Movement Exercise: Chest, Circular
brings together the material covered in the two body isolation exercises:
both into a coherent circular motion. Among the many benefits which
will become obvious as we progress, mastery of circular motion will
increase greatly the fluidity of your movement thus enhancing the quality
of your dancing.
The elastic string
teaching point is valid now more than ever, as is the health caution.
Both of these I've reiterated below.
string" teaching point
Imagine that there's a piece of elastic string attached to the centre
of your diaphragm, passing through the top of your head, and fastened
to a point in the ceiling.
Imagine the dome
of your diaphragm being pulled upward toward the ceiling by the elastic
string. As you do so, you'll find your spine coming into alignment and
better supporting your ribcage.
Close your eyes,
and listen to and feel your breathing. Feel how the "elastic string"
teaching point seems to lighten your chest and release pressure in the
This exercise involves movement of the lower back. If you suffer from
a serious back condition then you should not proceed. If you want to
be sure, submit this exercise for evaluation by your physician. If you
have determined that it is safe, you should still manage your expectations
for suppleness but adopting a 'slowly but surely' approach.
From the body isolation: chest tutorials, we have five reference points;
one of which is the central neutral position. The other four can be
expressed in either the
- first person
perspective i.e. front, back, right and left; or
- third person
perspective from above, using the cardinal compass points i.e.
north, south, east and west.
I have chosen
to present the material from the third person perspective. This encourages
an objective detachment and renders the practices easier to visualise.
begins with simple 'join-the-dots' exercises and progresses with increasing
emphasis on circularity and flow. Not all possible combinations are
given; as a matter of fact, mirror-image equivalents are deliberately
omitted for you to work out on your own.
working the diagonals
Move your torso, linking two points to form a diagonal. For example:
1.1. A pair of diagonals
An extended version of the first exercise where two sets of diagonals
are joined by,
- Exercise 1.2.1
a lateral link:
north - west - north - west - east, - south - east - south
- east - west.
- Exercise 1.2.2
a vertical link:
west - north - west - north - south, - east - south - east
- south - north.
1.2. Linking the diagonals:
horizontally (left) and vertically (right)
connecting three points
There are two variants of this, the first one returns to the starting
point by retracing the path in reverse, the other returns to the beginning
by cutting across the centre point.
- Exercise 2.1.1
west - south - east, then east - south - west
- Exercise 2.1.2
going across the centre point:
west - south - east, then centre - west
2.2. Filling out the corners
moving through three points, a different direction
Similar to Exercises 2.1 and 2.2 but where the former followed an east
- west axis, use a north - south axis instead.
Exercise 3 full circle
Passing through all four peripheral reference points to form a complete
circle, beginning and ending on the same point. For example:
- west - south - east - north; and
east - south - west - north - east.
beyond full circle
Here you have to picture mentally, starting in a corner, performing
a loop (full circle Exercise 3.1) and ending in a different corner.
This practice does three things, it:
- makes your
you to focus on the corners, thereby keeping your movement circular
(there is a tendency to cheat by 'cutting corners' which, if left
unchecked, would result in a lumpy diamond-shaped action); and
- makes you
practice starting and stopping in the corners in addition to the cardinal
reference points, thereby increasing your resolution by 100%.
4. Tracing a loop
Imagine the elastic string, one end attached to a central point far
above your head and the other to the pendulum bob that represents the
dome of your diaphragm.
pendulum weight as being heavy and moving slowly, describing a perfectly
To change direction,
feel it coming to a slow stop, and then gradually gather momentum to
circle in the opposite direction.
Food for thought
Augmenting your physical prowess is well and good, but to elevate skills
beyond mere mechanical ability requires as much effort be spent on understanding
their nature and purpose - the 'whys', 'hows', and 'whens'.
Here are a few
points you might consider:
- How does incorporating
this movement affect my dancing?
If a partnership can be regarded as a discrete energetic system, introducing
torso movement in this manner injects more energy into that system.
What changes or improvements need to be made to be able to handle
the energy better? [Hint: The successful incorporation of torso movement
stresses the importance of good grounding. Which tutorials help with
- How do I co-ordinate
the timing of this movement with whatever else I'm doing?
Most existing material is biased toward joint cascades in the vertical
direction. With this motion being lateral, what needs to be done to
converge the vertical with the horizontal seamlessly? [Hint:
Look the whole body cascade tutorial for clues.]
- In this form
of dance, the lower body utilises a combination of circular and linear
paths. Now so does your upper body. What combinations of movement
are possible between lower and upper body? How do they feel? When
might you use a particular combination?
- How can I
build on this tutorial beyond the written page?
Flex your creativity and explore how you can evolve this exercise
to continue improving. Take ownership of it.
If I wanted to increase my level of movement control, I might adapt
the exercise to resemble something like: