Whilst watching the documentary ‘Love, Marilyn’ I came across some interesting thoughts about posture and how one carries themselves. One could argue that this is easily the most important focus of a ballerina.
According to the documentary, Marilyn studied one book in particular – ‘The Thinking Body’ by Mabel Elsworth Todd. She credits her infamous walk to the breath work and discussion about the skeletal structure in this book. So if Marilyn credits her talking and walking to one book, you bet I went out and bought a copy!
When you read the reviews on Amazon for this book, it’s wildly celebrated by dancers and non dancers alike. The majority of reviews are 5 stars and everyone praises it’s usefulness for the study of movement. After a little read, I couldn’t agree more!
A classic study of physiology and the effect of psychological processes on movement that has a mind/body approach, which makes it a favourite of dancers.
The Thinking Body is basically about using the mind to picture the bones and muscles of the body. This process provides a conscious way to connect to the body through mind. In fact it’s very similar to the practise of yoga!
The book also interestingly points out that as a child we are constantly making a mind body connection through experimenting with movement (crawling and handling objects for the first time etc) but then when we’re adults the mind body connection is less organic – especially if you don’t do any form of exercise that strengthens this bond. Another reason why dance is SO GOOD for the body!
Marilyn apparently credits her entire persona to the study of The Thinking Body and apparently would imagine a string attached to the top of her head and that string being attached to a cloud. This explains why she walked with an air of quiet confidence. A confidence simply built through posture and poise – something I’m always trying to instil in my dancers.
Ever since watching the Marilyn documentary, I often teach this imagery and always credit Marilyn when discussing the cloud above everyones heads! It’s such a beautiful image to hold onto whilst dancing.
Who knew that Marilyn was so incredibly focussed on self improvement and the study of the body! I knew I loved her for a reason.