Michael Kelly Bruce, a professor of dance here at OSU visited with us for the second time on Friday. In his first discussion, he led us through an exploration of the spine. It was amazing to hear about and tp feel how the many parts of the spine work and to discover more about my own back flexibility. MKB also began to instruct us about body mapping.
Body mapping is a really relaxing way to learn about how one’s personal body works. Through body mapping, one can tune into the body on a much more in-depth level. One can see the natural way which the body wants to accomplish movements and, if that is an incorrect method, begin to work to change it.
When MKB came most recently, we focused less on the spine and more on working the legs properly. We did several exercises on the floor, going through tendu, second position, etc. I felt that it was really helpful for me because it allowed me to tap into the strength I have in the backs of my legs that are so very important to me as a dancer. Unfortunately, I tend to forget about them and have been working the wrong muscle groups. I have a lot of tightness in my hips, and I think much of that comes from over-working in the front of my thighs and gripping through my superficial hip muscles.
Body wellness is so especially important to dancers because our bodies are our tools. Just like painters use brushes to create masterpieces, we use our bodies to paint all over the blank canvas of the stage. If our bodies are not well, we cannot perform at optimum levels. Being in tune with our natural movement pathways, tendencies, and bad habits can help to prevent injuries in the future. Body wellness ties into all aspects of life – nutrition and diet, lifestyle, exercise – we need to make sure that we are living in a manner that promotes wellness and the longevity of our invaluable tools.
Most importantly, we must remember that despite differences in our bodies and struggles with body image and self-worth, we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” When we were little, my mom used to read my brother and I a book entitled, Designed by God, So I Must Be Special. I have tried to allow that to resonate within me as I continue to grow up. I may not have the “perfect body” or “perfect lines,” but my Creator made me, and He doesn’t make mistakes. My value lies in Him, and I am valuable to Him. That makes me special. Knowing that I was created on purpose and with a purpose calls me to keep my body well. I view it as a form of worship to honor God by keeping the tool that He blessed me with in good health.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” – Romans 12:1