by Melissa Ayres, Dance Center Feldenkrais®/Somatics and Fitness Training Teacher
So often, dancers will fret about technique and vocabulary, but neglect an especially important piece of their training that brings harmony to their dancing – fine tuning their instrument. I don’t mean that you need to run to the dance store for one more piece of equipment, nor that somehow what you are already doing at the barre is necessarily wrong.
In dance, your body is your instrument.
When your instrument is well-tuned, your performance has the potential to soar beyond the stars, establishing a vessel with infinite capacity for the creative muse to manifest and thrive. My weekly class, Tone, Align & Restore, provides a non-judgmental, exploratory space for dancers and movers of all kinds – from the absolute beginner to the active professional dancer – to practice building and refining the body as an art form. It is an opportunity for you to use inter-disciplinary somatic tools offered through practices like Awareness Through Movement®, a kind of group exercise form of The Feldenkrais Method®, in conjunction with concepts from whole-body resistance exercise and functional fitness training.
Participating regularly in these classes will help you enhance your ability to learn and absorb the technical information you receive in the dance classes you take – regardless of which technique. The purpose is to prepare an ever-deepening understanding and relationship to yourself and the world around you on several levels – toning, aligning, and restoring – but without over-training your neuro-muscular system.
Think of building a strong, healthy foundation for the long term.
In Tone, Align & Restore, we are using a dynamic systems approach to developing core strength with connectivity and integration to a more well-aligned skeleton (form), and more efficient neuro-muscular system (function), rendering an even more beautiful and graceful expression of the self as artist. Steadily improve your alignment, coordination, stability and flexibility. You will notice that the type of subtle work we do will have profound effects on your entire center of gravity. It will also improve the range, speed, and agility required to master a variety dance forms, even making activities of daily living easier.
Tone, Align & Restore with Melissa Ayres
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Melissa Ayres, Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher® and National Academy of Sports Medicine-Certified Personal Trainer, was born into a family of professional performing artists who used The Feldenkrais Method® to improve the attention to their work and physical flow on the stage. Her teaching style is informed by over twenty years of teaching somatic practices in the performing arts with a background in fitness, wellness, dance, and voice/musical training. Melissa provides both a scientific understanding and an intuitive sense of the body and how it works. She takes each student’s individual abilities into account while facilitating the group learning process in a non-judgmental and supportive atmosphere.
She has taught extensively across diverse populations and settings throughout New York and California since 1996, including the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, The Jewel Theatre and Acting School, The Phoenix Theatre, Cole Valley Fitness, and BrasArte World Dance Center. She has enjoyed teaching at LINES SF Dance Center since 2012, and joined the LINES BFA Dance Program at Dominican University as adjunct faculty nutrition instructor in Fall 2015. She holds a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from New York University where she also completed a Didactic Program in Dietetics, and a Graduate Certificate in Food and Nutrition from Bowling Green State University. Her Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with emphases in international liberal arts, dance and music studies was through the San Francisco State University Dance Department, World College West, and New College of California.