Listen Up! It’s Your Dance Teacher! Balancing Out The Issue Of Balancing.

18 Jan

I’m so proud of my Balletone students. I’ve got such a mix. Women in their twenties all the way to women in their seventies! I even have a student who is 80 years old! All of us have different abilities, but one thing we all share is the struggle to achieve and maintain balance, whether holding a static pose or flowing from one move to the next.

Thirty years of studying, performing and teaching dance have taught me an important reality; what one feels internally (sense of balance wise) and what appears externally (a separate entity, say a dance teacher’s view) don’t always match up. That is to say, just because you feel like you have absolutely no balance and are wobbling every which way and will always and forever be unable to nail the whole balancing thing is, well, inaccurate. You are most likely doing a hell of a lot better than you think you are. You feel wonky as all get out because your brain is processing a gazillion pieces of data from your nervous system. It does not mean you actually are wonky as all get out to an observer, especially one with a trained eye.

Over the years teaching ballet to beginning adults and teens I have pointed this concept out. Especially when it’s time to work on pirouettes (“to whirl about”, usually a step executed on one leg,  balanced on the ball of the foot. I’ve often referred to pirouettes as balances that  spin). “When you go up for the turn you will probably fell like this ‘Bleee^%*#@ck!’ (picture me with my arms waving wildly above my head)”. Then I usually give a little speech about how I can’t see what they are feeling, and to trust me, I am a professional.

I point this out because sometimes I worry that people will deem themselves hopeless in the task of balancing and transitioning weight from movement to movement. There is so much to be gained by challenging one’s self in such endeavors. Gaining body intelligence and awareness, agility, grace, strength not to mention how such challenges help with brain health.

Let’s take a look at some of the hardware that is part of the balancing equation.

Anatomy of the ear

Within the ear is the inner ear. Duh, Erin.

In the inner ear there are semicircular canals. These canals are filled with a fluid called endolymph, and the fluid has motion sensors in it. You’ll notice that each of the three canals are at different angles from one another, so they can register differing angles of movement. There’s a bunch of other cool gear in there as well.

Okay, sit in a swivel chair and spin around really fast. Stop. Stand up quickly, bend over and touch your toes. Jump from foot to foot while swinging your head side to side. Now pick yourself up off the floor. Just kidding. Don’t do any of those things. But just thinking about all those actions gives you some examples of what the anatomy of the inner ear is processing. It’s a lot. It’s a lot for the brain to register, store and then set the process for recalling stored info for future use. How do you get better at balancing? By trying to balance. That’s one of the reasons they spin the crap out of astronauts in training. To help the brain adjust to the difference between what the eyes see and what the inner ears “see”. The best way to combat dizziness from turning is to, well, turn. A bunch. Pretty much for the same reasons.

 This dog is ready to launch!

So take it easy on yourself. It takes time to develop a strong and consistent sense of balance, especially when doing more complex moves. Enjoy the journey.

“Just give a giggle when you wiggle.”

Here’s a post about pelvic alignment from my other blog.

You can go geek-lite and click on this link to read about equilibrioception.

Thanks for reading.

Enjoy the dance that is life!


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