Recently retired and pursuing their passion for ‘Strictly’ and the dance floor, a couple signed up last year to take the Gokhale Method postural health course with me. Unlike the majority of people who contact me, they were not suffering with back pain or some other physical discomfort, but they had hit a wall with their dancing. “Our Latin American teacher says we have the steps, and the rhythm, but we can’t get our hips and our poise right. She thinks you can help.”
Their teacher had seen Esther Gokhale’s footage of Brazilian Samba dancing on YouTube, and read about how the key characteristics of natural posture underpin good dance form.
Esther Gokhale was trained in Indian dance as a girl, and through her pioneering work with posture and back pain has noticed how traditional dance forms across the world, including African dance, Irish and Scottish and even classical ballet, maintain and emphasise the length and support of the spine. This seemingly effortless verticality of the torso remains a baseline in many traditional dances, while the shoulder and hip joints articulate freely.
Another characteristic is that the pelvis is freely suspended underneath the spine, and thus able to articulate at the lumbosacral joint. This makes possible the rapid pelvic movements of some African dance, or the smooth rolling of the hips in belly dancing.
By contrast, people in the industrialised world have become conditioned to tucking the pelvis under, gripping around their hip joints, and either slumping their spines in a C-shape or holding their spines up in an exaggerated S-shape which compresses the lumbar area.
In traditional cultures, body wisdom remains intact and is joyfully and healthily expressed in dance. In the modern world we often get into habits and ways of moving which cause wear and tear and pain. Learning some ‘Strictly Primal’ posture is a great step forward!
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