When we move to the rhythm of music we’re doing several things to cultivate spacial awareness, commonly called kinesthetic awareness. This awareness is our ability to know where our body is in time and space, and use it to respond accordingly.
When we don’t practice using our kinesthetic awareness, we lose it. Without it, we’re clumsy and prone to accidents. But with practice, we improve the proprioception of our nervous system that signals to our muscles how and when to move, adding grace, coordination, and improving fine motor skills.
Joyus Groove helps people improve kinesthetic awareness in several ways:
1) Practice: The simple act of moving to the beat requires that your nervous system practice signaling the simple move – be it a snap to the beat or a lift of the knee.
Even if you’re having trouble hearing or feeling the beat, I can help you get there until you master that skill. Sometimes students hear the beat but their bodies can’t react accordingly (to send the messages to muscles to move on cue) because of under-utilized proprioception, but I know from working with non-dancers that with practice, this will improve so that you are moving to the beat. It may take practice and a little time, but you are capable.
2) Non-judgement: I’ve witnessed students shift from being off-beat, to on-beat; they haven’t gotten better because of me standing over them or giving them personal attention. They’ve improved because they’re allowed to experience it in their own way, without judgement of being “wrong.” This allows them to stick with it long enough to witness the improvement, when their bodies are finally responding to their nervous system’s cues at the right time, instead of slightly behind.
3) Moving Through Space: We don’t just stand in one place to exercise. By moving through space, forward, backward, and sideways, we’re cultivating the skills required by our bodies to move in a coordinated fashion, utilizing peripheral vision and body placement to avoid collisions with other dancers. This cultivates the grace that will allow us move our bodies in response to our environment, or have the quick response in the event of a fall, to catch ourselves.
4) Independent movement: Joyus Groove isn’t a follow-the-leader class. Since it’s incumbent upon students to find their own connection to the music, they are more dependent on their bodies own signals to change direction, move a limb, or make a turn. By prompting their own movements, groovers are advancing beyond typical dance fitness classes since they must identify what creative expression they want to allow, then incorporate, establishing an authentic and personalized challenge to their spacial awareness.