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Somatics is a term coined by Thomas Hanna (1928–1990) to refer to the discipline of movement reeducation -or somatic education- which seeks to foster internal awareness of one's body. It is considered a field of alternative medicine which includes a number of known therapies such as applied kinesiology, Alexander Tecnique, Feldenkrais Method, Rolfing and more.
The term "Somatic" is derived from the greek word σωματικός (somatikos), which means 'of the body'—relating to the body. When an individual works to align the body (soma) with his cognitive abilities, becomes a more "living, aware, bodily person". The physical changes pertaining to the body, experienced and regulated from within.
Hanna proposed that most people were afflicted by a phenomenon he called "Sensory-Motor Amnesia" in which the body's muscles had fogotten how to release and move freely.
Habitual movement patterns, lack of body and sensory awareness, repetitive chronic gestures or postures, etc in everyday life enhance this phenomenon and thus develop to pain and chronic injuries. In the 1970s Hanna developed a trademarked therapy, Hanna Somatic Education, to address this perceived problem by "retraining" the body.
Dance science is the scientific study of dance and dancers. It is a discipline that examines the practical application of scientific principles to dance, regarding the performance of the relevant movement skills. In dance science the main concern is to help a dancer enhance their abilities and achieve their optimal performance. Simultaneously, the current state of a dancer, previous injuries, psychological state, nutritional habits, environmental conditions and more, should be taken under consideration to create the image of the dancer in whole.
It is directly related to and shares interest with Sports and Exercise science. Similarly, it incorporates areas such as physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, psychology, and moreover includes topics such as nutrition and diet, etc. Dance science also studies related topics such as creativity and somatic techniques, including the practices of Pilates, yoga, Alexander technique, Feldenkrais method, Franklin Method, Meditation, etc.
It is an interdisciplinary scientific study that provides access in theory, practical understanding and the opportunity to research and test the theoretical principles.
Dance, Sports & Exercise scientists and researchers have developed a greater understanding on how the human body reacts to exercise, different environments, periodization, injury and many other stimuli.
Imagery is often considered to be the same with visualisation; whereas imagery can mean imagining through any sense, like hearing or smell. It is constituted of all the senses; aural,visual, tactile, proprioceptive, and kinesthetic.
It is regularly used in movement therapy and psychotherapy to encourage changes in attitudes, behaviour, or physiological reactions. As a mental process, it is often defined as "any thought representing a sensory quality" (Goodill, S., 2005).
Imagery is used in somAnatomics as part of the embodied cognitive approach (embodied cognition)- the physical attributes of the body, the body's role in the cognitive process and the interaction with the environment. Embodied cognition examines how properties of the body affect its ability to think (patterns, muscle tension, pain etc) , how the physical body directly affects how it can think, since it uses metaphors related to its body as the basis of concepts. It also looks at how a person uses the immediate environment in cognitive processing and incorporate aspects of the environment to aid in their cognitive functioning.
It is applied to help the participants understand the use of senses in a particular exercise, feel their body properly or understand the way they move in relationship to space or their partner.
Contact Improvisation (CI) in an "art-sport" dance form. There are no assigned steps or curriculum taught technique.
It requires a physical point of contact between two or more people with the constant exchange of weight being used as a guide for these partnerings. The materials used in the development of the CI principles were physical forces such as momentum, gravity, and the application of these forces in the movement material. It began as an explorative physical form with a number of people contributing in its evolvement. Co- Founder of CI Steve Paxton also included to this new dance form principles from the martial arts that gave insight into the technical side of Contact. The technical movements of Aikido, specifically, falling and rolling techniques are used to avoid injuries while moving. Through these movements one could learn how to fall efficiently. In aikido, the body returns to its protective instincts and natural responses to the environment. In addition, it teaches how two bodies can approach each other without forming an opinion beforehand.
With time, principles and elements of other forms were also added to contact improvisation. For example, Imagery (read above) was one of the forms integrated to CI to experiment with the “depth” physical contact can have for a person. In the co-founder’s words "Contact improvisation is an activity encompassing the range of movement from stillness to highly athletic”. The demands of CI as a dance form dictated a relaxed approach of movement, which would enhance awareness and at the same time be on-flowing. The primal focus was for the movers to be in physical touch. To achieve mutual support and innovation, while reflecting on physical laws relating to their masses; gravity, momentum, inertia and friction.
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