Hip Open and Close: Intuitive Skill-Builder Workshop

You know how when you really know a move, you barely have to think about it, or really you don’t even think about it at all, your body just does it for you? This program will help you to build more of that body wisdom, and to cultivate it not just in moves but in the flow between moves, in transitions—in knowing, just knowing, in your body, where to go next and how to get there.

We’re looking today at cultivating body wisdom—or instinct, or intuition—specifically in the context of isolations that either open or close the hip. This tiny articulation is embedded in a great deal of vocabulary, and we are going find it it in:

  • deep knee bends
  • weighted twist open
  • weight-changing twist open
  • unweighted twist open, both in parallel and in a staggered stance
  • coming out of twist open in to a knee lift…
  • or pairing twist open together with a twist back
  • weighted push
  • staggered stance weighted twist open
  • push and weighted twist open paired with a weighted release to the back diagonal
  • push and weighted twist open paired with knee lift and twist back
  • locks
  • hip lift front
  • backwards tuck and release paired with knee lifts
  • backwards tuck and release paired with leg extensions
  • wide stance pelvic circles
  • sitting pelvic circle
  • unweighted pelvic circles
  • Egyptian-style double drop
  • undulations styled at the hip joint

Many of these movements tend to be more associated with Egyptian styling, and in general are used less out of that context, although I use them all the time. Styling at the hip is heavy, and can often be very flirty, and because I tend to also like to use a lot of more lyrical lifted movement, I rely on this kind of hipwork to keep things from getting too saccharine. Elegance is nice, but elegance without a little oomph can be bland. And for me in particular, for my body type, hipwork that is styled down here at the bottom of the pelvis is what, for me, shows the most strongly. If you are the opposite of me, if you have narrow hips and a long waist, you may find that you are more of a rim of the pelvis dancer, and tend to work more up here. But even if that’s the case, I think you will still enjoy having these moves to add in once and a while for variety and texture.

If you need practice with these movements, you can use the technique flow today for that purpose, but I put this program together primarily for dancers who have already done the work of internalizing great technique. This is a program to help you level up, and what happens at that next level is that you are going to hand over the steering wheel to the body, and let body lead. If the body doesn’t really know what it’s doing yet, then I would say allowing it to lead is not the greatest idea. If you are still practicing, it’s a good idea to also participate up here, remembering instructions, searching out ideas, considering options, making decisions, evaluating your cleanness, evaluating your precision… But if that work is done, then we can and we should progress, and our next step is to wire up a somatic program that reliably delivers us straight to good dance choices, in real time, on the spot, with minimal effort.

To get instinctively coherent, instinctively deft, we need to train the body to recognize deep connections and to navigate through movements through these connections. For this program in particular, we’re going to use purposefully sequenced repetition to build a maximally-efficient somatic organizational schema around hip open and hip close. Once this body wisdom is in place, you are likely to see very dramatic, very sudden results: in your strength as a performer, in confidence, in relaxation, in expressive personal style. You will gain a kind of fluency that applies to a whole movement category, so any fine-tuning done on one isolation will translate as better command of every isolation that shares the open-close articulation, and you’ll be increasingly able to improvise comfortable and visually interesting pathways from one isolation into the next. The look of your dancing will improve, because you will have changed the way your dancing feels: you are going to unlock increasing fluidity with progressively decreasing effort.

Length: 1 hour 26 minutes; includes warm up.

Hip Open and Close Video Bookmarks

2:34 Concepts Overview–Hip Joint Articulation
9:54 Warmup
20:22 Sit Back and Weighted Twist Open Breakdown
21:12 Sit Back and Weighted Twist Open Technique Flow
24:35 2: Hip Circle Breakdown
25:09 Hip Circle Technique Flow
28:15 Twist Open Breakdown
29:36 Twist Open Technique Flow
35:57 Push and Lock Breakdown
37:38 Push and Lock Technique Flow
49:09 Lift Breakdown
50:04 Lift Technique Flow
55:18 6: Backwards Tuck Breakdown
57:48 Backwards Tuck Technique Flow
1:02:43 7: Unweighted Circle and Egyptian Drop Breakdown
1:04:10 Unweighted Circle and Egyptian Drop Technique Flow
1:09:53 8: Undulation Breakdown
1:11:33 Undulation Technique Flow
1:18:37 Recap

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