Loading...

Follow Better Ballroom with Bette on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

Full disclosure……I’m injured.

Over the last month I’ve reflected on how this happened before, during and now after the injury has subsided.

It is common knowledge that often those who can direct others to do the thoughtful, the efficient,  and wisdom inspired thing can forget to walk the talk themselves.  Even with all that I have learned, I have the knack of overriding the cues/warnings/red flags that my body is sending me.

Mostly though, I am unrelentingly hopeful that I am indestructible and able to work through physical (and mental) stress as I once did.  Being a professional ballet dancer trained me to be tough often to a fault and now I realize that habit is not serving me.

It has been humbling – and a relief – that I must listen to that little voice inside trying to tell me that pain is a form of communication that cannot be disregarded……for long.  I wish I had seen the light bulb that was surely going off inside of me.

Before the injury I had been noticing that my legs were feeling weak and my daily walks were becoming more and more exhausting.  In my ballroom lessons, I was losing my balance and feeling a troubling ache in my lower back.  My response was to get massage and assume it would subside.  It didn’t but I kept up my activity level.  Sometimes I felt nauseated.

Looking back, I didn’t pay attention to what was brewing for long enough.  Instead, I talked myself into thinking it would pass – “I’ll just work through it.  BIG MISTAKE!  I didn’t even fully communicate my discomfort to my ballroom teacher, such was my desire to disregard, and to ignore the increasing pain.

During the injury which happened in a first time smooth competition, I plowed through but I felt like my right leg/hamstring/groin which had been bothering me was no longer part of me, an appendage with less cooperation than a toddler without a nap.  I told my partner to hold me up -dancing on my own?, not likely!  I was amazed that my discombobulation wasn’t more obvious to others.  (Maybe they were being kind…maybe I acted better than I thought!)

After the comp, I hobbled back to my hotel room and laughed at myself, taking off my costume, shoes and tights, happy that the bed was right there to catch me.

After I hobbled home the next morning, I knew I needed to find out what happened.  I called the following Monday and got an appointment with a Sports doctor and had an x-ray of my lower back. It showed an L4-5 herniated disk.  It all made sense and I suspected that this had been going on for awhile. So for 4 weeks, no dancing, no walking or any other activity except teaching and getting around to get food into the house, cook and clean up.

Five weeks later, along with physical therapy 2x per week and Floor Barre I can take 1 mile walks, climb stairs and have the sense that I am healing.  Herniated disks tend to heal with time, but the wake up call I received has inspired me to take my own advice to my students:  Be in the moment, listen to your body and take care of it by learning how we are uniquely designed to function.

I can teach you that -now I just have to practice it!

To your dancing health,

Bette

If you want to find out more, book a lesson with me, either on Zoom or if you are in the NY/NJ area at my studio in Montclair, NJ.  Please use my contact form, tell me about yourself and leave your availability.  I will respond within 24 hours.

Happy Dancing!   If you know other dancers who may benefit from reading my blog, please forward.  If you are a  studio owner, I offer workshops on location.  Go to my home page to see an outline.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Whenever I hear ‘keep it simple’, I know that IT feels complicated, hence the reason for stripping away the extraneous stuff that is contributing to the complication, overwhelm, distraction, frustration, whatever you want to call it.

I have some feedback about this from my own ballroom teachers who have named me overthinking,  too scientific and complicated. I have no explanation for this except, being a professional ballet dancer instilled a drive for perfection, precision and flow, the three working cooperatively to create a pleasing aesthetic experience.

Yet, there were times when the simplest learning seemed to be the most difficult. E. g. 3 rumba walks forward, swivel step to the side.  I soon learned that it seemed ‘easier’ to analyze the heck out of a few steps than to just do it and start the process in this fashion: Don’t complicate first, simplify. But why do we do the former?  That is why the Occam’s razor rule resonated so powerfully.  Here it is via Webster:

William of Occam (also spelled “Ockham”) didn’t invent the rule associated with his name. Others had espoused the “keep it simple” concept before that 14th-century philosopher and theologian embraced it, but no one wielded the principle (also known as the law of parsimony) as relentlessly as he did. He used it to counter what he considered the fuzzy logic of his theological contemporaries, and his applications of it inspired 19th-century Scottish philosopher Sir William Hamilton to link Occam with the idea of cutting away extraneous material, giving us the modern name for the principle.

In F. M. Alexander’s principles, Occam’s razor lives in the technique and offers a simple yet profound thinking process as a jumping off point.  It was after my training that I could see how simple and profound could share the same stage. Profound = all encompassing, complete.  Simple = free of secondary complications.

I remind myself and my students to embrace the simplicity of the words; ‘allow my neck to be free so that my head can release forward and up’  It is all that we need to become aware of and talk ourselves into more freedom.  Don’t try to feel it and check if it’s right, it is only the words that matter.

So the next time you you are stumped by a problem, either dancing or figuring out why your newly installed app is not working as expected, replace “why is this so difficult?” with ‘is there a simpler approach to solving this’?

And while you’re at it think ‘allow my neck to be free so that my head can release forward and up’  Try it – you may find a freer posture AND a simple solution!

If you want to find out more, book a lesson with me, either on Zoom or if you are in the NY/NJ area at my studio in Montclair, NJ.  Please use my contact form, tell me about yourself and leave your availability.  I will respond within 24 hours.

Happy Dancing!   If you know other dancers who may benefit from reading my blog, please forward.  If you are a  studio owner, I offer workshops on location.  Go to my home page to see an outline.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Here’s Ivan and me dancing at last years Team Match!

Hi Dancers,

I’m so excited to send you news of my new presence at FADS NJ.  In addition to dancing, I will have a table for my business Better Ballroom with Bette along with all the other vendors.

On Saturday January 26th, I’m offering free 10 minute hands-on taster lessons during the Team Match in Woodbridge NJ. 

You have read/seen my blogs, and now I am pleased to offer you a hands-on experience.   In addition to my free 10 minute lesson at the Team Match, I am also offering a special Team Match “first lesson” pricing for 50% off – thats $120 (regular price) – 60 =$60.00!  This 50% offer will be around only through March 15th 2019, at my studio in Montclair.

When you receive your heat list and know your breaks, you can sign up for a slot for my hands-on taster lessons. 

My coaching offers an additional level of training that can help you to become aware of habitual muscular habits that can sometimes cause problems.  (We all have them!)  There are simple tools you can use to change those habits into something more efficient, reducing discomfort.

You will learn to move through your routines more ease-fully with new-found strength as you learn to recruit the muscles you need and turn off the ones you don’t need. You will feel and dance better!

I look forward to seeing you there!

If you have a question, ask it in the comment field and I will respond in 24 hours.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Better Ballroom with Bette by Bette Chamberlin - 4M ago

Hi Dancers,

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

And above all much enjoyment in your dancing this coming year. I wish you well in your showcases and competitions and an awareness in the moment in all that you do. (I’ll talk more about this below)

But first – on Saturday January 25th, I’m excited to attend the FADS Team Match in New Jersey where I will be sharing my work and giving free mini lessons. I will offer you a tool for turning around habits of tension that can interfere with your dancing. You will enjoy moving with ease, while having a solid connection with your partner. I’ll be in the vendor area where you can sign up for 10 minute mini lesson slots.

I’ve noticed that the whole world is embracing the tenets of “being in the moment”, including the NY Times. Today on page 3 appeared “Here to Help”, how to be more mindful on the go. This short article highlights pausing, leaving work at work and an exercise known as R.A.I.N. or Recognize, Accept, Investigate and Non-Identification. These’ exercises’ can be interchangeable with the powerful tools of the Alexander Technique, which I call on regularly to help my students look better, feel better and dance better.  Here they are:

Recognize.  NY Times: “Acknowledge what is happening, just noting it in a calm accepting matter”. I call this awareness.  You may become aware of  tension/pain in your neck during your smooth frame.  It is simply what is with no value judgement.

Accept.  NY Times: “Allow life to be just as it is without changing it right away and without wishing it were different somehow”. I call this pausing before taking action. In lessons, give yourself a moment to reconsider your next movement.

Investigate. NY Times: “See how it feels, whether it is making you upset or happy, giving you pleasure or pain, just note it”. This is part two of recognize and awareness above.

Non-Identification. NY Times: “Realize that the sensation you are feeling make for a fleeting experience, one that will soon pass. It isn’t who you are”. I call this realizing that we all have habits but they don’t have to define us.  It is possible to direct yourself away from them in a new efficient manner.  Think how can I use the muscles I really need to do this rumba walk?

To read more about what I am planning at the Team Match and for discounts on lessons, click here.

Happy Dancing!   If you know other dancers who may benefit from reading my blog, please forward.  If you are a  studio owner, I offer workshops on location.  Go to my home page to see an outline.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Here’s Ivan and me dancing at last years Team Match!

Hi Dancers,

I’m so excited to send you news of my new presence at FADS NJ.  In addition to dancing, I will have a table for my business Better Ballroom with Bette along with all the other vendors.

On Saturday January 26th, I’m offering free 10 minute hands-on taster lessons during the Team Match in Woodbridge NJ. 

You have read/seen my blogs, and now I am pleased to offer you a hands-on experience.   In addition to my free 10 minute lesson at the Team Match, I am also offering a special Team Match “first lesson” pricing for 50% off – thats $120 (regular price) – 60 = $60.00!  This 50% offer will be around only through March 15th 2019, at my studio in Montclair.

When you receive your heat list and know your breaks, you can sign up for a slot for my hands-on taster lessons.  Let me know what you’d like to improve.

My coaching offers an additional level of training that can help you to become aware of habitual muscular habits that can sometimes cause problems.  (We all have them!)  There are simple tools you can use to change those habits into something more efficient, reducing discomfort.

You will learn to move through your routines more ease-fully, and with new-found strength. You will feel and dance better!

I look forward to seeing you there!

If you have a question, ask it in the comment field and I will respond in 24 hours.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

First off – it passionately appreciates food, drink, activity and all manner of feel good emotions and sensations.  Right?

But here are 3 more things that your body really appreciates:

  1. An appropriate level of tone to get the job done.  Think using your arms with less big muscle tension and more oppositions.
  2. An awareness of your interfering habits (Yes, we all have them!) Awareness = knowing what to modify.  I can help you become aware and modify.
  3. Freer breathing which is facilitated by 1 and 2.

I remember how uncomfortable I felt nearly 16 years ago during my Alexander Technique training, being encouraged to adjust the level of tone in my body, even while walking across the floor.  My habits were strong and automatic.  It just didn’t feel right to modify the thing that felt right, yet slowly the “new” wrong feeling became what felt right, because it was more easeful and coordinated.  That feeling helped me to consciously adopt a methodology for CHANGE.

If it were a formula, it might look like this:

right feeling = wrong feeling

wrong feeling = pause and consider

pause and consider = awareness

awareness = possibility of a new feeling

a new feeling = the new efficient habit

Will the old habits go away completely?  Certainly not!  Yet, can our thinking activate more organization, strength AND ease whenever we choose?  Definitely.

As a ballet dancer, I wish I knew about this way back then.  Looking back I estimate that I was using at least 30% too much muscular tone in classes, rehearsals and performance.  I can see now that often, fear of losing my balance, forgetting the choreography, and holding my breath contributed greatly towards this 30% excess.

I can help you to create a new conscious tool that can help you feel better in ALL your activities.  This is another tool that all of us ballroom dancers can acquire that gives us another advantage  in our competitions.

If you want to find out more, book a lesson with me, either on Zoom or if you are in the NY/NJ area at my studio in Montclair, NJ.  Please use my contact form, tell me about yourself and leave your availability.  I will respond within 24 hours.

Happy Dancing!   If you know other dancers who may benefit from reading my blog, please forward.  If you are a  studio owner, I offer workshops on location.  Go to my home page to see an outline.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Better Ballroom with Bette by Bette Chamberlin - 4M ago

Workshops to Go

Do you want to stand out in your competitions and showcases?

Do you often wonder why something isn’t working and you don’t know what to do?

Would you like to learn to give up unneeded tension in any movement, including stillness.

Do you want to learn to move through your daily life with more ease, efficiency and breath and dance more gracefully?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you will learn and benefit from my introductory workshop.

What will you learn in this workshop?

1) Let’s define posture. How to tune into habits that can interfere with good posture, balance, fluidity and strength.  What are the pitfalls?  What are the solutions?

2)  Tools to counter habits, including:

  • anatomy – exactly where are your moveable joints?
  • pausing to clear poor habits
  • adopting new language to influence our kinesthetic system
  • questioning our assumptions about muscular movement
  • learning the difference between habitual ‘right’ feeling and new efficient thinking (often feels wrong!).

3)  Use the gravitational force as a helper.

4)  Explore tone (a level of tension).  I utilize the discovery of F. M. Alexander in all my teaching to help you become more aware of this.

5)  Activities suggested by you – both daily and ballroom.  We will explore from a new perspective.  Some examples of activities:

Smooth/Standard frame.

Hip action without ‘neck’ action.

Lunge (side/front lunge, lunge to pick up something close to the floor, moving your arms/reaching up to get something taller than you.

Working with your arms in various styles.

Transferring your weight from one foot to another while

lengthening your spine.

What you will NOT learn in this workshop

  1. Syllabus
  2. Ballroom dance styles
  3. Hip action – I can teach it, but we will be exploring it in the context of overall support and organization in your whole body.
  4. Everything!

You will be learning the organics of using yourself in space and stillness for ballroom and everyday living.

Here is an opportunity to add comfort and ease to your life,

whether on or off the dance floor.

Contact me here to learn more and book me for a 1.5 hour workshop at your studio, ballroom event, and for private coaching.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

“I want to run with a relaxed mind.” Eliud Kipchoge

I love this guy!

He is Eliud Kipchoge (El-ee-yood Kip-cho-gay). Eight straight marathons and Olympic gold are his.

He won the Berlin marathon on Saturday in a world record time of 2 hours, 1 minute, 39 seconds.  He is not far from an impossible sounding sub-2 hour marathon.

But it is his attitude around life, his disciplined, measured training and his intolerance for physical and emotional interferences that can easily highjack discipline.

For him, discipline is the premier reason he is successful. This is a familiar  training element with elite athletes  and dedicated ballroom dancers everywhere.  It is not about waiting to feel inspired to train, you just do it because it is the only way to get better

But, here is the unique aspect of his discipline:

It is not about giving 100 per cent 100 per cent of the time.

“He estimates that he seldom pushes himself past 80% – 90 % tops – of his maximum effort when he circles the track for interval sessions, or when he embarks on a 25 mile run. Instead, he reserves the best of himself, all 100 per cent of Kipchoge, for race day – for the marathons he wins, for the records he chases”. (NY Times article 9/15/2018)

He goes into his marathons not overtrained, burned out or any version of doing too much.  He has measured out his considerable facility along the way with good health as a result.  He has never sustained a serious injury.

Of course I love this guy.  He already embodies the Alexander Technique principles of ‘knowing what you are doing while you are doing it’ and it’s not what you do but how you do it.   He’s not just working hard, he’s working smart. He is as energized by what he doesn’t do, as by what he does do.

Yet, he says “Only the disciplined ones in life are free.  If you are undisciplined you are a slave to your moods and passion”.  It’s just that his flavor of discipline includes a distilling down of all things unnecessary towards his goal.

The work I do focuses on this element of tuning your body like a radio station dial to get the best reception, sound, volume and balance of bass and treble.  It’s a process of learning how your body works for you and noticing when it works against you and what to do about it.

Please check my Facebook page Better Ballroom with Bette for my upcoming workshop event in October.  If you’re not on FB, please let me know and I will email you the details directly.

Here is an outline for the workshop,  I welcome  your questions and statement of your personal needs.  (Please use the comment section for this purpose).

workshop-outline

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Bette Chamberlin "Aretha Franklin Respect" - YouTube

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Better Ballroom with Bette by Bette Chamberlin - 10M ago

When I was dancing professionally, I accepted change as a way of life.  My career took me all over the country and the world – I changed cities, theaters, hotels, studios, planes, trains, buses and restaurants, often for 3 month stretches.  It was my job to follow an itinerary, created by someone else.  I felt like I was in the army.  To this day, I am fascinated by the implicit structure and discipline of the military.

I was in charge of taking care of myself to the degree that it would support the requirements of the hours spent rehearsing, performing and taking a daily technique class.

This is well understood by elite athletes, competitive ballroom dancers (both amateur and professional), musicians, singers and in short, all performers who dedicate their lives to their art form. It is all encompassing and there had better be a strong level of enjoyment, passion, or form of commitment to keep going.

The flavor of my upbringing fed into the required discipline  of my career.  My mother was fond of orchestrating  my talent so I was quite practiced in cooperating with her.  She expected me to accomplish the thing she wanted for me (actually herself!) . Mostly, I could deliver, which set up a nice little complex that drove me to fulfill other’s expectations.

For the most part, at least initially, my form of commitment to my career was habit bolstered by conditioning.

But here’s the good news!

I learned that there was a clear means for changing ingrained habits that had less to do with discipline and more to do with adopting a process that can be utilized whenever I choose..

The formula goes like this:

  • Recognize the habit that you want to change.
  • Introduce new thinking that steers the nervous system towards efficiency, ease and breath.
  • Use these tools to reprogram your nervous system away from an unwanted habit.  These habits can be over tightening muscles, not engaging appropriate muscles to complete a series of dance moves and even jumping to anger or rage,

I learned that if I could move myself across the room without engaging my neck muscles, my core would kick in.  If I opted to notice and stop my neck tightening  I was much less likely to go to rage.

The most interesting part of this is HOW to release the familiar habit of tightening and enjoy more freedom AND strength.

Stay tuned for my group class announcement in September where I will work with you on how to unlock tension, dance with more ease and learn an educational tool for life!

If you want to find out more, book a lesson with me, either on Zoom or if you are in the NY/NJ area at my studio in Montclair, NJ.  Please use my contact form, tell me about yourself and leave your availability.  I will respond within 24 hours.

Happy Dancing!   If you know other dancers who may benefit from reading my blog, please forward.  If you are a  studio owner, I offer workshops on location.

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview