Magazine article Dance Magazine

Sit Down: Gyrokinesis Uses Spirals to Work on the Spine

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Sit Down: Gyrokinesis Uses Spirals to Work on the Spine

Article excerpt

Lydia Hance's supple spine and high-volume dancing are evident in Context, her latest work, which combines dynamic curves with highly defined shapes. Hance, artistic director of Houston-based Frame Dance Productions, attributes her flexibility to regular Gyrokinesis classes.

Many dancers find they benefit from Gyrokinesis. It was created by Juliu Horvath, who also devised the Gyrotonic system. While Gyrotonic uses equipment to build strength and flexibility, Gyrokinesis focuses on the articulation of the spine, and all you need is a stool and a mat. Both are conditioning systems that start with tiny movements designed to wake the body up and progress to larger, more energetic exercises, delivering a thorough warm-up over 60 to 90 minutes.

Anjali Austin finds that her students at Florida State University benefit from her Gyrokinesis classes on several levels. "Gyrokinesis was developed with the special needs of a dancer in mind," says Austin, a former member of Dance Theatre of Harlem. "The rhythmic and circular quality of the work, along with attention to breathing, really speaks to dancers." The curling, arching, and twisting exercises are movements found in contemporary choreography. The more a dancer can articulate her spine, the more the spine can act as a shock absorber, protecting the lower body. This leads to greater freedom in the hips, hamstrings, and lower back.

Dancers rarely get a chance to focus on their spinal articulation free of the heavy work of the legs. "The dancers sit on a stool. That allows them to get off their legs and focus on their spinal mobility, warming up from the inside out," says Austin.

Doing Gyrokinesis before class prepares the body for the day. "It's a physical and mental warm-up, so by the time the students are in class they are ready to take risks," says Austin. "Because Gyrokinesis activates weaker muscles, dancers learn to work more efficiently and economically. …

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