This life we's strange, painful at times, but oh so beautiful.

I am a fusion dance artist and teacher, a fire dancer, and a visual artist. I draw inspiration from nature, music, and the amazing people that come into my life. I am also a conservationist who makes jewelry and found object multimedia craft type art in my spare time (when I'm not reading, writing, or lighting things on fire and dancing around with them). I love to dance barefoot on the beach, watch the stars move inexorably across the heavens, and to laugh with the people that I love. I am currently based in Greenville SC, working with Discordia Arts to provide unique and exciting entertainment to the Upstate.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sword Dance Workshop Follow Up

Balance Practice: Shifting your weight with Swords
Sunday's sword workshop in Williamston, SC was a ton of fun!

I spent hours working on my handout for the workshop, and what was supposed to be 3 pages ended up as 5, but no one seemed to mind. Luckily, I planned a day of placing the sword on the head, taking it off, and then putting it back. 3 hours is a bit long to keep a sword on your head (ouch!).
Sword dance: Angling the body
I began the workshop with a brief discussion on what to look for when choosing a sword for sword dance, sword dance history, sword care, and sword dance safety. We moved from there onto balanced body posture, exercises for balancing, and balancing the sword on your head. With the sword on our heads, we practiced shifting our weight from one foot to the other, onto the balls of our feet, and from there to walking.

Flat rotations with the sword balanced on the palm
New sword dancers are often surprised by the weight of the sword on their head, so we took the swords off our heads and spent some time discussion body angles, framing the body with the sword, and dancing with the sword before we place it on our heads.

The sword is an extremely dynamic prop  for dancing so we spent an hour swinging the sword around, dancing to and away from the sword, isolating parts of our body while we used the sword to frame our moves, and putting all of these concepts into dance combinations. I taught some of my favorite sword dance combos with coloful names such as "shave the gypsy" and "I'm gonna wash that sword right out of my hair."

Sword Dance
Personally, I am a huge fan of spinning and turning with my sword, so I spent a good amount of time teaching spins and turns as well as some combinations of rotations with the sword balanced on the palm of the hand mixed with turns, swings, and catches to round out this section of the class. After turning with the sword in our hands, we put the sword back on our heads and did some more spinning.

I love swords for a lot of reasons. I also love dance...and I love science. In spinning with a sword on your head, I got the opportunity to have all of my loves collide and give a brief physics lecture (really brief, I know not everyone is as big a nerd as I am).  So, we spent some time learning to start spinning, and a whole lot more time learning ways to stop spinning.

So many options on where to balance a sword!
 When I first planned the workshop, I also planned a time table for everything, and amazingly enough, I stuck to it, so we had time for 30 minutes of floorwork. I started out by teaching a variety of exercises that will help strengthen and tone the muscles that are required for safe floorwork, and then we spent a little time practicing hip circles and round the worlds with the swords on our heads.

I finished off the day with a short demonstration of some of the other places where you can balance your sword (and my caveat that utilizing too many of these in one routine gets a bit kitchy) and some strong poses.

Sword Dance Poses
We stretched, happy to have the swords off of our heads. I was extremely proud of everyone who came out and worked so hard to learn the basics of sword dance - everyone did great!

Thank you to everyone in Pelzer/Williamston, for being so welcoming. Thanks to everyone else, for driving out and spending your Sunday with me. Big super duper thanks to Kim Alexander for having me. Hopefully everyone now has the tools to embrace sword dance safely and with joy!

If you want to learn sword dance, my intermediate/advanced level topics class will be starting soon in Greenville, and the first topic I will cover is sword dance!

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