Isolation Exercise: Pelvis, Front-to-Back
the Standing Neutral Position
Stand with your
feet more than hip-width apart, toes pointed outward.
Let your arms
hang loosely so that your hands rest comfortably against each thigh.
there's a piece of elastic string attached to the centre of your diaphragm,
passing through the top of your head, and fastened to a point in the
ceiling. Imagine the dome of your diaphragm being pulled upward toward
the ceiling by the elastic string. As you do so, you'll find your spine
coming into alignment and better supporting your ribcage. This is the
'elastic string' teaching point.
pelvis getting heavier and heavier, gradually sinking to the floor causing
your knees to flex. Continue sinking your hips towards the floor until
your knees are bent, not merely flexed, yet light enough that you can
maintain the position indefinitely.
Check that your
knees are pointing outwards.
Feel how the
elastic string lightens your chest and releases pressure in the
abdomen; and at the same time, feel how your heavy pelvis sinks
towards the floor causing your back to stretch.
Adjust your tailbone
by either tucking it in or sticking it out until you feel your back
comfortably stretching to its longest.
Now close your
eyes. Listen to and feel your breathing.
All self-teaching systems should incorporate mechanisms for
monitoring the successful execution of the lesson. The standing neutral
position provides such a mechanism, featuring loci that provide you
with feedback on the progress of the exercise. These are the:
- Soles of
There should be no perceptible change in pressure in the lateral direction
of both feet; and in later exercises there should (ideally) be as
little change in pressure, front to back, as possible.
In terms of form, they should remain flexed or lightly bent, and should
not be encouraged to straighten completely when assisting the exercise.
Pay special care to sensing the pressure through your knee
joints - should you feel it to be excessive, raise your stance to
The level of muscle tone also tells you if you're working within your
capabilities. Should you feel a lot of tension in your thighs, you've
probably dropped your hips too far towards the ground.
groups above the hips
These are the abdominals in the front, and the muscles of the lower
back. By placing your hands above your hips, you should be able to
feel changes in muscle tone through your thumb and fingertips. In
this exercise, you should feel the abdominals contract whilst
the lower back muscles relax and vice versa.
The exercises of this tutorial involve movements of the lower back.
If you suffer from a serious back condition then you should not proceed.
If you want to be sure, submit this exercise for evaluation by your
physician. If you have determined that it is safe, you should still
manage your expectations for suppleness but adopting a 'slowly but surely'
The standing neutral position emphasises:
being as light as possible, lifting upward; and
being as substantial possible, sinking downward.
of body is known as the separation of weight; where the upper
body and the hips are decoupled except for a fulcrum point just below
the diaphragm region. The separation is fundamental to a dancer's
ability to hold and express multiple rhythms in the body.
The object of
this tutorial is to get your pelvis swinging freely front to
back, as if it were a pendulum or cradle suspended by a chord from the
solar plexus, with a track of travel that curves smoothly upward at
In the initial
exercises the swinging motion is emphasised at the expense of control
of weight. As the tutorial progresses, weight control is established
increasingly for the better isolation of muscles controlling the pelvis.
You'll learn how to adjust the intensity of the exercise, along with
developing fine control over your hips.
Set up in the standing neutral position.
Place the heels
of your palms on your lower back above your hips, on either side of
your spine, fingers pointing downwards. This is to protect you from
over-arching (hyper-curving) your lower back.
Swing your hips
from front to back (north to south) and back again using broad, smooth,
and even strokes, curving upwards at the ends. The action should feel
like the rocking of a cradle or the swinging of a pendulum.
movement should be broad enough to cause your weight to oscillate from
over the balls of your feet to your heels.
After a smooth
even motion is established, investigate the following parameters:
- Depth of
Lowering your pelvis to the floor brings your major muscle groups
more into play, but increases the intensity of work. More specifically,
you can tighten your buttocks to assist in the forward movement, and
push through with the top of your thighs to achieve the upward motion.
- Arm position
Forearms resting on the inside of your thighs, hands on the outside
of your thighs, hands on hips, or palms on your lower back at the
kidney region. Each variation affects body isolation.
- Plane of
While you're dancing, it is seldom that you'll have both feet planted
on the floor at the same time. More likely your weight will be more
on one leg than the other. You can contextualise this action better
by practicing it with the plane of movement off the central
axis, more on the right and/or on the left.
the cradle and loop
Similar to the cradle exercise above, but the hips perform an upward
loop on the same plane in the centre of the action. The addition of
the circle serves to develop your fine control over your hips. Downward
loops may also be performed.
cradle and more loops
A further development where multiple loops are performed in between
the ends of the cradle, more emphasis is placed on smoothness and circularity
of action. Start with two loops, then three, then more.
without weight transfer
Contain the action over your feet by keeping the amount of pressure
registered through the soles of your feet equal i.e. not
allowing the pressure to shift forwards nor backwards. This results
in a tighter, more intense action that has minimal impact on
weight transfer. Doing this results in an action that interferes least
with the way your steps are taken.
separation of weight
This is the first thing to fall by the wayside. Master the exercises
with separation of weight as the principal concept.