March 7, 2016

The BrainDance

“Developed by Anne Green Gilbert, the BrainDance is a series of exercises that we use in all CDC (Creative Dance Center) classes. It is comprised of eight developmental movement patterns that healthy human beings naturally move through in the first year of life. As babies, we did these movements on our tummies, sides, and back on the floor. However, cycling through these patterns at any age, daily or weekly while sitting or standing, has been found to be beneficial in reorganizing our central nervous system. Repeating these patterns over time may help us fill in any missing gaps in our neurological system due to birth trauma, illness, environment, head injury or not enough floor time as a baby.”


Learning the BrainDance proved to be a useful tool for me as a dance instructor and it began to seep into other areas of my movement world. This new vocabulary, both in movement and language, was showing itself in all other modalities at Local Motion Studio. In almost every class I saw upper-lower, body-sides, cross lateral, core distal, head-tail  and of course the use of breath. Pilates, yoga, barre, sculpt; they all have these elements in it. This spoke to the brain compatibility of these classes and it was clear that using this language could help our students better understand their bodies in space when moving, or in stillness.

Vestibular and tactile were lacking in most classes. Going upside down in yoga, or in some of the balance work in sculpt and barre,  certainly stimulates the vestibular system. The occasional massage work in yoga is tactile. But I wanted to see more.  I began to seek out ways to incorporate this into my own Pilates classes, which already had body-sides, body-halves, cross-lateral, head-tail and breath. I sometimes will start with tapping and squeezing of the muscles to warm up, either based directly on the BrainDance, or from some of the imagery of Franklin Method.  I try to find ways to challenge balance while standing and moving across the floor and play with eye focus.

Brain Dance, and it parts, became another tool for me. not only to help my students understand movement, but also to help design better classes. When you are taking class this week, see where you notice some of the parts of the BrainDance. It is such a gift when you can understand your body in many movement terms. To understand movement on all planes, and the energy, quality, and motivation behind it, can help with coordination, balance, and overall outcomes of the classes you attend.

To read more about Brain Dance, Anne Green Gilbert or Creative Dance Center, go to


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