What is the weissmann technique ?
The weissmann technique is a method of teaching and training developed by Jennifer Mann and Heidi Weiss. It provides dancers with tools that support technical precision while they engage in a continual changing flow of movement. These tools facilitate clarity in motion without sacrificing the experience of a highly physical and engaging contemporary dance class.
Heidi and Jennifer both hold a BFA from the The University of the Arts in Philadelphia where they studied American modern dance techniques, such as Horton, Humphrey/Limon, Graham, Taylor and Wigman. Their modern dance education combined with jazz, improvisation and a deep immersion in the studies and practice of yoga and meditation are all components that have led to the development of this unique training method. Many years of collaborative choreographic work and research have also greatly contributed to their movement vocabulary and the creation of the weissmann technique.
A weissmann technique class is based upon a holistic approach, specific movement principles and an intelligent class structure. The dancer is perceived as an interactive environment consisting of mind, body, energy and spirit. Integration of yoga and mindfulness practices draw attention to these layers which helps cultivate focus, an awareness of energy and a healthy alignment. Organic movement is consistently sourced from breath, intention and flow. Specific principles are weaved into the teaching to increase articulation such as distinct qualities, initiation points and the analyzation of one’s relationship to gravity and music. These concrete tools help to convey more definition in motion, soften technical rigidity and encourage artistic expression. The overall efficiency of the weissmann technique rests upon the framework of the class “map”. The sequences move progressively from simple towards the complex. Targeted themes overlap and build upon one another carrying the class on an energetic journey through space. weissmann technique builds strength, flexibility, mobility, coordination and enhances conditioning. It prepares a dancer for an uninhibited range of movement. Soulful music, sometimes performed live, uplifts the spirit and supports the unfolding of the entire weissmann class. It is through music that the joy of moving is celebrated and intentionally utilized as a positive influence. This balanced play between freedom and structure, precision and fluidity, enjoyment and craft, is why weissmann technique works.
The weissmann technique emphasises certain principles which inform the details and style of the class content as well as how it is conveyed by the teacher. It explores:
Specific Movement Qualities
- sculpting, carving
- use of resistance, push and pull
- attack and release
- creating volume, exploring fullness or emptiness
- folding and unfolding
- fall, suspend, rebound
- self manipulation and fragmentation
Analyzing the Origins of Movement
- investigating initiation points: where does movement begin, where is it going in space?
- playing with directional changes
- exploring range of muscle effort
- moving from the breath
- use of imagery
Dancing with Gravity
- rooting: establishing connection between the earth, feet and pelvis
- acceleration and deceleration
- quick weight changes
- gliding + covering space
- floor work and air-time
- internal and external space
- expanding edges of body
- working with oppositional points
- music is a relevant tool in the training
- the body is recognized as an instrument
- playing with musicality and phrasing
- rhythmic movement + sustained movement
- perceiving the dancer as a whole
- integration of yoga and mindfulness techniques
- holistic alignment