.

I place my bowl on top of a white rock and
hang my sack from the branch of a tree.

Here we play with the wild grasses and throw a ball.
For a time, I play catch while the children sing;

Then it is my turn.

Playing like this, here and there, I have forgotten time.
Passers-by point and laugh at me, asking,
“What is the reason for such foolishness?”

No answer I give, only a deep bow;
Even if I replied, they would not understand.

Look around! There is nothing but this.

-Ryokan

Scarlets birth story

{Birth Video Share} Scarlet’s Birth

One thing that continues to inspire me about pretty much all of these birth stories shared here is that the father is often involved with the whole labor and birth process in such a tender and delightful way. Scarlet’s Birth is no exception. There is something so magical about seeing a couple, a family really— as the infant is very much involved in the birth process, move together through this amazing life transition.

Feldenkrais Tweet  My own method of coping with the waves came from deep within, something not practiced in class and something that I can only describe as primal. -Valerie Larenne, Adventures in Natural Childbirth

Josh Shreiber Feldenkrais Practitioner

The Road to Effortless Musical Mastery

We musicians tend to think of making music as inherently strenuous. That the way to musical mastery is paved by hard work.

We train through countless hours of solitary practice. We drive ourselves to do better, never accepting ‘good enough.’ We know we should be relaxed as we play or sing, but our tight shoulders, sore necks and tired backs tell a different story, even if our fingers or lips seem as nimble as can be. Like athletes, we drive our bodies to the limits of our ability, to do essentially unnatural things (I remember when it hit me that we did not evolve to play the viola da gamba. Our instruments evolved to produce a certain aesthetic ideal, not to be ergonomic).

We hold our breath and grimace with the emotion of the music we are expressing, because otherwise, why bother? How can I express sorrow or suffering if I don’t feel it myself?

And we accept that this is just the way it is. No pain, no gain. It’s a sacrifice we make for our art. Gotta make a living….

But is this really true?

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Home Birth Video

{Birth Video Share} A Birth Film by Kalimana

This short and touching Birth Film by Kalimana is  such a wonderful display of how the whole family can nurture and support the mother. One thing I bit about this Birth Video that I really enjoyed, was how comfortable the daughters were with the whole process.  What a wonderful way to subtly shift the world, allowing birth to be a natural part of being a family. Simply Beautiful!

Feldenkrais Tweet  Babies are born by women, not delivered by doctors. – Valerie Larenne’s Birth Story, Adventures in Natural Childbirth