On studying Body Mind Centering with Jennifer Mascall
Something I really like about BMC is the way that it is taught. Total beginners can have experiences that are also helpful to seasoned veterans, and vice versa. Also, I really like the option ot lie down – even go to sleep – if you feel like it.
From age 7-12 I took creative modern dance in Vancouver with the Hanova sisters, Gertrude and Magda. After that I studied various forms of modern dance until I was 21, adding ballet classes in the last couple years. From age 10 I took flute lessons, several years of piano lessons, and singing lessons twice a week from age 16.
Then I decided that I was going to stop taking lessons all the time. I stopped everything. What a relief!
A couple of years after that, I would notice that I was dancing. It felt effortless and it felt great. I would dance until I was finished, and after, I would be in a different place than before I was dancing. I never remembered how I would start dancing, but I decided that I would like to teach a kind of dance class that would help other people find what I was finding, even though I didn’t know how I found it!
One thing I did notice was that very often, before I would be dancing, I was sitting in a chair undulating my spine around. I decided that my dance class would start sitting in chairs, and warming up our spines.
Meanwhile, I got my music degree at U. Vic. (I’d started playing my flute again). After music school, I decided the time had come to try teaching some dance classes. I was not happy with the traditional dance class warm up, really it’s just ballet stuff – even the modern classes. But I didn’t have much better ideas either (besides warming up our spines while sitting in a chair!)
When I learned the developmental patterns from Jennifer Mascall’s BMC classes, I felt that finally, I had found the best way to warm up! The same year I began studying BMC, I took the creative dance teaching course from Ann Gilbert in Seattle, (at the Creative Dance Institute).
When I started teaching I used some form of the developmental movement patterns to warm up with, but also as a way to teach the kids anatomy. They seemed to find it very interesting, and when we went through the movements, they had a lot of fun.
One curious thing was when we were on our bellies, using our arms to go round and round with the lung movements, it was like they were on a really fun ride, everyone going “Ah-h-h-h-h-h-!” Then we stopped and went to our heart support, and everyone was quiet, and peaceful.
During the first BMC class I took, we went to the compact bone. I’d no idea what BMC was about, and thought, “OK, poke my bones with my fingertips, and I guess I am in bone place.” Later, I had a private session with Jennifer going to bones. I could find my peri-osteum easily. And with Jennifer’s help, if I concentrated very hard, I could find my bone marrow. Finding my compact bone place was a different matter. Trying, but not getting there. I was surprised in another class that I was able to sense the very subtle movement of the bones from the Cerebral Spinal Fluid. (It helped that my partner was a cranial/sacral therapist.)
Anyway, for ten years I didn’t ever think about my compact bone. Then, one day a curious thing happened.
While I was waiting at a red light in my car, I decided to go to my CSF. After a moment I thought, “no!, that’s way too spaced out for driving, quick! get out of there fast!” I remembered Jennifer saying that if your need to stop being spaced out, go to the compact bone. So I poked my skull with my finger tips, and bang! I was in the compact bone, very alert and clear. So this is what the compact bone place feels like.
Recently I decided to start practicing my flute again. The flute is good for the Soul, but very bad for the body. Just holding the flute in playing position is bad for you, then you have to find the ephemeral released breath without tension. It’s a challenge to actually hold the flute without tension, never mind playing it. Over the years, I have gradually been releasing old habitual tension patterns, but still there is something fundamental missing. Currently, in my BMC sessions with Jennifer, I am slowly finding my lung support.
Catch Mascall’s new work – tickets here