Help With Visualization

Hello everybody!  Today’s blog post is all about visualization – a technique used clasically by dancers and teachers way back when ballet was first invented.  It can be very useful if utilized correctly, or it can be absolutely fatal without further explanation.

So, let’s get right into the information and the intense specification needed to put the wondrous tool of visualization into action…


Why it works

Visualization is absolutely classic – it was utilized when ballet was first invented.  If it’s been around for that long, there must be something wonderful and extremely helpful about it.

It’s true that we cannot solely focus on anatomy and physiology – the technical terminology and intense specification implied in ballet technique.  This creates a robotic and sometimes tense dancer – something that should be avoided at all costs.  It’s important that you learn to utilize other techniques of learning and applying to your body so that you can be well-rounded and not over-work.

Visualization involves a certain image or saying in your brain to allow you to change the way you are using your muscles.  Visualization cannot necessarily actively engage a muscle, but it can create a sensitvity that will in turn engage these muscles.  For example, “Use the muscle above your ankle,” would be an example of anatomical direction, because if you break down that saying it represents: “Concentrically engage your calf muscles.”  Just because the words are broken down into simpler and more understandable terms, doesn’t make it visualization.

An example of a direction of visualization would be, “Imagine zipping up a pair of jeans to lift your pelvis.”  This is a correctly stated direction of visualization – it has two parts, which we will talk about later.  You are not telling the dancer which muscles to engage, therefore preventing tenseness and over-engagement, both unnecessary things.  You are only directing something into the dancers brain which he or she in turn transfers into an anatomical engagement.

When it doesn’t work

Visualization can become unnecessary and unstandard if overused, or more importantly, if it is not given a reason.  For example, above, we used the statement, “Imagine zipping up a pair of jeans to lift your pelvis.”  This statment has two parts or sections:  the direction and the reason.  Giving a dancer a reason to complete this statment allows for purpose, which in turn prevents over-engagement and over-correction.  A dancer cannot become robotic – otherwise things will become stiff and unartistic.  The skills dancers can develop by utilizing reasons of visualization can help with choreographic and performance success once a dancer is in a ballet company.

So, to review, in a statement of visualization, the instructor must include both a statement that is logical and a reason for the statement.

Correct statements

Another time that visualization can turn for the worst is when the visual command incorrectly represents the anatomical or physiological goal.  A common representation of this faulty mistake is the common command, “pull up.”  If you think about the needs of the goal – pushing down through the ground to pull up and keeping the shoulders down, the visual command completely misrepresents the goal.

A better visual command for this goal would be, for example, “Grow like a tree with connected roots.”  This visual incorporates the pushing down into the floor with the growing up towards the ceiling.


I hope this post was helpful!  See you on Wednesday.

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