Teaching Tip: Working in a Systematic Way
By Clare Guss-West, Director of the Dance & Creative Wellness Foundation
There is, in general, a lack of a systematic attention and focus strategy or of consistent mental training for dancers, in comparison to the heavy emphasis placed on physical training. Mental training would provide much-needed complementary tools to lighten the physical demands of technique and, at the same time, enhance available energy, power and cognitive potential.
This is the training of the inner skills of dance that would further enhance and liberate movement and give dancers the edge in their performance. Science and traditional Eastern wisdom agree that emphasizing physical and muscular control in the absence of a foundation of attention and focus training means that performers are working inefficiently. Many dancers potentially deploy excessive energy and significant counterproductive effort that can lead to global movement dysfunction, lack of stamina, exhaustion and increased risk of injury. Attentional focus training is perhaps then the most relevant study that sports science and Eastern movement practice can bring to dance.
Learn more from Clare Guss-West in her book, Attention and Focus in Dance.
Trained as a classical and contemporary dancer and musician, Clare began choreographing with American composer Philip Glass and was resident choreographer and director at English National Opera. She has done productions for Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera and Ballet, Dutch National Opera and Ballet, Royal Opera House, BBC Proms and Opéra de Paris.