"What I do," says Zena Rommett, "is define, refine, and fine-tune movements so that they can be performed more correctly and easily. The muscles become lengthened and strengthened, and energy is not dissipated but directed. It all comes from the basics taught in a pure manner."
As impossible to describe as a dance class, Rommett's sessions descend, but are not borrowed, from one of the first floor-barre therapists, Russian-born Boris Kniaseff (1900-75), whose innovation became known worldwide. Her method is unique and is based upon her professional dance background and experience as a teacher at Joffrey's American Ballet Center, the company's school in New York City. The founding of her own institute in 1968 led to the creation of her method, now known in Europe and Asia as well, and which is taught in several American universities.
Rommett's isolated exercises, executed on the floor, develop an awarenesss of turnout and control of basic placement while dispensing with the burden of balancing body weight. In a patient, persuasive, quiet voice, Rommett creates a relaxed atmosphere as she takes her class through progressions, consistently guiding concentration to centering as the small of the back is pressed firmly against the floor; stomach muscles are pulled up and under a relaxed rib cage, and flexed or pointed feet are extended and aligned with the pelvis. There is no music, only the constant sound of Rommett's voice and of gently expelled breath as students follow her directions--inhalation on the movements that require maximum energy; exhalation on the release.
"I think what has happened is that many teachers, for many reasons, just give a class instead of teaching the art," Rommett says. "Many movements look as if the dancer is faking or imitating something superficially instead of working from a strong technical base. Miraculously, the muscular system will respond to permit the dancer an incorrectly executed movement, even a dangerous one that imperils the skeleton, until one day, the body can no longer remain distorted or tolerate the strain and an injury occurs.
"Dance requires constant vigilance and the continual reaffirmation of the skeleton's basic alignment to perform beautifully and easily. It's really so simple. There are just a few placement rules that must always be maintained. Then your technique can grow and you can soar in expressiveness."
There is one body configuration, however that is not easily corrected--the jarrete leg--the hyperextended, saberlike shape that doesn't permit the heels to meet in First Position. A young dancer with this leg shape, although loose-limbed and supple, is not accepted in most European academies because it can be potentially dangerous for the student.
"I find," Rommett explains, "that with extra care, and if the abdominals and pelvis are held correctly, the legs are not hyperextended and the weight is drawn off the knees, which is the weak spot in this configuration. Correction is possible--not entirely, but up to a point of safety."
After the floor-barre, the class proceeds to a stand-up barre, work in the center and further attention to the transition from one position to another, through First Position in some cases and always through the center of the body, to realign the spine and make the movements smooth and easy.
Rommett's reward comes when students return to say that everything works more beautifully for them because they have taken the time to go through a movement instead of heading for it at any cost.
Rommett Floor-Barre Technique; A Method to Develop and Refine Ballet Technique a videocassette, and information regarding her certified teachers available from: Zena Rommett Dance Association. Ltd., 44 Downing Street, Suite 1B, New York, NY 10014; (212) 633-0352, fax (212) 633-2508.
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|Title Annotation:||Alternative Therapies, part 2; one therapeutic method for injured dancers is the Zena Rommett Floor-Barre Technique which is described|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Nov 1, 1997|
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