Imagery was part of my dance training although I did not think of it as movement or dance imagery at the time. It was just something we incorporated into our training and performance. When I first took part in a movement/dance imagery workshop with Eric Franklin at an IADMS (International Association for Dance Medicine & Science) conference many years ago I was reminded of how important imagery is in dance learning and teaching.
Articles and books
In recent years there has been an increasing amount of articles and books promoting the positive use of imagery in training, rehearsal and performance. Although imagery has been around for a very long time it is still relatively new to some. We can learn a lot from the study and use of imagery in our teaching.
Mabel Todd’s wonderful book The Thinking Body, first published in 1937 (and still available today), tells us on page 295: Continue reading →
Dancing in my head was the topic of a post I wrote back in 2012 and I thought it is time to say something more about this exciting topic.
What I refer to as, dancing in my head, is often called mental practise or mental rehearsal. In dance this mental practise involves imagining that one is in the dance environment performing the desired dance task or tasks. One aspect that I find works really well for me when dancing in my head, is rhythm. Going through the step or movement in rhythm in my head helps me to get the right feel of the dance, step or movement. Feeling the rhythm in my head is the same as feeling it in my feet or body when I dance it or teach it.
Mental rehearsal is a good way to get steps, movements or a dance clear in your head before you physically perform them.. Take Highland dancing for example, dancing a new step or a new link from one movement to another, in your head reduces the amount of energy needed and hopping that needs to be done. In fact, Highland is a dance genre where teaching your students about mental rehearsal or dancing in their head can really benefit their performance. Competitive Highland dancers and other competitive dancers of course, can gain from ‘dancing in their head’ as part of their training regime for competitions.
I like to explore using a variety of ways to achieve the end goal and mental rehearsal is one that you might find helps your dancers to focus on how to practise and get the most from that practise.
Whatever dance genre/s you teach why not consider encouraging ‘dancing in your head’ for your students and see what they make of doing regular, mental practise?
Remember to read my previous post on this topic for more information.
I have always been a fan of dancing in my head. I was always encouraged to use imagery to help me to get the feel of a step or movement. And I find it helps me to clarify movements, steps or dances. In many ways it feels as if I am dancing it for real. And because it feels like this I can mark things through or do a full-blown performance in my head. What I find interesting about this is that studies in performance psychology show that there is real value in mentally rehearsing as well as physically rehearsing. So when I feel as if I am dancing in my head it is because this process has a physical response too.
I might be dancing in my head but the muscles that I use to perform the movements fire up in a similar way when I am dancing for real. Professional athletes and sports people use this type of mental rehearsal a lot. Professional footballers, such as, will mentally rehearse taking a penalty and when they do this it is as if they are actually taking the penalty. They will go through the process in their head seeing and feeling it all as if they were on the pitch taking a real penalty. The connection between mental and physical rehearsal and performance is a valuable tool to have and to use.