Weight is power

I was teaching class two nights ago, working on assembles on pointe. These are actually much harder than they appear, as all the power for the releve must come from the one standing leg with the added challenge of an extended gesture leg, front, side, or back, where dancers often place some weight. The assembles weren’t happening, and when I asked the dancers what they were thinking of, they all dutifully talked about abs and glutes and arms, but not one asked herself “where is my weight really, and where am I taking it?”

This is the fundamental question. Where is our weight? Where are we standing?And where are we going with it? Because where our weight is, our power is. After years of being trained to think about my body as a collection of unruly parts that had to be brow-beaten into acting like a whole, I’ve now made a complete about-face. The only useful thing is awareness of the space you are occupying and the space you wish to displace as you move. In this assemble en pointe, for example, the body is displacing vertically – so not only must the hips ascend to point, but the entire body must ascend. Though I’m stating the obvious, it is amazing to observe ballet dancers trained in not moving the hips laterally while the legs work, translate that into a horizontal and vertical immobility while traveling on the dance floor.

Pique is another instance where dancers are going from plie on one leg (down) to stepping up and over onto the other leg (across/up) and they frequently do not take into account a complete space displacement on both vertical and horizontal plains. As a teacher, I have talked about plie and pushing and stepping onto a straight knee, and all those little details that we want to happen. But what I’ve realized is that those never happen until changing weight through vertical/horizontal  space is taken into account.

So where our weight is, there is our power. And where we are going in three-dimensional space is how that power is directed.

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