Category Archives: Injury

The Floor Is Your Friend: The Model Critic Reviews

Zena Rommett–Floor–Barre Technique–For Teachers
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Reviewed by Carlos Stafford, The Model Critic
 City Center, NYC, recently hosted a teacher’s training program for the Zena Rommett Floor–Barre Technique. Teachers, and those wanting to be certified, came from many places on the globe to review their methods and to learn anew. The morning I attended, master teacher Charlotte Furst from Sweden gave a very clear and calm class to attentive students.
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Zena Rommett Floor–Barre Technique has been with us for almost fifty years. A former ballerina, Ms. Rommett first taught her methods at the Joffrey School of American Ballet; the technique essentially gives ballet dancers barre training on the floor, thereby eliminating the intrusion of gravity and balance in developing neurological pathways in the body.
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Ballet, and dance in general, requires certain physical necessities– alignment, turnout,  and lengthening, for example.  Tendu’s, coupe’s, passe’s, and degage’s with pointed or flexed feet can be slowly practiced on the floor to give the dancer the desired placement.
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I sat and watched class with Camille Rommett, Zena’s gracious daughter who heads up the Foundation.  Camille schooled me on some of the finer points as the class progressed, and told me that Zena always gave dancers what they needed, not what she knew. They never use the term “stretch” as I inadvertently spoke, but preferred the term, lengthening, as in the spine, back of the legs, and arms.
The devotee’s since the 1960′s have continued to be enthusiastic, and the technique has been a favorite of many past and present stars: Judith Jamison, Lars Lubovitch, Tommy Tune, and Patrick Swayze, to name a few luminaries. At present, Camille said this method is being taught worldwide, and on numerous colleges campuses and national dance studios.  Next month they’ll offer another teacher’s training in Florence, Italy.
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Basically, while working slowly on the floor, nothing is set to chance.  At the barre, things may move quickly and the student may get used to working improperly, and develop bad habits; on the floor there is a lack of tension, and without music, the dancer, along with an aware teacher, can focus of his or her needs.  Incidentally, this technique has been used  as a rehabilitation method for those who have injuries too. It’s easy to see how effective this method would be for someone who has had a knee or ankle injury, for example, and wants to activate and strengthen those areas.
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Camille also said that Zena emphasized transitions as well. Having been a ballerina, she well understood the necessity of linking movements together with proper alignment. Ms. Furst underscored this by coaxing the students to relax during their movements, not to struggle, and to become more fluid, with a strong center and relaxed face.
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For those who don’t have studios nearby that offer these classes, many DVD’s are available for the young dancer, the professional, elders, and injured.  I’m a convert, and consider this technique very valuable for dancers and non-dancers alike.  Why would anybody not want the effects of a longer, stronger, and balanced body?
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Dance: Ankle Stability Help

Just like the core, dancers need to focus on feet for strength and stability

Simply start standing on one leg during the day.  As often as you can during the day simply stand on one leg, bend the knees slightly making sure that your arches are activated, your big toe is still in contact with the ground and your knee cap is over the second toe.  If this is easy, try closing your eyes.  By challenging your balance frequently during the day you will increase the responsiveness of the little muscles and ligaments around your feet and ankles and this can help to stabilize them.

~ Lisa Howell, Physiotherapist specializing in educating dancers

For more information about Lisa’s work click the link above or visit:  http://perfectpointe.wordpress.com/about/

Want to read more about Core Strength?  Click here:  Dance: The Answer to the Core Question

Belinda Mello – Alexander Technique Teacher NYC

Circa late 90s.  Preparing for my Shakespearean début as Hypolita in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (revised and expanded thanks to Theseus sharing his lines).  Outdoor free theatre for the Hudson River Festival, New York City.  Scary.

The performance was taking place  at Pier 64 with nothing but a floating houseboat for sound resonance and “bounce back” on top of which was, of course, surrounded by water which tends to consume sound.   Approximate number of audience attending per evening:  400.

I did not have a big voice.  I am gratefully a dancer.  I was unfortunately a nervous Nellie.  I was also rehab-ing a very serious sports injury which was affecting my normal ease of movement.  I needed coaching to sustain my physical choreography and voice projection without strain.  To the rescue – the wonderful Belinda Mello.

I had already been learning the basics of the technique with Belinda, a virtual encyclopedia of Movement knowledge, patient and generous.  But her real strength was the simplicity of her coaching and translation of so much material into a moment, an emotion, a breath, a movement.

So below I’ve added her bio to my blog.  We have thankfully stayed in touch over the years and I am excited to have her here on my page.  My personal experience with Belinda was extraordinary.  And if you are currently residing in New York City I suggest you “get thee to her class immediately” for every reason – performer or not.

Belinda Mello – Alexander Technique Teacher

About Belinda Mello - Alexander Technique Teacher

“Belinda Mello is my first recommendation for an Alexander Technique teacher in New York”.

—Bill Conable,
Teaching Member, AmSAT, ATI; originator of Body Mapping

Belinda Mello, certified Alexander Technique teacher since 1989, is a member of ATI, ATME and is an associate member of ACAT. She studied with master teacher Marjorie Barstow, her postgraduate studies include the Carrington approach with John Nichols, and an on-going exchange with Dr. William Conable. She has led workshops and group classes at many locations, notably the New York Open Center, Soho Center for the Alexander Technique, LIU Physical Rehabilitation Center and Spoke the Hub Re-Creation Center. She has given workshops specifically for Licensed Massage Therapists at the Swedish Institute of Massage Therapy and for the American Association of Massage Therapists.

About Belinda Mello - Alexander Technique TeacherBelinda currently teaches movement for actors in the CUNY/Brooklyn College Theatre Department She has been a guest lecturer and workshop leader at other conservatory and college programs including the New Actors Workshop, NYU Undergraduate Theater Department, Musical Theater Workshop, Muhlenberg College and for theater companies including the Jean Cocteau Repertory and Aching Dogs Rep. In 1995-97 she co-founded the Alexander Project for the Performing Arts with vocal coach Leann Overton as a vehicle for teaching the Alexander Technique to opera singers and classical voice students. She is presently working on an article about the training of actors with her colleague, Teva Bjerken.

About Belinda Mello - Alexander Technique Teacher
Belinda Mello draws on her background in theater, dance and movement analysis. She has a MFA in Directing, continues to direct new and devised works and has recently been part of team developing an original musical play. She has served as a movement coach and movement dramaturg on productions at the Gershwin Theater, the Tribeca Performing Arts Center and the Women’s Project. Belinda has worked with directors and playwrights such as Anne Bogart, Tony Kushner, Wendy Woodson and has studied mask with Per Brahe. She has performed at The Istanbul International Theater Festival, St. Mark’s Church/Danspace, The Yard, Bread and Puppet Resurrection Circus.

Belinda has danced throughout her life and has performed with Eva Dean and Elise Long. The foundation of her dance and movement education includes ballet, modern dance technique at the Cunningham and Hawkins studios as well as African Dance, Contact Improvisation, Laban’s Effort/Shape analysis, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Ideokinesis, Choreography, and a brief venture into trapeze dance. She has studied Body Mind Centering with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and co-authored a published study on posture as part of her undergraduate degree at Hampshire College. She continues to pursue her interest in movement through Yoga and the masks she creates for performance and workshops.