Your dance intelligence is not only a property of your mind. As a dancer you need to learn to 'think' with your body in order to truly sense the movement. Being aware of what you do and feel is only possible when you are in harmony with your body and your inner self. In dancing, 'doing' needs to be translated into sensing.
The body has a natural inherent wisdom/intelligence, an inborn know-how, its own priorities and if we do not detect and feel them, we can work against the body by abusing it or exhausting it to an unhealthy degree. Your body is a memory bank of all past experiences, therefore its automatic pilot is very strong. But there are many techniques and ways of mastering your body awareness, to hear and feel your body and get deeper in touch with it.
In addition to your regular technical training, Gyrotonic would be, from my perspective, the most recommended. This kind of exercise can stimulate understanding of your own inner body map in detail.
When your awareness increases through the exercises, various physical changes and re-alignments will occur and you will start feeling them. For example, your body will re-posture itself, you will not need to 'adopt the correct posture' anymore, you will 'be your posture'. The embodiment of every movement is essential. From here, new ways of awareness will open to you.
Here is an analogy that conveys how you could perceive your potential. The uniqueness and quality of diamonds is measured by using the four "C’s": cut, color, clarity and carat. Imagine that you are born into this world like a raw diamond. The potential is there, but you need to recognize it, pull it out and shape it, by using your dance intelligence.
Translated into a symbolic dance language, cut can represent your technical skill. What caused the intoxication of the mind that fundamental principles of our dance style look like a vague memory of something once learned? Could it be the desire for success, neediness, wrong attachments …?
Technique is not there for its own sake, the point of correctness is to move towards greater effectiveness. Technique should be mastered so as to make sure that your body does not prevent the soul from expressing itself.
It is your chosen way of treating the movement in order to achieve control and character/style of the dance, portrayed through control of the action, timing, posture and body shaping, musicality and partnering skills.
The way you cut your diamond (how you treat certain biomechanical stereotypes), shapes it into a specific action or movement.
You have to adjust your technical skill consistently, as the entire psychomotor ability is changing on a daily basis.
Technique will gradually disappear into a function, effect, or skill, which can talk for itself or serve as a vehicle to say something else. Your aim should be to have control, mastery over the movement, and the strength to perform with ease and effortlessness – “the strength of a tiger and lightness of a bird”. When technique is not only a physical exercise, but also your creative tool, your individual style will start to shine through it. Expressed lyrically: technical quality gives a dancer roots and wings, stability and freedom.
The color of a diamond can correspond to the spectrum of different moods and emotions that can be expressed through dancing. Moods and atmosphere are not added on top of the movement, but expressed through the elements of the dance.
When actuality starts to disappear, doors for the virtual and illusive start to open. A dancer, like a magician, creates the atmosphere in which the interplay of emotions, senses and fantasy take over in the form of effects, impressions and appearances such as playfulness, liveliness, excitement, warmness, alertness, sensuality, passion, devotion, ease, humor, arrogance, ignorance, freedom, intrigue, etc.
Clarity of dance expression can be perceived through the entire articulation – the way you say something with your movement. When it comes to the degree of vagueness, when clarity is gone and meaning is lost, we have to realize what caused it and how to return home.
You might feel the loss of clarity as confusion or emptiness. Don't allow yourself to be captured in this state. Find a solution, make a clear decision how you want to treat each movement according to your idea. Whatever action you take, it's always a good start.
When your diamond is cut properly and shines beautifully, you are ready to share it with your partner and the music. These can add the extra spotlight on your diamond and you can give the same back to them through your spiritual layer. Your spirit carries your world of values, ideas, meanings and beliefs, which are all there to be shared.
And this is where the carat can be perceived. Carat is an expression for the impact, depth, character and uniqueness that you are representing. Your distinctive qualities can be related to any level of your existence – physical/technical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Employing inherited gifts and advantages and developing or discovering new ones will encourage and inspire your intention for originality and perfection.
Are your body, mind and emotions burdened by the goals of the Dance sport discipline? Who do you trust with co-cutting your diamond or influencing your dance expressiveness? Take your life into your hands and make your own decisions. Consult with people that you trust. It takes an expert to distinguish the difference between a zircon and a diamond and it is the same in the process of dance evaluation.
Acknowledge your dance intelligence
Our body talks to us at all times, but because we are too focused on what the mind is saying, we don't hear the voices of our instinct and intuition anymore. You can work more consciously on synchronizing your intellectual potential with your instinct and intuition in order to feel in control, yet free. What matters is the integration of your body physiology with your thoughts and feelings.
Your instinct is old, mature. Not only does it have roots in the entire evolution of the human race, but it carries, as well, your animalistic past. Instinct has a voice when the body functions spontaneously. Nature has given the body its own wisdom/intelligence; therefore, instinct is infallible. Make sure that your inner animal feels free. In the process of dancing, instinct should be allowed a relaxed flow. Unfortunately, it is too often disturbed by intellect, judgment or expectations.
Intuition also exists within our being. It is our inner teacher, our consciousness. Intuition has a voice when the soul functions spontaneously. For hearing this tiny voice, you have to calm and slow down. When you can hear the inner voice, it will tell the curious mind, the intellect, where to look next. Intuition works within the unknown and inexplicable – it can only be felt, like dancing. It is our gut feeling that often knows the truth before the intellect analyzes the situation. Intellect is a conductor, instinct an executor and intuition a fine regulator.
Intellect is a master of all our being, it works non-stop, even when we sleep. As it is very witty, it can substitute real experience with beliefs, philosophies or ideologies. But when intellect is perceived as a bridge between instinct and intuition, it doesn’t serve only for explaining the unknown, it can also link known and unknown into an expression.
Further insight and clearer guidelines for improving your dance intelligence will follow in the upcoming articles.
Until then, turn a lens on you, acknowledge your potential and dance intelligence and enjoy the discovery trip.
Source of inspiration
De Mello, Anthony. Awareness. Zondervan, 1990
Franklin, Eric. Dance Imagery for Technique and Performance. Human Kinetics, 1996
Osho. Intuition. St. Martin’s Press, 2007