The effects of Dance Imagery and its contribution towards healthy body alignment and positive development in dance. This essay will discuss how to focus on keeping ideal alignment by using Dance Imagery in the process of personal development throughout technique and independent rehearsals. (Ashley. 2005) “alignment is good posture, achieved by holding sections of the body in line with one another and using minimal muscular work”. Body alignment is about how your head, shoulder, spine, hips, knees and ankles all affect and line up with one another. This can mecanically aid the body to be positioned in the most effiecent way.
Dance imagery is a method that dancers, or anybody practicing dance would use to improve their alignment and performance overall. There are many types of imagery used during dance, Franklin (1996) suggests that these can be described as the following; • Spontaneous and Programmed Imagery. “Spontaneous imagery originates from the person imagining in the sense that the person is the creator of the image, which may arise seemingly with no reason” “Programmed imagery is imagery that is learned from an outside source such as a teacher, a book, or a recording. Anatomical Imagery, “when using anaomical imagery, you imagine the structure and design of your body or movement. ” • Biomechanical Imagery “Biomechanical imagery involves precise imagery of the movement and forces occuring within your body. ” · Physiological Imagery “Physiolocial imagery revolves around the chemicals, hormones, and fluids of your body. ” • A popular one amongst all is metaphorical imagery. “In dance, you can use metaphors to create a certain quality of movement and improve technique. ” (Franklin, 1996:28-31)
Mental imagery is the general abiltity of representing different types of images, even when the original stimulus is out of sight, it is perception in the absesnse of an external causing agen” (Franklin. 1996:3). Imagery had a long history of use and application long before science confirmed its validity. The orgins and sources of imagery are many: atleast six can be found, including memory sytstems spiritual and religious practices, healing and shamanic practices psychotherapy, sports, and dance. (Franklin. 1996). “Visual thinking was a truly revolutionary development that pervaded all areas of human cultural evolution” (Franklin. 012). Dance imagery is used to help ones body alignment, and improve ones awareness of the placement of the body. When in good alignment, less energy is used whilst performing or practicing dance, which leads to having a better balance and more energetic performance overall.
Dynmaic alignment requires needing an awareness of anatomy, the locality and status of the joints, the tensions states of the muscles and organs in the body, the numerous connections between the muscles, bones, and organs, the shapes and inner volumes within you, to give the mind a broad supply of options for improving and adjusting alignment. Franklin, 2012). Imagery to help improve alignment Imagery that leads to better alignment; this is often done through a series of imagery steps that lead to a final whole-body image of better alignment. It can also be done through imagining biomechanical relationships such as the bone rhythms. Imagery to enhance expressivity Expressive imagery involves the embodiment of a certain theatrical character, movement metaphor, or musical quality. Imagery to solve problems Using imagery to help you with a question you want to answer without any outside help or when no help is available.
Motor-specific imagery to improve coordination efficiency for specific movement (cognitive specific imagery) You are mentally rehearsing, mentally stimulating a specific type of dance, exercise, or athletic movement with the aim of improving your performance. This table explains that with the use of imagery, it can improve alignment overall, enhance expressivity; use imagery to solve problems in situations where no physical help is available, and improve coordination in specific phrases.
With the constant use of dance imagery whilst rehearsing, this will hopefully help the process of improving ideal alignment in parts of choreographies that need the most attention paying too. Table taken from: (Franklin. 2013) The Alexander concept of “saying no” to habitual mental and physical reactions, is very relevant to imagery work as well” (Franklin. 1996: P10). When conducting research into “The Alexander Technique” it was found that in order to use an image successfully, you first need to clear your mind.
Which will eventually allow you to become selective about how you perform a movement. Choosing the most efficient of the many movement patterns offered. The correct pattern can only be found in a peaceful state, a state in which once found, impulsive movement patterns can be ignored, overridden, or “inhibited” (Franklin. 1996). When applied, this had proven to be a proper guidance to go off of, as independent rehearsals were entirely independent. In the technique part of classes, noticing how the placement of the body is stacked is useful when falling out of balance.
Allowing the mind to consciously reflect on how the movement should be done, most of the time helps to recognize a possible missing step in the phrase. When noticed and corrected, aids the muscle memory the correct way to place the pelvis or leg etc. “a good knowledge of muscle function is necessary for improving balance with such exercises. ” (Franklin. 2012). These rehearsals give me the opportunity to see a difference in posture and balance, which are both linked to body alignment.
As (Franklin. 2012) points out, “alignment emphasizes the aspect of posture that is concerned with the geometric and biomechanical relationships of parts of the body”. “Skillful use of imagery while moving can give instant feedback about your current alignment, why you have difficulty achieving a movement goal, and which specific image most helps you to correct a problem” (Franklin. 1996:88). “Direct imagery is a realistic representation of your body in motion” (Franklin. 1996:25).
In the process of exploring how ones posture can be improved, imagery such as the following had an impact on how the weight of the body was made lighter During contact improvisation sessions, effective beneficial advice when performing has been, when being lifted by a partner to think up when in suspension, almost as if ‘the sky is the limit’, as this will make your body weight lighter to your partner because you are helping them when giving your weight, whilst also achieving more momentum in the lifts.
Once in touch with ones weight, the supporting leg will feel more stable. Balancing becomes easier, the joints are freer, breath is ath is deeper and movement tends to become more connected and fluid within the performance. (Franklin. 2013). One step closer to having better alignment was concentrating on how involved the pelvis and hip joint was when executing certain movements, and making sure that the source of specific problem that is limiting movement has been identified.
“The pelvis is made up of the sacrum and the right and left os coxae, hip bones” (Fitt. 993:53). The hip joint is made up of the head of the femur fitting into the acetabulum of the pelvis. In addition to the natural soundness provided by the ball-and-socket structure of the joint, the hip is further secured by a series of ligaments. (Fitt. 1993: 55). “Using imagery to not only correct alignment, but to improve body awareness, for example, as a dancer you must be able to sense the location of your hip joints” (Franklin. 2013:12).
“If your awareness is vageuee or incorrect you cannot find move with precission from your hip joint” (Franklin. 013:12) “Your warm up should incorporate mental preparation and should use imagery to help improve your alignment and coordination for quicker results. Mind body attunement will additionally allow one to notice changes in alignment and muscle tension from one day to the next. ” (Franklin. 1996). Whilst researching into how to achieve ideal posture and during the independent rehearsals, subtle changes in specific movements that were included in the warm up were observed and had noticeably improved after a period of repetition over the course of just two weeks.
With the use of repeated imagery, it helped to learn to remember steps. If you are good at imagery, you can watch a choreographer demonstrate a movement and immediately replay it in your minds eye before the next movement happens or even in a short break of the phrase (Franklin. 2013). Imagery to help me reach the full potential of my range of movement in these certain exercises was very effective and has become more than useful in the process of independent practices. My personal warm-up consisted of a few exercises such as: • Demi Plie in second • Battement Tendu • Rond De Jambe • Battement extension
PLIE: 96 When in plie in first, making sure the weight is evenly balanced on both feet and checking that my feet are directly under the center of the hip joints. When in plie in second, I would imagine that the surface area of my back was gliding down the back of a mattress to help keep in the correct upright position, whilst during the motion thinking down, which sends the weight of the body into the supporting weight of the feet. “Before initiating the actual bend (plie) of the knees, the force being sent through the back of the heel has to be such that the hamstring muscles moderately engage” (Lewton-Brian. 009:9) “Think of the heel bone acting like a ship leaving the port, slowly pulling back before starting the plie.
This mental imagery can produce, a slow, powerful yet microscopic sensation of movement. ” (Lewton-Brain. 2009:9) Battement Tendu: “tendus and jetes teach you how to deal with weight shifts onto one foot and leg. You learn how to get centered on your standing leg while maintaining over all alignment” (Franklin. 1996: 99). “Muscles regularly used in dance include the muscles that stabilize the pelvis and keep it level when the weight is on one leg” (Fitt. 1993: 154). The gluteus medius is one of the primary abductors of the hip. It is the prime mover in stabilizing the pelvis” (Fitt. 1993: 156).
A common problem when repeating tendus, would be that the gestured leg would lose balance because too much weight was being held on the standing leg, when in second. In order to gain a better alignment through the whole of the body, repeating tendus on each leg during warm ups, and making sure to not shift all of the weight onto the standing leg, but also giving and noticing when weight to the leg that was travelling forwards into a tendu was being applied and when it was not.
This repletion of observation helped to gain more muscle on each supported leg for an overall improved alignment and balance in the upper body whilst working through the feet. ROND DE JAMBE: To challenge my alignment further, and work the pelvis, the muscles of the leg and hips I would rond de jambe on each leg in the first position, front, side and back. (Franklin. 1996) Working through the feet, I try to isolate any movement from the femur and making sure to not initiate any over movement from the pelvis. Imagining that my pointed foot is a pencil, attempting to draw on the floor as the foot changes its directions in the rond de jambe.
BATTEMENT EXTENSION: “A”good” extension in classical ballet is above shoulder level in second position” (Franklin. 1996:107). Using this as a goal during warm ups in independent rehearsals, at first, a common occurrence was maintaining my balance when in second on the standing leg when the gestured leg reached a certain point. Noticing what the hip flexors were doing at this point was crucial, as the problem was that they were not horizontal. An image that encouraged the gesture leg to go higher “imagine the foot of your gesture leg to be a paintbrush, as your turn, create a perfectly centered blot of paint on an imaginary canvas” (Franklin. 013:203).
To conclude, having a better understanding of what dance imagery is, what it is used for, the correct way of applying it, its history, how it became noticed, and most importantly how it can improves ones posture and performance overall, has helped the process of personal development. Through the use of literature it has revealed that dance imagery contributes towards an ideal body alignment and positive development in dance overall. Knowing the different bodily mechanics that aid the body to be positioned in the most efficient way can help ones performance.