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Krishna's Thoughts

Krishna’s Mailbag #2

AUDIO: Another installment of Krishna’s mailbag, where we learn some of Krishna’s thoughts on practicing between classes. (on SoundCloud)

Transcript:

Hi, everybody. It is time for another one of Krishna’s Mailbag, where I read questions from those folks in the Dark Room Ballet community. Everybody, who’s a part, let’s find out what’s in the bag today. Okay, here’s a message. And it says, “Krishna, what’s the best way for me to practice between classes?” This is an amazing question, and it’s a question that I get all the time. And it’s a question that I love to get, because practicing is all part of learning how to dance, getting used to being in the groove for practicing. I have been practicing dance daily for years and years and years. In fact, if I don’t dance for a day, I feel very, very weird.

Here’s some tips on practicing. Let’s say you remember a little bit of a combination that you did in class. I send out maybe a secret email after the class you’ve taken with the song that I used. You can always try and figure out, from your memory, the movements as it works with the song, because you have the song right there in the email for you to try. Let’s say you don’t quite remember, but you’d like to remember. There are recordings of class. You can always contact Alejandra and say, “Hey, I would really like a recording from class to listen to again.”

Let’s say you remember a little bit, but not a lot. You can also work through movements of your own understanding. Let’s say you’re thinking about your en croix leg pattern or your alternating-legs leg pattern. Think about all the different leg movements you can use in those patterns and just practice. Just get a feel, try to replicate the feelings that you do when you’re in class. You can try those leg patterns with your tendu, with your degage, with your pique, with your developpe, with your frappe. There’s no end. You can also think about using your own music and making your own combinations. This is something that I started to do very early on in my dance learning because I was so inspired by the movement combinations and music that I would experience in class, that I would be to try things on my own, make up my own things for myself to have fun with.

Fun is so key here. Fun is so key. And let me tell you something. For every minute that I spend teaching you folks in class, dancing as a professional in rehearsal, preparing lessons, taking formal classes, for every minute that I am working on formalized technique, I am probably also spending a minute in dance for fun and play. If you just want to feel movement in your body, listening to any music you want, or no music, or just the sounds of the world around you, birds maybe, that’s something that I listened to all the time, and just be in dance play. Be curious about the feelings that you have as you experiment with movement.

There’s something else we do a lot in class, and that is thinking about character or narrative or story or setting. Use those as jumping off points for play. And when I say play, what I mean is take the dancer that you are today, with all of the knowledge you have about balancing, about stabilization and mobilization, about connecting to the floor and staying oriented with it, and just playing in that world, making any kind of movement that you want, whatever feels authentic to you in the moment with the technique knowledge that you have today.

Does that mean you need to limit yourself to ballet movements? Absolutely not. If you want to make a dance where you are laying on the floor, that is a great idea. And it’s something that I really recommend for everyone to try at least once. Play dance is what really can help you grow in your relationship to music, in your relationship to performance, as an art form. Never be afraid to play. And with that, all of you have a wonderful day. Keep practicing your ballet technique. Keep thinking about how movement feels in your body, and never be afraid to play and have fun and have a spirit of curiosity in your study.

Categories
Krishna's Thoughts

Krishna’s Mailbag #1

AUDIO: Krishna discusses her educational background and the idea behind Dark Room Ballet. (on SoundCloud)

Transcript:

Hi, everybody! This is Krishna… and the Dark Room Ballet mailbag! Let’s see if there is anything interesting in the mailbag today.

(shakes bag)

Well I have here a very popular question, which is “Tell us a little bit about your own personal education, Krishna. How did you come up with Dark Room Ballet?”

All right, here is my own personal education. My education as a ballet dancer comes through Royal Academy of Dance, which I started studying when I was three. I also have an undergraduate degree from Barnard College which is the women’s college at Columbia University, and I have a Master’s of Education, and that would be elementary grade education, from Hunter College. I also have a special certification through the American College of Sports Medicine, I actually have multiple certifications through ACSM, and I have a specialty in biomechanics.

What is biomechanics, you might ask? Biomechanics is the application of mechanical science to structures of the human body. Lots of third class levers in the human body, and that is something that I know quite a lot about.

So, that is my educational background. So if you combine all of those things together, my many, many, many years of ballet study, my education background, and my long-term study of biomechanics, you have the fundamentals to develop a class like Dark Room Ballet, which is rooted in Royal Academy of Dance style ballet training, with real, recent understanding about human cognition and learning needs, and also the biomechanics background, so that way when I teach blind and visually impaired dancers, it’s easy for me to communicate anatomical concepts for them as they study, and learn dance from inside out.

How did I come up with the idea for Dark Room Ballet? I felt like it was something of a necessity, because while there are blind professional dancers out in the world, each one of us has had to kind of re-invent the wheel. I took what I have learned from all of the wonderful teachers in my life, and I am doing my part to end that system — make this into a way where we can help every artist self-actualize with the support they need.

So, that is Krishna’s mailbag for today. If you’ve got any questions for me, you can just ask me, and maybe I will dig into the mailbag (shakes bag) and find it for you.

Have a great day, everybody!

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Krishna's Thoughts

Krishna’s Movement Meditation

AUDIO: Krishna shares a message about movement education, progress, and patience. (on SoundCloud)

Transcript:

This is a little movement, meditation, motivation message from Krishna, your Dark Room Ballet teacher.

Today, I am here to talk about educational process.

This is a hard truth, but it’s a beautiful truth. And, it’s not marketable; you might even call it an anti-capitalist message, but it’s the real truth, and it is something that has brought me so much comfort and joy over the years as I have been learning movements of different kinds.

Let’s start with a little story. About a year ago, I decided at my advanced age, that I was going to learn yoga for the first time. Now you could think, well that’s surprising, most of the dancers I know do yoga. Well, I’d never gotten around to it. I knew that it was something I wanted to learn, but it’s not something I had ever tried before.

So, blind me decides I’m going to try some classes and, need a teacher that I can trust. And I did! Now it’s a year later. And I can tell you, in all truth and honesty, I am still mixed up and confused much of the time. Because, that is the nature of anyone’s first year of learning new movement.

Even someone like me, who is a professional dancer, who has studied movement types of other kinds. I knew from my first year, I’m gonna feel a little mixed up, a little cognitively off my balance, a little bit confused most of the time. And since I knew that coming in, it has been a very joyful and relaxing and very fun experience. I’ve known this fact ever since I studied education formally. This is just how the human animal learns.

Now, a lot of you know that I love jazz music, and jazz dance with all my heart and soul. I only really started to have an opportunity to study jazz as a dance form about six years ago, with an amazing teacher named Theresa Perez, we call her “T.” She’s an amazing teacher. I knew, that I was going to be the most confused person in class for at least a year. And it was, if I look back on it now, it’s probably two years, I was the most confused person in class. But, I knew that that was gonna be my educational process. But I was gonna come to class every week, and do my best, and stay focused, and listen to her and trust, that every time I try, it was going to make a difference.

Six years later, when I have class with her now, I almost never feel confused. I almost always feel confident. And, when I am confused, it’s really easy for me to formulate a question to ask her. But, this takes time, and it should be a joyful thing, not something to fear.

So, let’s say you you’ve been studying ballet for a week, or a month, or six months, or a year, or two years, and you feel confused, and you feel mixed up, and and you’re worried like “Oh my gosh! Can I really do this?” The answer is, yes. The answer is, of course! And, it is all right that you are going to feel confused for your first week, month, six months, one year, two years. That’s part of the joy of being a human being who gets to learn something new. Don’t worry if you’re in class and you’re like “Oh my gosh! I bet that I’m the one who is the most confused here.”

It’s a place everyone has had to be in at some point or another, and it’s okay. Take it from me (laughs), someone who has been the most confused in class, multiple times,. I love that feeling. It means that I’m getting to try something new, and I can just do whatever I can to help myself focus. So that means setting up my dance space the way I like it, making sure that I have a new piece of tape on the floor, and that I’ve swept all the bird seed and the hay off the floor that my pets leave for me; that I am wearing clothes that do not distract me, really comfortable things, that I have my technique shoes on, or my favorite socks that I love to dance in, that I have family members are not going to interrupt me while I am concentrating, that my phone is not nearby, that I don’t have other things that are going to interfere with my time to be in my movement practice, learning something new.

Do what you can to make the learning process comfortable, and it will happen. You just need to keep trying, and keep coming back. You will start to learn before you’ve noticed that you’ve started to learn. Your meta-cognition is always the last thing to know. One day you will find yourself in a perfect relevé, and you’ll come down out of it and you won’t even have felt a thing. The next day, you’ll be like “Oh my gosh, I felt so on my balance, it was such a nice experience.” It came because you just kept trying. Trust in yourself, trust in your ability to learn. It’s part of what makes us people. It’s part of what makes human beings unique and special animals.

Categories
Krishna's Thoughts

Krishna’s Thoughts On Ballet Posture

Audio:

Krishna’s Thoughts on Ballet Posture (captioned on YouTube)