Monday, November 26, 2007

Jump Thoughts

I have been working with the ideas and movement explorations in this week’s Podcast lesson for a number of years. I would like to share the background, for it has to do with a story I once heard about Nijinsky.

When I was training to become a Feldenkrais® practitioner, the Educational Director of my program, David Zemach-Bersin, showed a video of a lecture given by Moshe Feldenkrais on Nijinsky. I was not able to obtain a transcript of the lecture, as it was under copyright, so I contacted David afterward to see if he might be able to provide further information. He was only able to provide some basic context, the essence of which, is that Moshe was introduced to a family member of Nijinsky, who let Moshe look at Nijinsky’s private journals.

In his lecture, I recall Moshe talking about how Nijinsky was able to “fly out the window.” He never clarified this point further; I assume he was referring to a moment in a specific ballet, but as I am not a Nijinsky scholar (and have never studied his journals), I am not sure what he was referring to exactly. The more important part of Moshe’s lecture had to do with how Nijinsky prepared to “fly out the window.”

Moshe said that Nijinsky would sit quietly in a chair and gently lift his feet off the ground. He would do this for some time. Then, he would get up and “fly out the window.” What interested me about this story was not the part about flying out the window. It was the part about sitting in a chair and gently lifting his feet. It was the glimpse into Nijinsky’s process.

Much of what we do in dance is an extension of what we do in daily life. It is a more exaggerated, dynamic, faster and stylized extension of daily activities. As learners and teachers we forget that underlying the most complicated or virtuosic dance combinations are some very basic movement and body organization patterns.

Think about what a jump—out the window or otherwise—really is for a moment. It is an extension of standing up. For a very young child it is often a very joyful extension of standing up. In dance we limit the expression of those basic patterns according to stylistic requirements, but by returning to the basic functional patterns from time to time, we can help to reorganize ourselves in such a way that our dance patterns improve.

In this week’s Podcast lesson we will see if we can figure out what Nijinsky seemed to intuitively understand. How, by sitting quietly in a chair and lifting our feet, we can improve our jumps. Enjoy!

IntelliDANCE Podcast 4: Jump Thoughts

© Andrea Higgins 2007