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Teaching Dancing with Ideokinetic Principles

Teaching Dancing with Ideokinetic Principles

Drid Williams
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 144
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    Teaching Dancing with Ideokinetic Principles
    Book Description:

    In examining ideokinesis and its application to the teaching and practice of dancing, Drid Williams introduces readers to the work of Dr. Lulu Sweigard (1895-1974), a pioneer of ideokinetic principles. Drawing on her experiences during private instructional sessions with Sweigard over a two-year span, Williams discusses methods using imagery for improving body posture and alignment for ease of movement. Central to Williams's own teaching methods is the application of Sweigard's principles and general anatomical instruction, including how she used visual imagery to help prevent bodily injuries and increasing body awareness relative to movement. Williams also emphasizes the differences between kinesthetic (internal) and mirror (external) imagery and shares reactions from professional dancers who were taught using ideokinesis. Williams's account of teaching and practicing ideokinesis is supplemented with essays by Sweigard, William James, and Jean-Georges Noverre on dancing, posture, and habits. Teaching Dancing with Ideokinetic Principles offers an important historical perspective and valuable insights from years of teaching experience into how ideokinesis can shape a larger philosophy of the dance.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09306-7
    Subjects: Education, Performing Arts

Table of Contents

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  1. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Lynn Martin

    Dr. Drid Williams provides us with a vivid and perceptive account of the work she did with Dr. Lulu Sweigard, the founder of ideokinesis, during the 1950s and 1960s, and how she applied Sweigard’s tenets to her own teaching of dance over many years and venues. This detailed explanation offers an invaluable look at the historical context and groundbreaking teaching concepts that both Williams and Sweigard originated. The field of somatics has expanded dramatically since that time. Both manifestations and inspiration from this seminal work have been developed and applied in different ways, yet it is important to those of...

  2. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    When I studied with Dr. Lulu E. Sweigard (b. 1895–d. 1974) in the late 1950s, I went to her for “neuromuscular reeducation.” The name “ideokinesis” didn’t yet exist (the word is a combined form meaningideo= “idea,” pluskinesis= “body movements” or “gestures”). This name was applied to the discipline in the early nineteen-seventies. There were comparatively few people in the New York dance world (or elsewhere) fifty years ago who had heard of Sweigard and her work in movement education. Moreover, “ neuromuscular reeducation” was not an attractive name, because it implied that something was wrong—...

  3. Chapter 1 Beams of Light
    (pp. 1-20)

    Because I took courses in physiology and anatomy at Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon, during the early forties, Dr. Sweigard said I could begin lessons with her after completing a single private course in bone anatomy with Dr. C. A. de Vere in New York City. I enrolled with him in 1957 and worked with him for six months. I started with Dr. Sweigard at the end of 1957 and continued with her for approximately a year and a half to two years.

    Attending the lessons was difficult, because at the time, she was not teaching at Juilliard full-time;...

  4. Chapter 2 Relaxation
    (pp. 21-36)

    ThroughoutA Kinesthetic Legacy, Barbara Clark refers to the so-called relaxation features of ideokinesis as “table work” and “table teaching” (Matt 1993: 43–47, 49). I found her comments especially interesting because my introduction to ideokinesis was entirely through the constructive rest position (hereafter called CRP). Many sessions I had with Sweigard consisted solely of “table work” in the CRP. I was told that the CRP was a necessary beginning because I would not be able to change any of the bodily postures or habits I haduntil I could successfully reduce the tensions already existing in my bodythrough...

  5. Chapter 3 Baking Biscuits and Kinesthesia
    (pp. 37-53)

    We start with the idea of an interface between ideokinesis and teaching dancing. For me, the diagram illustrates a personal choice:

    More important to realize, perhaps, is the fact that there are huge differences between teaching ideokinesis to nondancers and dancers. The area of overlap grows smaller for dancers because the aims and attitudes of serious dancers toward their bodies are in a class by themselves. On the whole, professional dancers are in a distinctly different social group that is defined by what they do. To a professional dancer, the body is aninstrumentor vehicle through which he or...

  6. Chapter 4 Doctors, Dancing, and Ideokinesis
    (pp. 54-72)

    Before making specific distinctions between teaching dancing to professionals (or aspiring professionals) and the kind of classes I taught in Green Bay, Wisconsin, I will make a further point about Sweigard’s book and her system of teaching as I conceive it. I alluded to various responses to her book (and, by extension, to ideokinetic practice) in a review written in 1979, published in 1981:

    If one thinks of dancers reading the book, one wants to say, do not reject it or the method because you do not understand the language or do not think of your bodies in this way....

  7. Chapter 5 Mirror, Mirror . . .
    (pp. 73-89)

    Mirrors made by polishing metal surfaces have been in use for centuries, beginning with ancient Egypt, where the aristocracy had gold, silver, and bronze mirrors as early as 2500 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era). However, mirrors as we now know them were first created in Venice, Italy, in the sixteenth century. They were made of glass with a backing of tin-and-mercury amalgam. Glass that is coated with a silver backing came into use in the nineteenth century,circa1840.

    Interesting as this is, it isn’t mirrors themselves, their history, or their composition that are at issue in the following assessment...

  8. Chapter 6 Imagery and Habit
    (pp. 90-100)

    In the last chapter, I argued that there are differentkindsof imagery important to the teaching of dancing. I focused on an important distinction between mirror imagery (outside the body) and kinesthetic imagery (internalized imagery) inside the body. Of the three definitions of image we began with, we have dealt with two: 1. mirror images and 2. the notion of idea or mental picture. The third definition of the word image inWebster’s Internationalis the following:

    7. Something concrete or abstract introduced (as in a poem or speech) to represent something else which it strikingly resembles or suggests...

  9. Chapter 7 More about Teaching Dancing
    (pp. 101-118)

    There are features of any class in ballet and modern concert dancing (including ballroom dancing at a competitive level) that are, in my opinion, liabilities. These liabilities are inherent, first, in the composition of most, if not all, dance classes of any kind. Classes are usually divided, first, into age groups, then into beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes. These designators serve to divide different age groups into units according to an individual’s familiarity with an idiom of dancing as well as their ability level, recognizing how many years they have studied, and such. But, in any given class in the...