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Modern Class Feels

That feeling when you randomly see a video of class from a couple weeks ago and you’re like, “Who’s the asshat in the striped shirt with with the legs and the getting confused about the inversion?” 

And then you’re like, “Oh, that’s me. Never mind.”

(To my defense, I am no longer confused about the inversion, though in today’s Totally Modern Men’s Class* we learned more choreography and I managed to wind up on the wrong leg at the end.

*Today it was 3 guys in class.)

Modern M….uesday

Modern class began at my primary studio today.

I think I might have mentioned that the instructor dances in Modern T’s company? Anyway, she does, and it turns out that I actually know her(1). We were like, “Oh! It’s you!”

  1. This is no longer surprising; the dance world is ridiculously tiny and intimate: it’s like 2.23 degrees of separation up in here. If that. It was extra-unsurprising this time, since I knew that the instructor was part of Moving Collective, but still neat.

Anyway, I was not just the Onliest Boy, but the Onliest Student—another Ambush Private Class! 😀

This was great for me, of course. We took it slowly today, and this and the student:teacher ratio of 1:1 gave LF a chance to really drill in and sort some of the details of my modern technique.

Like, for example, I have apparently never had the faintest idea how to release my neck. I never realized that. Sometimes it would happen on its own, and I would think, “Oh, modern feels good today!” without really understanding why.

Most of the time, though, my neck just didn’t release—and I didn’t know it wasn’t releasing. Then, in floor work, either my neck was always straining away, refusing to cooperate with the process, or I just shoved my head down onto (2) the floor rather than letting my neck melt.

  1. Note that I wrote onto and not into, here. To get into the floor, you really have to release. You have to feel gravity working on your body.

In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m your stereotypical flexible-but-very-tense Ballet Boy (another way in which I am, ridiculously and laughably, Central Casting Ballet Boy). I think this is one of the reasons that modern is so good for my ballet technique: it helps me relax and soften my upper body, which not only makes my dancing look better, but actually makes my dancing better.

Classical ballet technique—especially the Russian approach, perhaps—demands lightness and freedom in the upper body. In my experience, the funny thing is that once your upper body figures out “light and free” (while remaining engaged and disciplined), the lower body part actually gets easier.


The essence of classical ballet technique, via Pintrest

The hard part for me, though, is keeping the upper body light and free, instead of tight and bound(3). This is where modern comes in.

  1. Okay, so really, keeping any part of my body light and free, instead of tight and bound, is hard for me. Remind me to get back into meditation practice…

Floor work doesn’t, well, work if you’re tight and bound. Release technique doesn’t work if you don’t know how to release. When I’m not doing modern class on a regular basis, I forget how to relax and release.

This is the second time in my life I’ve had a private modern class, if I remember correctly. I feel like it was exactly the right way to jump (or, more accurately, ooze :D) back into Modern. It helped me figure out where some of my weak points in modern are (not just the “can’t relax” thing, but also the thing where I’m afraid of falling over sideways).

We touched on quite a few other things, many of which fit neatly into the “move like a human” concept that Monika discusses over at The Dance Training Project.

So I feel like I learned a lot today, and also like my body is coming back online.

That’s a good feeling. As dancers, we live in our bodies so much, and when we feel separated from them, it’s really uncomfortable—or, well, that’s my experience.

My fitness is starting to return, which is great.

Anyway, LT is a fantastic teacher, and she comes up with really amazing analogies that do a fantastic job conveying concepts central to modern technique and, really, to just moving effectively as a human being (which we Central Casting Ballet Weirdos don’t always do very well). She also described my legs as a long and powerful, which never hurts 😀

Anyway, that’s it for now. I’m really looking forward to Thursday’s class … and, of course, to Killer Class tomorrow!

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