At Dance Stables we strongly believe that the floor is your friend and we love to see floor work infused into choreography and class work.
Floor work is movements danced on the floor, and can be seen in a lot of Contemporary Dance and Breakdancing. In floor work, the dancer changes their relationship between gravity and their body, moving between different levels - from high to low - as they move. Floor work can be seen in dance performances as early as 1911, in the work of Isadora Duncan and continued by Martha Graham, who we mention later in this blog. Used in a safe, controlled way, the floor really enhances our dancing and here are 5 reasons why we think the floor really is our friend.
Grounding and Posture
We often use the analogy of a tree, connected with the ground through its roots, to describe a dancers connection with the floor. The movement, much like the tree, does not end at the floor or ground, yet continues to grow and expand. This image helps dancers to lengthen their posture and stand tall, while keeping a sense of grounding. This is especially evident when dancing bare feet, and we gain a real connection with the floor through this touch. In turn, this sense of grounding can work as a therapeutic and creative tool, often seen in Dance Movement Psychotherapy, to strengthen an individuals connection to their bodies and emotions. This connection can also enhance the movement quality and performance too.
A firm, flat floor is the perfect resistance to support your body and help your body to relax, in stillness and movement. This support assists your body to move fluidly through dance and enable dancers to identify areas of tightness which they may need to develop and open. Moshe Feldenkrais, the founder of the Feldenkrais Method - a system that aims to improve human functioning though awareness of movement , says “Through awareness, we can learn to move with astonishing lightness and freedom at almost any age”, and we couldn’t agree more.
Maintaining contact with the floor and applying pressure, enables dancers to fully articulate movements in their feet and the whole body. There are a number of dance steps that are successfully performed through varied applied pressure with the floor, eg. The waltz step in Ballet. The floor pressure and shifts in body weight, allow the dancer to perform in a 3/4 tempo. This can be seen in more complex time signatures too and heightened the sense of musicality through movement.
See DS Teacher Natasha’s Foot Strengthening exercises on our YouTube channel, for tips on how to improve your ability for your feet to connect with the floor.
4. Strength and Resilience
Our connection with the floor helps to build strength and resilience in our muscles. Just as we learnt as children, we have the ability to get up and down smoothly, thus moving in and out of the floor. As in child development, this repeated movement develops our core strength, balancing skills and muscle definition. The floor will help you develop into a strong, versatile mover.
5. Expand your movement vocabulary
Floor work helps to expand your movement vocabulary and performance quality. At the dawn of Contemporary Dance, the use of the floor was pioneered in the work of Martha Graham, which opened up more diversity of movement. Her work is still taught to dancers today, and gives a sense of grounding and opening through movement. We now see dancers use the floor in an array of dance styles including; Contemporary Dance, Hip Hop, Ballet and more.
Check out DS Teacher, Eliza on our YouTube channel, who is giving lots of ideas and tips for floor-work choreography, as she guides you through seven floor-work tricks. Please make sure you are lots of space around you before giving these a go.
At Dance Stables we incorporate lots of floor work in our children and adult lessons, and can be experienced especially in our Contemporary Dance, Street Dance, Gymnastics and Ballet Fitness classes. Want to find out more information about what we offer, please get in touch via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There floor is there to support and strengthen you in your movement, to help you grow and stand tall. All real qualities of a true friend!