We experience this ever-present inner dance as an incredible sense of lightness and effortlessness, liberation in a sense. It feels awfully good.
It is fascinating to discover that there is a mechanism within us constantly listening, monitoring ever subtle changes in balance and in muscle tension. That happens with no conscious effort on our part. All that is expected from us is not to interfere with its workings…. by accumulating excessive muscular tension.
There is very good news for us, that rediscovering this inner dance will benefit any of our activities: yoga, professional dance or mere sitting in a chair. Stripping down layers of muscular tension allow us to experience in full this inner dance. This tension free state gives us a good taking off ground for any activity, including high level of performance. Yes, this is all about tension, whether in simple activities or in performance. Even professional dancers, with their superb coordination, tend to accumulate excessive tension through intense overuse of their body. Alexander Technique can offer these people a tool for rediscovering their “zero tension” state. This is what Alexander Technique procedures aiming for. It is all about us finding our “zero” or optimum tension in any activity. In this way, practicing at a less challenging performance level, professionals can recalibrate the necessary effort needed for performances at higher levels.
Professional dance is a performing art form, which has a symbolic, cultural and aesthetic value. It could be both an improvisation or a memorized sequence of movements. Not only professional dancers, everybody is craving this expression. It is way too powerful! Our body is seeking to dance each and every moment as soon as we shed our accumulated tension and liberate our “small dance”. We look better aesthetically. Our everyday mundane chores feel more like small pleasures. We enjoy ourselves and are more connected to our senses.
We move and function as one integrated unit. Luckily for us, it means that we don’t need to control each muscle or muscle group or each piece of us separately. It would be time consuming and simply impossible. Of course, it is still us controlling our movements, but, mostly, unconsciously. Still, these brain centres (the basal ganglia, mesencephalon and mesencephalon) are listening to signals from without. This is how Alexander teacher’s hands can communicate with the student’s body. So, when we refer to an Alexander lesson as a dance, it is not simply a metaphor. Yes, it is a partner dance at its most subtle expression. The teacher is leading, the student is following (even in table work which is a part of the lesson). The communication happens through “yielding” to teacher’s hands. It is worth mentioning here, that “yielding” underlies all five fundamental actions such as: pushing pulling, grasping, reaching and, again, yielding.
Generally speaking, all our life is a dance. Life is not only a succession of achievements. This is a process of human creative expression, including our disappointments and our enjoyment. It is said, “Life isn’t waiting for the storm to pass … it is about learning to dance in the rain.”
Optimally, in our everyday functioning we want minimal downward pressure and tension. I would like to refer here to a muscular tension pattern described by Jeremy Chance, Alexander Technique teacher. This eloquent picture speaks of itself:
head falling back, neck pushing down, rib cage collapsing, arching in the lower back, hips thrusting forward, knees locking … etc.
We probably realize just by reading this now that this patterns is way too common, too expensive to keep and too taxing on our valuable resources.