Ballroomology℠ “The Art of Moving Meditation”

Heart Chakra

Heart Chakra

Again after researching and being on my quest for the meaning of life after Ballroom Dance I have finally come up with the tag line of which I feel finally describes how I feel about the world and the Art of Ballroom Dance. And what must be taught so we can contribute back to humanity through this venue.

I have been on a year long hiatus from life due to the sickness of a very dear friend who I finally laid to rest on October 3, this past year. I was his friend and caretaker. I was with him last December 2011 when he announced to me he had a “pancreatic” condition and was by his side for his final breath on October 2, 2012. This experience has altered my reality totally. Of course I have experienced the passing of too many animals, friends and relatives. But I have not been with them every single second of the transition. I can only describe this past year as having witnessed the crucifixion and the resurrection.

Which brings me back to the words the “art of moving meditation”. When you know that someone you are with may leave this earth at any minute you value every second with them and take nothing for granted. Be it walking to the diner for a meal, watching a favorite show, or just listening while they share their life review. I often wonder why I did not regard everyone in my life this way in the past. Perhaps that is my lesson this time around.

Every action and thought we shared in this past year was literally a “meditation”. We had our ups and downs but deep down we both knew this was it. I know we both tried to be as caring to each other at all times. If I had to help him up or down, give him an injection or medication, or just hold his hand I was so mindful of the type of touch he felt. I wanted him comfortable at all times no matter what. And I believe in my heart that I did accomplish this and that he was at peace when he passed. The most interesting thing  “Fritzi” shared with me was how he was now convinced that their was a God or something greater up there. Through out his whole ordeal he had NO pain. He was so grateful for that gift from the Divine.

So my goal from this point on is how do you help people to become aware of their actions to create the “art of moving mediation”. Ballroom dance is so important. It teaches people how to treat and be aware of one another. In partnering one must be aware of the others person comfort. If we do this the rest is happiness and joy. Or the state of mind where we are just being grateful for sharing the gift of dance. Art Imitates life or Life Imitates Art so we can go either way. But developing rehearsal and technical skills to be in the cloud, bubble or  a shared aura with your partner is the key. Being pure of heart with intent to do good. One can never go wrong.

Being so tuned into each others reality that we can align ourselves with each other’s energies and survive any storm or disaster be it hurricane Sandy or not placing in the final or not making the final at all. How you view, understand or touch each other should be sacred at all times on and off the floor. Finding joy in mistakes and turning them around to work for you. Creating memories that you can share as you grow and age is priority. And I assure you will age not matter how many Botox injections you receive.

This energy ripples to everyone you come into contact with. A community for the “Art of Moving Meditation” would be my goal. Practice all of your technique and footwork galore but in the end there is only love. Unconditional love which will guide you to make the correct decisions and behavior we all secretly want to be a part of. Experiencing joy and happiness in life and most importantly sharing it in dance. If one connects to their higher power or to the God of they’re understanding the spirituality and meaning of life finally has a priority. How you do that is up to you. But before your career and life are over this will be something to consider. There are the sleepwalkers that are stuck in their last title of yesteryear and possibly rule with fear and intimidation to a select few to either persuade them to take a lesson or coaching from them or hire them for your next competition. Or the dreaded they will”Not Mark You”. They are just cowards operating in extreme fear. I mean really what does that mean? You have put your life or your self worth or your values on someone or something like a number from a pen and from a person who possibly never experienced dancing or even made a final round.

How do you instill this state of mind into the up and coming generations? The youth I see in public and private or in studios or in competitions I have deep concern for them. They are our future. The time to teach them skills in “The Art of Moving Meditation” through unconditional love is now. Making the goal of winning means nothing. This is all so temporary. In the end we are all here on borrowed time. Why will people wait for a disaster to become a community and treat each other gently and with kindness? In my opinion they have no love for themselves of any kind. Being vulnerable is a very scary thing. Daring to have unconditional love for yourself,others and a connection with the God of you’re understanding will totally alter what is important in your life and what is not. Not having this open heart will keep you in fear and not allow you to become who you really are spiritually, emotionally, mentally and most importantly how you can help serve humanity through the “The Art of Moving Meditation” and Ballroom Dance.

Lastly I just want to address the word habits. Habits: A regular tendency or practice that is hard to give up. Think about it. Are your habits stopping you from becoming a fully operating functional human being in every area and aspect of your life? It’s easier to get drunk than to jog or exercise. Easier to walk past someone in need on the street and continue texting on your phone. Easier to walk away in dance rehearsal because your partner pissed you off last competition. One must refresh their motivation daily. It is not easy but this is a criteria to carry on as a human being and of course a Ballroom Dancer.

In closing would like to quote Buddha. I think he sums up my thoughts on Ballroomology℠ and “The Art Of Moving Meditation”

1. Human Birth is hard to attain and extremely precious. We must do something of value with the opportunity.

2. All things are impermanent. The body that we are so attached to will soon be a corpse.

3. Karma is an immutable law. The results of our actions will return to us, so we must plant good seeds.

4. Samsara, the world of perpetual desires in which we have been trained to live, creates endless suffering. We must rise above it for our own benefit and the benefit of all beings.

I am so grateful to “Fritzi” for choosing me and allowing me to witness all of the above. I know I will continue to do him proud.

Bonnie Diaz
creator Ballroomology℠ “The Art of Moving Meditation”

© Copyright November 2012

Posted in Ballroomology, Dance Emotions | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Partnering An Aura. Really?

I looked up many definitions of the actual word ‘Aura”. I found wonderful and interesting explanations. But they all had something in common. A  sensation or a texture. I am writing this article in a non spiritual form. Therefore I will submit several different definitions to apply to this article.

1. The distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, place or thing.

2. An invisible emanation -a scent or oder.

3. Latin form the Greek breezy or breath.         My personal favorite.

Can one really partner an aura? Of course you can. You do it in every day life. Technically an aura extends about four feet around you in a circle. It enters the room before you do. You instinctively perceive it when walking down the street. Do you sense or perceive how to walk past someone without making physical contact. Or sit on a crowded subway with grace and ease? An action that we take for granted however it is part of our every day life and functions. And when you have or almost have a physical altercation with someone I guess you can say you did not partner their aura. Or you just can’t explain why you don’t like someones energy even before you meet them. Again sensing or feeling someones energy or aura.

But lets relate this to Ballroom Dance. We have to sense, track, feel and judge different speeds, shapes and distances when dancing with someone. Or if you are dancing in a formation you are partnering the aura or energy of the whole team into one great ameba. I always have beautiful pictures of Radio City and the Rockette’s with amazing precision dancing or the Irish Dancers especially Michael Flatly productions. But I digress.

The three types of leading or partnering in my mind are Visual, Turning and Shaping. These must be perceived and responded to with split second timing. You can practice for hours but as they say in the military if you can’t smell them coming down wind you haven’t got a chance.

Have you ever watched a couple perform a routine and time rotations in perfect unison without  ”seeing each other”? Or lift work that looks like nothing happened yet you saw the girl fly through the air with the greatest of ease? That my friend is partnering an aura. I don’t care what you call it. Connecting to a live energy and forcefield of a partner is the only way to go. People will say I don’t know it just happens. But I tell you whether they are aware of it or not that is what is being applied.

It is easier to develop these awarenesses by not doing set routines. Different exercises strengthen different senses. A non sighted person has amazing hearing and WILL react to a breath or breeze. Inner visions if you will. One person could have on a blind fold or keep eyes closed and react to any of the above or all three of the definitions stated. Let the sighted partner guide you around the room in different directions.Turn you, dip you, spin you. And of course the ultimate ask you to fall back into their arms. It can be any partner leading, following or taking turns. Alternate doing it with or without music. Use a waltz song to practice a Cha-Cha. Do a Viennese to a Rumba.You have to tune into each other so differently. And after all It is just an exercise. Maybe alternate and do it without music.

See if your partner can feel the exhalation of breath in your hand and respond to a change of shape, turn or direction. Alternate different breath patterns to see who responds best to what. Remember while competing or performing there is no guarantee that they will play a song that you like or that the circumstances will be perfect for you to perform. So get ready!

One person can keep the blindfold on the whole rehearsal. Have it on when you walk in the door change your shoes and begin. A great reference was the movie 9 and a half weeks from the 1980’s with Kim Bassinger and Mickey Rourke. He blindfolded her and just did different things to her. Fed her different things to activate her taste, sprayed different scents around her and my favorite giving her cough syrup. It was sensual, created trust but really showed how to partner ones aura or energy in a whole different perspective. Kind of like people on a spiritual journey who blindfold themselves live in a cave in darkness for a year. Talk about a change of perspective! I met a gal who did it. Trust me she was no way living in darkness. Going with in can only activate the light from the inside out.

We can become very used to each other movements in life and dance. To partner someone should be a breeze. Easy soft and gentle. We should be able to match or perceive each others breath for the ultimate partnering in dance. We should also be aware of doing this as an exercise by ourselves. It is important to be aware of the energy one is creating for ones self and for others.

An interesting exercise would be to spin someone like the game spin the tail on the donkey while they are blindfolded (gently of course) and then start dancing. They will develop a whole different awareness. The hearing changes, the smell increases, the body may react with a shiver to a new touch. It can be very interesting. And most importantly it is organic.

Rehearse outside in the park. What is the stimulus around you? How does your behavior change to your partner or to the people viewing you as you move.

Pick a color that you see as the other person’s aura. What does that color represent and how would you dance with that color as the goal.Pick your own color and do the same. You can do the same thing with smell. Burn some incense. Spray a chocolate scent in the room. How does that change the body language and perceptions. Dance in the rain like Gene Kelly, practice in the pool or lake like Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swazey in Dirty Dancing. Dance in the  snow or any type of texture that you can think of.

That is the key word TEXTURE! Whether you know it or not energy and aura’s create a feeling but they have a texture. And that is what you are trying to identify and recreate at will. Like these wonderful sound machines that are supposed to relax you. Birds singing, a waterfall, jungle sounds. They are all a texture that make you partner the auras of everyday living including yourself. The atmosphere that you have to deal with on an every day basis. When you are taking a coaching or a dance lesson or rehearsing with your partner remember you are partnering an aura.Your’s and the other people involved. And of course everyone else you meet. Pick your color, smell, texture sound or exercise and make it work for you!!!

Today I am feeling very orange. Really? How about you?

Bonnie Diaz
creator Ballroomology℠

© Copyright November 2012

Posted in Body Shaping, Dance Emotions | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Head weight. The Missing Link?

I have actually started to comprehend the use of head weight in dance after all these years. Not that my brilliant teachers and mentors have not tried to make me aware of it’s value, it is just my ears are now ready to hear.

Standing at the barre in a basic Finis Jhung Ballet class recently I finally heard what he was saying about the body’s plum line and how it shifts when a dancer has to shift his or her weight from foot to foot.

If our legs are in a split weight position as in a second position with equal distribution, the head weight naturally stays in the middle. As in a “semi- static” position like a grand plie. But we all must eventually move in some direction. If we shift our weight totally to the left foot it helps to visualize the inside of your left shoulder in line with the inside edge of your left foot. As well as the outside of your left shoulder in line with the pinky toe of that same foot. Let’s talk about that subtle mental shift of the head weight. The test has always been in dance can one rise or turn at any given time in a “state of ready”? This must be a conscious choice , action and addition to ones weight shift whether performing by oneself or with a partner. The actual action of including ones head weight in this action was literally mind-blowing to me. No pun intended. Once I understood that I must actually include my head weight and account for its placement in all directions life was beautiful. I could actually rise up and balance without much difficulty and with much more confidence.

I researched my thoughts and questions on head weight and actually found very little reference to its actual use in dance action. “Yes” I learned the weight of the head is anywhere between nine and eleven pounds, there are twenty-two bones in total. Eight cranial, fourteen facial. The bones are not formed at birth and that in the 1920’s the young osteopath named William Sutherland proved there was a motion or rhythm of the cranial bones. All excellent information but how do you actually apply and use your head weight while dancing?

Again back to the brilliant Finis Jhung. After drilling into the class about that center line and how to shift that position as I stated before he talked about progressing across the floor or room. He stated that when one is continually moving or turning to the right as an example that one must keep their head weight poised over their left shoulder. And of course the opposite applies when turning to the left. As soon as I had this awareness in my actions my dancing became weightless. My first thought was how do I transcribe this into helping Ballroom dance and partnering. If one is doing American Style this can be a very helpful action. One of the more difficult styles in my opinion. One has to pop in and out of dance position in a flash with perfect balance and placement. When I started coaching this and just hinting at it I must say I received lightening fast results. I also incorporated this into a basic underarm turn. Just telling the lady her head may stay poised over her left shoulder while turning to the right seemed to really help with balance issues and allow her to produce more speed, leg, hip, foot action and style.

Of course we have the issue of maintaining ones head balance and poise in a closed dance position. I think there are many factors involved. What level dancer are you. Are you so well balanced that you can take liberties with your alignment and posture. Basically it is always best in a closed dance position to shape ones body and head weight around a shared axis but there are always exceptions to the rule. Wonderful modern dance companies create whole bodies of work with head pitching movements across the stage defying acts of gravity to no end. When an advance dancer hits a pose line like a throw away oversway they may use their head weight with artistic license to increase the finished shape, to produce stronger musicality,light and shade of choreography or use it for a new direction, counter balance or lead for a partner. This applies to open partner work as well.

But I guess what bothered me the most on my journey was why it took me so long to catch on. And I realized several things I learned many years ago that just did not compute at the time. What is a walk? According to the Olympics both feet must be in contact with the ground at all times. That’s why you see those Olympic walkers kick their hip back and jut out their heel with a locked leg. To achieve the longest stride possible while maintaining correct contact. Which brought my attention to the human being and his or her walk. We have a natural rolling action(or gradual weight shift) we do not consciously shift our weight from foot to foot like a runner or a trained dancer. So our head weight naturally stays in the middle of our body.  So even if we practice hours in a studio we still WALK home in that state. For me this was the most amazing revelation that I had to consciously include my head weight with awareness in my life. As Ballroom Dancers we blend many different styles and techniques. Partnering is a whole different ball game. Using a gradual or instant weight shift may help us to produce the desired effect of a dance we choose to execute that day. Awareness of head weight can only help.

Head weight is an amazing tool. I thank all my wonderful mentors for trying to get in and around my head and never letting me off easy. And again so grateful to the magnificent Ballet Master Mr. Finis Jhung for being the one to finally let my ears be willing to hear.  Ironically attached to my head by the way.“The Missing Link” It was there all the time.

Bonnie Diaz
creator Ballroomology℠

© Copyright November 2012

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Regarding Cuban Hip “Action”


Regarding Cuban Hip “Action”

Lets address the word action. When I looked it up there were many definitions to choose from. The one I liked best was as follows: A gesture or movement. A manner or style of doing something. Typically the way a mechanism works or a person moves.

Again as I write I feel through experience that one must know what muscles are engaged when performing this action. A simple way to begin would be to face a mirror with legs together and alternate one leg straight and one leg bent simultaneously. Switch back and forth until your become familiar with the feeling and the look.

The bulk areas of the hip and buttock will be engaged.The Gluteals of course Maximus, Medius and Minimus. But specifically the lateral hip rotators. Piriformis and Quadratus Femoris, Obturator Internus and Obturator Externus. And Gemellus Superior and Gemellus Inferior. Fondly referred to as “the deep six”. The most important of these to address would be the Piriformis Muscle. I emphasize this muscle because it is the only one that starts at the front of the hip flexor and wraps around to insert into the sacral area. There is one on each side of the body. This is the muscle that the Ballet Dancers try to activate to maintain turn out. By practicing this wrapping action or visualizing it, it will help to engage the buttock area which must be active to create cuban hip action. Remembering that your hip weight may go back toward your heel but your body weight must remain poised or balanced forward. Or as I like to say toward the front of your foot. A good tracking action would be to visualize the femur or thigh bone balanced over your ankle bone. Also when shifting or splitting the weight the intent is to keep the weight forward even if you are moving the hip backward. The classic bow and arrow effect. Another example would be reaching the five toes back to extend a leg into a backward walk for Ballroom.Your standing leg is still pressing or staying forward to your partner. Or how quickly can you rise to your toe without any adjustment? These images will help you to learn gage the distribution of your body weight and see if you are balanced in the correct alignments.

But we must now think a little more dynamically if you will. The next actions I will speak about are what I call calculated or manipulated actions to add on to the simple forms stated above.  The ribcage. This must work in an isolated fashion in opposition of each hip. Example if you are pressing back into your left hip your right rib cage will pull away sideways or diagonally in an equal and opposite energized action. And vice-versa. Practice of this exercise enables your whole core to work in a unified and dynamic action. Resulting is much more visual and pleasing experience to the eye as well as possible additions of different body rhythms and musicalities. This would also be a good time to put on the music and practice these actions on the spot with each dance. Noticing how quickly or slowly the muscles must react to the different speeds of music to be “in time”.

The final area I would like to address would be the Latissimus dorsi muscle located underneath the shoulder blades. This areas can be used in a synchronized compressing action with the same hip being pushed back. Remember not to isolate the shoulders too much as they are the loosest joint in the body. Again this energy comes from underneath the shoulder blades. It adds a nice three dimensional flavor to the body rhythms on top of all the Cuban Hip actions.

And lastly I would like to address an issue I have been writing and teaching about for years. No matter what type of dance style you use it comes down to an instant or gradual weight shift or a blend of both. If you want to do a delayed or dropped hip action and transfer the weight gradually on a bent leg and call this “American Style” so be it. If I want to use the exact same muscles in the hip region and extend a straight leg in a Tendu ballet action and call it “International” so be it. The point is regarding Cuban Hip action the person in control of their body is making a style choice.The same muscles are being used to create this action no matter what you call it or how you choose to present it. Regarding Cuban Hip “ACTION”. Try not to dis-regard it!

Bonnie Diaz
© Copyright July 2012

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Natural Wisdom


Natural Wisdom:
As part of the opening series of lectures for BALLROOMOLOGY™ The study of Spirit, Mind and Body

When asked why I become a dancer I give the same response each time. “I had no choice”. I just knew since childhood that is what I was meant to do. Its what I call “Natural Wisdom”. All are born with it. We seem to let it guide us through childhood and sadly as we grow older we either ignore it or learn not to trust its value. Your intuition, your gut feeling, or your little voice as some people call it. I am now almost fifty-five years of age have quit a bit of life experience under my belt, have so much more to learn but a few things are starting to come into focus. A new perspective if you will. The veil is finally lifting. The Spiritual veil.

After following my life’s purpose and achieving fame and fortune, I retired from the Competitive Ballroom world empty. I won world championships, traveled the world, made lots of money. The more successful I became the more unhappy I had become. My relationship with my then husband and dance partner was a lie. We treated each other horribly on and off the dance floor. In the end none of the monies or tittles or prestige mattered. I just wanted to feel good. Find a little inner peace. Experience some joy during a performance and in every day life. Like I did when I was a child with my natural wisdom.

Acknowledging your body as a facility for perfect technique is a good thing. Focusing your mind and brain to train it to utilize certain patterns of action is a good thing as well. Top coaches from all walks of life are incorporating the Mind-Body connection. In the end you may have a robot that deep in their soul knows there is something missing. No real connection, no peace of mind or joy. Olympic champions still do steroids, famous people like Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson still die tragically. So out of balance. Why? They had it all. Or so you would think.

BALLROOMOLOGY tm is here to help people become aware of the connection to spirit through the study of Ballroom Dance. To complete the balance needed for the mind and the body. The trinity or triangle if you will.

What is the definition of spirit or spirituality? The awareness  of a divine power, of a universal energy, a connection to a God of your understanding, opening your heart to a state of unconditional love, experiencing compassion as a daily exchange with everything you encounter. These emotions or feeling are all encompassing in all walks of life. Coming to terms with the idea that none of this is permanent and we are all “just passing through” is really what this strong shift of energy is about. This truly is an illusion. Scientists are finally reporting that after years of study that there is a “God Particle”. I am glad the scientific community is finally coming around. Late as they may be. Bottom line call it what you like there is something much bigger and greater out there.

No matter what your age or your background we are all born with certain gifts, talents or skills. Some are lucky enough to utilize them, share them or even better make a living at them. But after researching for many years on myself and working with other’s reaching a certain body position, extension, winning a trophy there is still no true satisfaction. Yes, one may have a winners high for few days, make more money gain some more power. But in the end we all must die and leave this planet. The perfect Rumba walk or Feather Finish will not help you at this point. Being a Billionaire and having every material thing you wished for will not prevent this cross over. I can only ask “how well will you exit”?

One can only feel free from fear and anxiety at all times if they are aware of the spirituality that has been circling us for eons. Especially now more than ever things are happening resulting in a greater shock value. Couples who have been together for thirty years are splitting, wealthy people are walking away from their jobs to live a quiet life on a farm in Vermont. CEO’s and people of extreme power and wealth are committing suicide daily. Their souls and sprits instinctively know none of this is permanent and the only thing we can take with us is our spirit. How you have behaved during your lifetime will effect your soul eventually. Ballroom dance will instinctively elevate your consciousness if presented from a state of unconditional love for yourself and most importantly your partner. On and off the dance floor! Start now. Meditate a few minutes every day to stay calm. Be aware of your mind chat when with others. Keep your thoughts positive. Say only positive things. Think only positive things. Treat everything on this planet with caring and respect. It can only ripple to a positive results. Love all, Serve all. Practicing these energies is just as important as practicing a dance step.

Ballroom dance is an amazing venue for this. Once you acknowledge spirit and see the totality of the other person you will enjoy the sensation of acceptance. This spiritual energy allows you to enjoy yourself or anyone you should happen to interact with. Doing a Cha-Cha with someone becomes a joyful feeling and exchange for all involved. They will react off your energy. When connected with the divine your heart chakra is open you feel joy no matter what level of dance it is. Sooner or later you will realize that is all that matters. It very hard to achieve this state and just like becoming a champion and it takes practice, practice practice.

My biggest conclusion is that I have now decided to start all my teachings and lectures with this awareness of spirit and after that mind and body will fall into place. Lets embrace the natural wisdom of childhood we were all gifted with. Why settle for a piece of the puzzle when acknowledging the spirituality of Ballroom dance frees your heart. Your mind and body have no choice but to follow. Everyone’s perfect partner. Yourself and the Divine .

In winding down from the heavens I would joyfully like to quote the great Jazz Master Luigi who has been saying this to me since I first met him at nineteen years of age: “To learn how to dance put your hand on your heart and listen to the sound of your soul”. Natural Wisdom our gift to ourselves from the Divine.

Bonnie Diaz
© copyright July 2012

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One Important Leg: The one you are standing on!

Part of a series in the BALLROOMOLOGY tm system of dance.

As a dancer at any level beginner to professional there are certain types of movement one is expected to produce. Flawlessly I assure you but sometimes the most simple of things are in reality the most profound.

Simply put a dancer in any style must learn specific actions to produce the desired effect of the style of dance one chooses to perform or participate in. Bend or lower, straighten or rise, open and close ones legs. Sounds simple but it can become a reoccurring nightmare. I use the leg action as a primary reference because one can only start from the floor where the foot is connected at the ground level. You only have one important leg “the one you are standing on”. You can swing away with the free leg (or side) and try to fly but loss of balance is sure to be your end result.

The basic action of lowering to learn how to do a “ballroom” walk, roll ones weight and push through the foot and across the floor if practiced incorrectly of course produces incorrect movement and memory. And in the end you are what you look like.

I would like to reference to my previous article of “foot pressure” and what muscles in the foot claw the floor in that suction cup type action through out any lowering process. Please keep that in mind as the first action of a lowering. Drawing the energy up from the floor. All leg muscles are engaged as a result of this action. Also remember it is all done with a counter balance energy. If you are lowering down with the foot and leg the top of your head is pulling up.

Upon completion of this action we will want to rise or continue forward, side or back. Either way these are the next actions to take. We are trying to move “our bones” around the room BUT the muscles and ligaments hold those bones together. Therefore the muscles must be engaged at all times.

After lowering you will notice a flexed or bent knee and the angle of the shin bones(Tibia-Fibula) will have shifted slightly forward to the front of the foot. Changing the angle of the ankle as well. From this point the dancer must keep constant focus on pushing down and away from the floor encouraging the knee to push or roll forward toward the tips of the toes, (assisted constantly by the grip and push of the foot) . From this point the most difficult part to me is about to begin. The natural action of kicking back the knee toward the heel in a straightening or hyperextension like action(when rising or progressing forward or back) is what the true cause is of loss of control and balance. By keeping muscular focus on constantly pressing the knee forward with resistance is the guarantee of how one maintains balance to roll the weight forward across the foot(think big toe nail) and the floor. A test would be to be able to slightly lift your heel at all times.

If a dancer decides to rise as in the Waltz, turn or spin, the top of the thigh(femur bone)  and all the quadriceps, hamstrings, and the hip joint (hip flexors) must follow in the same line creating this pushing-pressing down and away action. Again up, down or sideways or backwards it is all the same tracking action of the body weight through the foot.

Regarding the hip flexor to help your balance. You can think of lifting or energizing your Pubic Crest(bone) up to your sternum, a possible slight squeezing of the buttock muscles a.k.a. gluteals (hip rotators) all these areas are in a constant state of engagement and never relaxed. Once you have achieved this muscular control you can bend and shape and progress in the artistic expression of your choice.

The foot and leg will literally pull the rest of your body (core)  through the foot in the correct and desired shape of your choice. Think Michael Jackson and his RHYTHM “moon walk” or cross-country skiing. The result will be a full body awareness from foot to head and will allow you to do several things. Create a conscious state of balance from the inside out, manipulate certain body parts at desired times for musicality or artistic expression, allow you to keep your head and shoulders balanced correctly on top of your spine for finer tuning and stronger poise and presence. Also your spine, joints and bones will fall in line like a slinky domino effect. It is a joyful feeling once a body mind and spirit has this rhythmic awareness. It can only ripple to bigger and better things.

If it is easier to stand at a wall or a barre and do these actions in a static pose then do it. Practice lowering on the leg closest to the wall. Duplicate the above instructions. At the same time either pick the opposite knee up off the floor in front of you and practice extending it forward side or back. Rise up and down with the rolling actions described above a million times. Make sure your standing shoulder is lined up over your standing hip, leg and foot. Pick your arms up and interlock your fingers behind your head(press the back of your skull into your hands) to activate your Rhomboids and Latissimus dorsi muscles as a counter balance for your upper body and arms. As long as it all comes from the standing leg, its actions and connections you will be projecting your body weight across the floor or in the air all from the simple reference of pushing or tracking the weight thought the foot. The possibilities of freedom and free will are endless . After reading and applying these exercises I hope no one ever says to you “You haven’t Got a Leg To Stand On”! And in your heart you will always know you just have one!

Bonnie Diaz

copyright July 2012

all rights reserved


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Foot Pressure. How and where does it come from?

So I have relocated to midtown Manhattan after hiding for twenty years uptown in the wilds of Central Park West. Been gifted with a new apartment three blocks away from the new Alvin Ailey Center. Basically what this means is NO excuses about getting back to class for the first time in fifteen years as a “TOTAL” student. It has been at times painful, uncomfortable, and even a bit joyful. But the end result has been collecting and applying some new data, some old data all in a new unit of time with no pressure of making a final round.

After numerous classes over the last three months from incredible Ballet teachers, Tap teachers, Yoga and Pilates Instructors, I have heard a new definition for the word “technique’ as well as what I now believe a fuller understanding of foot pressure how to create it and apply it. I would like to share this with you as part of the new BALLROOMOLOGY tm system of teaching. Having started to experiment with coaching and teaching all levels of students. Once again I believe the successful results I have been experiencing are due to sharing a Kinetic viewpoint of how one consciously uses their bodies to create the desired movements and effects in their chosen style of dance.

The phrases”Use the floor” ,”Your not using your feet”or “Everything starts with the floor” or the one that frustrated me the most for years “Keep the weight toward or use the inside edge of your foot” seemed to be very elusive to me as well as not offer a solution or an action to produce the correct usage of the floor when one chooses to use it. So after just pretending to understand and apply some kind of pressure with my foot or toe to the floor, bearing down and gritting my teeth with tremendous pressure on my Quads and knees with all my might resulting in two lovely torn cartilages by the way so at this point I think I would like to offer a different perspective.

I am only going to address the foot in this article. One must apply many principles while attempting to dance. But one must learn things one step at a time in order to create a coordinated muscular memory, body skill and then in an instant multitask to produce a product. So here we go….The Foot.

The foot contains twenty-six bones which I will only acknowledge in the actions I present. I will mostly stay focused on the three arches of the foot which has numerous muscles as well.The three arches of the foot act to raise the center of the foot. They are: The Transverse( a horizontal line across the top of the foot ), Medial Longitudinal(toward the inside edge from big toe toward the ankle),Lateral Longitudinal(outer edge from pinky toe toward the ankle).This vulnerable area called the arch was defined by Delsarte as “The Emotional Part of The Foot”.

If you look down at the top of your foot try to picture a horizontal line starting from the bottom of your big toe joint traveling across to the bottom of your pinky toe joint. From each of those points the big toe and the pinky toe joint draw a line back toward your heel creating a triangle.This connects up with your Calcaneus or heel creating three points of contact. If your feet are parallel or in turned out position it matters not. The same result will be accomplished. Using all your toes grip, pull or claw your feet and toes up toward your core in a suction cup action.Practice this for a while until you are familiar with the sensation. When you are ready slowly lower or bend your knees toward the floor at the same time(the basic Plie). This automatically engages all the calf and leg muscles including the insides of the thighs as well as angles the shins slightly forward to keep weight off the knee. By using this technique you are automatically creating foot pressure by pulling the energy up from the floor when you lower as a counter balance or as we say working with equal and opposite energies. Not just pressing down in one direction. This takes wasteful and harmful pressure of the knees and helps to avoid injury to those areas. It is always best to work slowly and stay mindful and tuned in to the process. Please note this is used only in the lowering action as in Waltz or other dances. A helpful aide would be to place both hands in front of you on a flat surface and try the same actions. It will help you to visualize the look and feel of the foot. The palm of your hand is the arch of your foot. Your fingers are your toes.

Rising through the foot is a different action which I shall explain shortly. But I will say the more you suction or claw your toes in your shoes when walking down the street or even practice the whole dance rehearsal gripping your toes and lifting the arches you are reinforcing the action and making a quicker muscular memory for future use.

After you have reached the bottom of your lowering or Plie (parallel or turned out) as you come back up spread the toes on the floor flat and upon gradual rising crease all five toe joints to create a platform and push away from the floor. Still pushing down to rise but keeping the image of the three arches lifting will keep all the leg, foot and thigh muscles engaged to create an equal and opposite foot pressure. When in static position as you begin to rise gently shift your hips slightly forward and make sure you roll the knee and thigh forward as well so the weight of the legs feels lengthened down the front of your thighs. This also helps you to avoid popping or hyperextending your knees. When balancing in full foot rise it best to focus the point of balance on the big and middle toe of each foot instead of the outside edge of the foot. The results will be a very conscious creation of foot pressure upon will. This also increases stability and performance consistency.

It is an energy of the life force that we are utilizing. A focus of the mind a connection of the soul to partner or to ones self or music. To create an expression of dance. A visual art form. Other Spiritual and Yogic Practices teach about connection to below the Earths surface tapping in to her “Core” strength and energies. Drawing it up through your feet to your heart and other vital organs. Performing Arts Masters will talk about visualizing working from below the floor as a mental focus while creating the lifting of the arches to create foot pressure, resistance or a type of leverage. Whether you are standing on one foot or two the floor is the only connection one has when dancing.You can connect with a partner but they will not give you balance, stability or foot pressure. In the end whether experiencing life or death you are on your own.

It is my wish that these exercises and explanations will help you to lean toward a kinetic understanding of the human body and it’s many wonderful usages in todays world. Ease your mind and your heart and encourage you to feel joy while you dance.

In closing let me share my new definition I heard from a wonderful Ballet teacher here in the city. I thought it was Brilliant, Simple and Profound. But then again most great things are. Technique: “HAVING CONTROL OF YOUR BODY NOT LETTING YOUR BODY HAVE CONTROL OVER YOU!”

Bonnie Diaz
Copyright Bonnie Diaz 2011 or 2012.  All rights reserved

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