I’m glad Friday’s modern class with Beans is the last class of the week. For all that Beans is sweet, tiny and very cute, her class is mercilessly challenging. This term, we’ve been working on a jungle-themed choreography, which combined powerful, explosive movements with high speed. I loved dancing it, but you don’t exactly skip out of class afterwards.
I grew to love Beans and the people in her class (as well as modern dance itself) during rehearsals, which made me want to join Friday’s class. But what sealed the deal for me was the floorwork. Beans does a lot of floorwork. We do some on Mondays, but nowhere near as much. Y. will occasionally throw in some basics during jazz class, but everyone inevitably moans about that. Beans’ class starts on the floor and remains there for at least the first half-hour or so.
Yesterday, I got to musing during the floor-based warm-up. When I first started jazz, I wasn’t exactly fond of floorwork, either. It changed with one simple but vital piece of advice from either Y. or one of her subs: «The floor is your friend.»
As stupid as that sounds, that little sentence made floorwork my favourite thing in the world. I used to love lying around on the floor as a kid. As an adult, when you’re on the floor it’s usually because you either fell on it or you’re trying to retrieve your phone from under the sofa. In both instances, you want to get off the floor as soon as possible. In modern floorwork, you want to feel the floor with your body, really sinking into it, before you even start. For me, that was the difference between floorwork being weird and difficult to it becoming the most natural thing in the world.
We fight gravity all day, whether dancing, walking, standing or sitting down. In floorwork, we don’t have to. In fact, it works for us. This realisation blew my mind. The impulse to move usually comes from one place (often the core), everything else automatically follows. Most floorwork routines and choreos seem very natural: if you start the movement in the right way, every next step flows from the previous one.
Being friends with the floor also necessitates that you relax the muscles you don’t really need for the floorwork, making it much less painful. I’m still working on this. This term, Beans split us into two groups once. While I was watching I noticed that Beans’ head was always on the floor, while some of my classmates were keeping their necks tense and lifting the head. «N00bs», I thought. And then it was my turn and I realised that I was doing precisely that myself, thus betraying my new-found friendship with the floor and outing myself as the biggest n00b of all.
But she who wishes to become l33t must learn from her mistakes, so these days, I try to make my head love the floor as much as the rest of me does. And what do you know, the headaches I sometimes got after modern magically disappeared. The floor is your friend indeed.
While I was musing about all this during yesterday’s floorwork, another fascinating thing also occurred to me: if you muse about floorwork while trying to do floorwork, you will forget what the hell you were supposed to be doing besides being friends with the floor. And then you’ll have to think fast to avoid being rolled over by your classmates.