To the uninitiated eye, the intensely rhythmic movement can seem like a senseless tossing of limbs. Last night we began to learn a move that, when I saw the instructor first perform it, caused my jaw to drop in shock. It had to do with falling (oh dear) while using momentum to turn (ack) at a very quick pace (yikes!) while on the floor and continue on without hesitation, rising in an instant (holy shit!). I never had any doubt that these forms of dance were technically and physically challenging, but when I saw her practiced, easy drop, it was a moment of clarity - she Knew Her Business and she was Good - and horror. I had to do that!?
Thankfully the teacher is not insane, so we began much more slowly.
The upper body tilts further and further back, the legs are parallel and bent in a plie`, which grows deeper to keep one from falling over backwards. The arms reach forward, allowing one to balance oneself on the barre (the more advanced version is to be able to balance without aid). As one continues to lean back, the heels lift off the floor, causing the bent knees to go further forward and act as a counterbalance. The strength to hold in that precarious position comes from the uplifted pelvis/one's "center," so I am relieved that I am (after a bazillion years) finally learning to make use of that instead of compensating with other areas of my body.
I was apparently one of three who made it low enough in that form to move on to the next step, holding the position while letting the arms fall free, gravity claiming the hands ... and eventually, to initiating the fall onto the right palm. I do not know how I managed it. I cannot even remember it! All I can recall is the quiver of every muscle as I tried to hold on and not go over onto my head or my knees.
It did not become any easier when the movement was added! And yet, surprisingly, all this was quite easy compared to moving the arms in different directions at once.