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  1. #1
    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    Default Visualisation in learning movement?

    Last night at my first class in nearly a year, something new came across and that in how a movement is executed correctly and this movement was explained by being asked to imagine another perhaps more mundane action. The result, Wow, this works and I have never considered this method before, but maybe visualisation is the key for me at least as directional instructions have always been kind of fraught, as in the past I just couldn't get it, now I can and that because visualisation appeals to me.

    So, of others in learning movement, is movement visualisation any use to you ?

    But of those that perform this art, what goes through your mind when you perform, what is your mind seeing as you dance ?

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    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    For me, no, but there are a lot of visual learners out there & it's a useful technique. If nothing else it lightens the mood when students have a giggle at some of the descriptions!
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    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Visualisation is what works for me (no really, are you sure you aren't me? ).

    It's not my teacher's main way of teaching, so I've discovered it for myself. Like walking with horizontal 8s; to start with I couldn't even get my head round front-to-back vs. back-to-front. It sounds daft now but there was a real block somewhere between brain and body. Then walking... eek! It clicked when I imagined I was moving along a narrow path between two high parallel walls, and I had to move myself forwards or backwards by using hips against the walls.

    I also find it really helpful to think about moves in terms of what my skeleton should be doing - what is moving, what is still, where pivot points are... and when things are drawing shapes in space. I had a 2 minute revelation on Soheir Zaki style hips with a shape analogy - describe what is being layered on what else and my brain seizes up, show me and I'm not sure how it works - but a shape - LIGHTBULB MOMENT! Workshop gold.

    Once I've got the hang of a movement and practised and really got it into muscle memory I can leave the visualisation behind.

    It is very useful to know what works for you. I don't think left and right in choreo's either... more "need to step on foot that is upstage and stick same arm out". If I stop and think can translate it into left or right, but the spatial thing is more direct.

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    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    Interesting you should mention the skeleton thing, because when I first started this dance, I used to draw crude artist style skeletons on paper showing the pivot points and the directions they took to complete the movement. An idea from this was to create a video showing how to dance as a skeleton, just a line drawing on an uncoloured background because to me the many ME dance instruction video's I have, my mind gets lost in detail. What someone looks like, what they are wearing and like a magpie, anything shiny focuses my attention away from what I should be seeing, it was therefore my understanding that dance instruction videos were less about instruction and more about the respective dancer's self promotion.But anyway though such an instructional moving image would have been a good idea for me at least, I lack the necessary skills to create the thing.Anyone reading with the skills to produce ?

  5. #5
    Member Pleasant dancer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by khanjar View Post

    But of those that perform this art, what goes through your mind when you perform, what is your mind seeing as you dance ?
    Oh wow, that got me thinking! I'm not sure my mind "sees" anything when I dance, except the audience and perhaps what they are thinking. I do an awful lot of "thinking" though, on the next movement in a choreo, or what to do next in an improv, a lot of listening to the music, reading the audience's mood etc. Far too much thinking in a short space of time to even remember or acknowledge! There's quite a lot of feeling going on too, with some particular pieces of music. It's really quite difficult for me to describe/analyse.

    I do use visualisation when I create choreography for my students though, in order to let them know exactly what was in my mind regarding the mood of the piece, the spatial patterns etc. And I have found it useful for some students when verbal directions and my demonstration have failed for them. And it can be a giggle for everyone else, as Darshiva remarked.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Duvet's Avatar
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    The best visual aid I was given was to imagine myself moving through honey -this really helped me visualize that slight resistence and muscle tension in the movement (as if you are pushing the honey out of the way), and the need to maintain intent throughout a move (otherwise the honey goes solid).

    Other visualizations I've found useful;
    Vertical 8s are executed as if standing in a narrow passageway; undulations are as if your back is against a wall;, anti-bobbing it achieved by imagining you are in a room with a low ceiling; smooth travelling is as if you are carrying something on your head - but you can actually organise your space so that these visualizations are real environmental constraints.
    Other ones are horizontal 8s are drawing an 8 on the floor with your hips (or, as a friend says, drawing an 8 with a pencil stuck up your fundament); camels involve your hips scooping up ice-cream and then dropping it into a bowl; keeping your pelvis level is to imagine it as a bowl of soup which you don't want to spill, whatever your movement; hip pushes as if you are shutting the car door while your arms are full of shopping.

    Most other moves I think I just feel - either actually touching myself to feel where my body is moving (e.g. in belly rolls and chest movements), or by sensing the move (e.g. shoulder rolls and hip circles).

    Visualization while dancing - I might be visualizing the next move in the choreography (if I'm following one) and whether my body is in the right place to execute it smoothly; I might be thinking about the potential within the choreography to change it depending on the needs of the situation I'm in, the room shape or unexpected obstacles; I might be visualizing the audience and their reaction (I normally wear glasses, but remove them when dancing so depending on the distance I might only be seeing fuzzy shapes), whether I need to smile more, project more, get closer, what does that person feel like, what does that side of the room feel like, look up, am I still smiling?; if I'm in a troupe I need to visualize the space around me and where the others are in relation to me inorder to make sure I'm not infront or behind someone, or about to fall off the stage; if I'm improvizing or working on a piece, then I visualize the music - whether the notes are going up, down, in circles, ripples, zig-zags, or are stretching, sharp, soft, static, is the music heavy or light, where does it go in my body, etc, and react with whatever move feels right; if I'm aiming to create a performance piece I need to visualize where the audience will be, what space I'll have, whether what I'm doing will be visible, pleasant to watch or too repetitive, whether any potential co-dancers can also do a particular move, or can do something even better, etc.

    Phew! - when I started writing this, I thought that I didn't think a great deal while I danced, but good grief!! Where on earth did all that come from? There are times when I do dance without thinking about it. Those are the best times.

  7. #7
    Member Shakti's Avatar
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    One visualzation that I use in addition to some already mentioned is to imagine that I am holding one egg in each arm pit..don't drop the egg and don't break the egg. This helps in reminding to keep your chest open and shoulders back and down and arms from resting at the sides. I guess the concept reminds me to use the muscles in the chest and shoulder to create nice upper body posture no matter what position the arms are in.

    When I dance my mind wanders from counting the beats, feeling the dynamics of the music, and regrouping my posture.

    Good topic Khanjar!

  8. #8
    Junior Member Za Linda's Avatar
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    Default works for me too

    from
    Quote Originally Posted by Aniseteph View Post

    Once I've got the hang of a movement and practised and really got it into muscle memory I can leave the visualisation behind.

    It is very useful to know what works for you. I don't think left and right in choreo's either... more "need to step on foot that is upstage and stick same arm out". If I stop and think can translate it into left or right, but the spatial thing is more direct.
    Absolutely the same here. I don't even know L from R half the time but will follow them as directions in a written choreo. Until they are second nature. Using a particular visualisation to train the muscles and bones works well for me.

    Do others here know of this book? I borrowed it from a library recently: "Conditioning for Dance - training for peak performance in all dance forms" by Eric Franklin, with illustrations showing "embodied imagery" - imagining forces and tendons acting in particular planes or directions like big rubber bands. Very interesting, probably ideal for ballet and jazz, but unfortunately not that relevant for the kinds of moves we do in bellydance. (I have no need to extend a leg to eye level...)

    My teacher uses imagery though, that is relevant! "Shut the door" when performing hip pushes to one side...very effective.

  9. #9
    Moderator Daimona's Avatar
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    Instructors needs tools to explain the various moves to students with different learning styles in order to effectively teach their students, whether they are right/left brainers or have visual/auditory/tactile learning styles etc, but I am afraid many teachers forget about this.

    Now as this thread are about the visual, I once got a beautiful image from a now retired movement therapist and dancer for horizontal figure 8s:
    "Imagine you are Winnie the Pooh inside a big jar of honey. The jar is almost empty, and you'll have to lick the honey of the sides of the jar with your hips."
    --
    Daim.

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Personally I don't visualize, I feel my body; I'm after how the muscle tension and relaxation feels. But when I teach I do use visualizations - cleaning the toffee barrel with horizontal circles; closing the door hip slides; spotting someone attractive for rib lifts; mental floss for head slides etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by khanjar View Post
    Interesting you should mention the skeleton thing, because when I first started this dance, I used to draw crude artist style skeletons on paper showing the pivot points and the directions they took to complete the movement. An idea from this was to create a video showing how to dance as a skeleton, just a line drawing on an uncoloured background because to me the many ME dance instruction video's I have, my mind gets lost in detail.
    I did a unit in kinesiology for my teaching certificate and this is hard! Belly dance really doesn't lend itself well to bones moving about. It takes about an A4 page to describe something as simple as a hip rock. Over 14 muscles involved working on the lumbosacral joint, lumbar vertebrae, pelvis and legs.

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