Last month I taught a seminar in Boulder and last weekend I was in the bay area. In boulder my hosts were from the Apex movement parkour community, it was the first parkour community I have seen where dance was becoming a major interest, and large group of us attended a hip hop class together. Then last week I was in the bay area for a seminar and Shira Yaziv owner of the atheltic playground took me to my first contact improv jam, and an axis syllabus class.
There was a lots of discussion on both trips about the importance of dance, how it interrelates with other movement arts, what it teaches you. One key aspect i the concept of movement quality, Cosmo Dudley from apex who is taking his parkour and tricking skills into circus performance shared with me how in the circus world everyone dances you have your specific skill set to showcase but dance is what holds together the performance and provides the quality of movement.
Because of the aesthetic focus present in most dance the question is always there of not just did you do it, but did you do it well and beautifully, sometimes these aesthetic considerations go to0 far and result in patterns that are less sustainable for the body, but often aesthetics do actually teach us how to do something more efficiently. In order to move aesthetically and beautifully one must find a balance between relaxation and tension this balance is key to all athletic movement but dance more then most movement practices teaches relaxation and release of tension because excess tension results in blocky, awkward, loud and unaesthetic movement.
The ability to land quietly with perfect stability and an upright torso from a wide variety of different entrances absolutely carries over to athletic movement in generally. Or to receive the ground with a wide range of body parts from various falling patterns softly and continue movement out of them.
For me coming from a background where allot of strength and power has already been developed in my body and I have wide movement vocabulary already dance provides a perfect balance to my regular practice, because of this emphasis on relaxation, fine tuned movements and movement through wide ranges of motion. I feel more recovered and energized by taking a dance class the day after a hard session of jumping and climbing then if I simply rested.
I can’t emphasize enough how much I recommend practicing dance and if possible taking some dance classes for anyone interested in being a generalist mover.
Check out this sample of axis syllabus work and play with some of the ground reception skills.
And for inspiration check out this video from Keone and Mariel one of my favorite youtube channels for dance.