Upside Down with Kathleen Hermesdorf

I am lucky enough to be enrolled in Kathleen Hermesdorf’s gut motives modern technique class accompanied by Albert Mathias. I say this because I have never taken a dance class that has made me feel as much as she has over the past two weeks. Kathleen is one of those truly talented teachers that gets you to do what you thought was impossible. We have danced from our kidneys, through our skin, embodied animals,and  incorporated wind, fire, water and earth into our improvisations. She motivates us to do these wild improvisations by describing internal functions and ideas with such ferocious energy.

Yesterday, Kathleen was having us move across the floor practicing inversions. She asked us to dive into a handstand, then bend at the knees bringing the legs into a frog position, before opening back out again. The key to the movement is allowing the spine to create one long line, head to sacrum that is perpendicular to the ground. We have been practicing inversions in her class all week, but this was adding a whole new step to the process. Kathleen was explaining that when we are in a handstand it’s like we lose track of where our legs are in space. We are so used to having them support us from underneath that it’s not until they reconnect with gravity on the way down out of a headstand do we have a clear picture of where they are in space. This resonated so strongly with what I was feeling.

Going upside down in Kathleen Hermesdorf's modern class.

Going upside down in Kathleen Hermesdorf’s modern class.

Which also sounds totally scary! And it is. But it’s also fun. And exhilarating. And challenges you both mentally and physically. And it’s all for that glorious moment when your pelvis shifts perfectly over your shoulders and you feel absolutely stable and free. In a way I feel like that is a true representation of what goes on here at the festival. For three weeks we are flipped on our heads and asked to flail around. Some days we feel like we aren’t getting it, just kicking up and not reaching the top. Yet other days we find that extra oomph and find that perfect moment of floating at the top! It’s important to remind myself that we are all struggling to find that moment each day. But the joy and energy that Kathleen brings to class always has me leaving class feeling like I’m floating on a cloud.

-Posted by Caroline Barna. Caroline is BDF’s Social Media Intern for the 2013 summer.

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