I just spent the day with ballet teacher, feldenkrais instructor Augusta Moore at the ODC in San Francisco. Oberlin Dance Collective (yes, originally from our Oberlin, Ohio) is a visionary dance institution dedicated to the joy of rhythm, movement and the arts. The founders took their ideas, got in a van and drove west until they found somewhere they felt they could enact their vision. The building is stunning and modern, with all varieties of classes from ballet to belly dancing to contact improvisation to bollywood classes. It was inspirational to spend the day with Augusta who has found her dream home of enacting the exacting ballet standards in combination with expression, creativity, anatomy and health.
The ODC lobby:
I haven’t been taking ballet because the old injury to my left leg gets very irritated when doing particular movements in class. But I had heard a lot about Augusta and knew I had to give it a try. She begins with an hour and a half ballet Feldenkrais class, then a two hour ballet class, then an hour pointe class. She is currently loving chakra’s and began ATM class identifying each color chakra with circling the hand about an inch above that chakra, tracking up the whole torso through the top of the head. Then slowly progressed to tilting the legs and seeing which chakras you include in the smallest beginning of that movement. What was unique for me was the idea of using colors and chakras, instead of identifying particular body parts. That novelty was more inclusive of my whole self and very enjoyable. My friend (new to Feldenkrais) who came with me loved the idea of all movement being pleasurable, something I sometimes take for granted!!
Continuing into ballet class, she brought us back to those chakras, colors, movements. I have only ever done a full Awareness Through Movement lesson, as a cool down and release from a day of intense physical activity, not as a precursor to bigger movement and activity. I found it very disorienting as though I couldn’t even remember a combination with such an internal sense of myself. Yet, I found it very enjoyable as though I didn’t have to be self-conscious about the unachievable perfection of every step because in feeling myself in an very organized fashion, there was no more room for those miscellaneous distracting judgements. It’s not anything goes, it’s to feel yourself better to enhance your technique, your balance, your curiosity, your enjoyment.
“How curious can you get? Next time you do that step, replace fear with curiosity. See what opens up for you.”
Her dog Leo loyally standing by her feet:
After class she continued to speak with me and share and wow, I have a whole new approach to try. Sometimes, we just need reminders. Sometimes, we need the push and the bravery. Sometimes, we need a whole new perspective, a whole new embodiment. I got it all in spades and look forward to incorporating all of this into my life and teaching. Thanks Augusta!
Her three foot Mr. Thrifty skeleton that she uses even with her six year olds to explain, the ball socket joint in the hips or the position of the pelvis with an applied lesson in the pelvic clock: