Friday, March 9, 2007

How It Started

I had been dancing since early childhood and teaching dance for over 15 years when I was first introduced to the Feldenkrais Method®. What immediately drew my attention was the way it improved my comfort, organization and understanding of my own body and movement habits. I should probably mention that I was suffering terrible knee pain at that time and seemed destined for surgery. But from the first lesson, I felt steady improvement.

Intrigued by my personal experience, I began introducing some of the concepts and movement sequences that I had learned in Awareness Through Movement® classes to my students, including dance students and non-dancer Pilates clients. The results were astounding. I saw mal-adaptive movement habits begin to change. Chronic pain complaints were replaced with enthusiasm and a renewed zest for life as students discovered that they could move better—and not just in class, but also in their lives outside of dance and Pilates.

My experiences with these students prompted me to seek out professional certification in the Feldenkrais Method. During the four-year certification process I completely re-evaluated my role as a dance/movement educator. One of the realizations that I came to was that the most important gift I could give my students would be to help them first learn about themselves. So I started taking time at the beginning of class to help them connect with their bodily/kinesthetic awareness by introducing the Awareness Through Movement process. Not only did they dance better, they knew they were dancing better and they knew why. They implicitly understood how to feel their way to improved technique—and I observed this in students as young as 10 years old (the youngest age group I was teaching at that time.)

Of course, I still needed to provide guidance. I needed to provide a context for helping them to see the connection between what they were feeling during Awareness Through Movement and what they were doing in dance. But once they began to catch on to the fact that there was going to be a connection—they began looking for it. They became engaged in their own learning process in an entirely new way. They eagerly anticipated the question they knew was going to come: “Who would like to share a way that Awareness Through Movement helped you in dance today?”

This is a good question for dance educators to ask themselves as well. I think there is a tendency, especially when you teach a lot of classes on a weekly basis, to loose a connection with your own body. The focus is always outward, on your students or on the steps. But reconnecting with your personal experience of movement—even the simplest underlying patterns of movement—will give you a different insight and a different way to communicate with your students, while helping you to take better care of yourself as you teach.

My vision for IntelliDANCE is that it will become a time and a space for dance educators to explore this process. I hope you will join me during the upcoming IntelliDANCE Teleconference, and I look forward to reading about your insights, discoveries and stories here on our Blog.

Warmest regards,

Andrea Higgins, Creative Dir.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Welcome to IntelliDANCE

If two individuals get together and exchange a dollar, they each walk away with a dollar. If the same individuals get together and exchange an idea, they both walk away with two ideas.
~Thomas Jefferson

I love that quote by Thomas Jefferson, and it gets at the very heart of what the IntelliDANCE Blog is all about. This is a place to share ideas. Our members are dance educators who are pursuing a course of study in the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education. They are classmates in the IntelliDANCE Teleconference program, offered through Kinesthetic Edge, and they are at the forefront of exploring ways to integrate somatic learning strategies in dance education. This blog serves as a way for them to connect with each other by sharing strategies that they have successfully implemented with their students.

The IntelliDANCE Blog will also, from time to time, feature posts by invited somatic education specialists. These individuals will help to provide additional insight and creative, experientially-based strategies that can be utilized in the dance classroom.

Welcome to IntelliDANCE. I hope you find inspiration from each other and from the learning process that is the Feldenkrais Method.


Andrea Higgins, Creative Director