posted by Laura Moulton
We won’t be dancing today, Cardona said when he entered the studio at the Oregon Ballet Theatre. “If you want to dance, dance your ass off at the Works tonight.” Instead, Cardona focused on principles of form and structure, using several specific exercises. “Check in right now to see how you feel, start to end, and if you’re moving differently when we’re finished.”
Last night’s Ivana Muller performance had me contemplating the weight of my head in relation to my thoughts, and today’s workshop with Cardona confirmed that, thoughts or no, my head is freaking heavy. We hung our heads, dropped our shoulders, and let the weight take us over until we hung, suspended by our rooted legs. Much attention was given to alignment, to the relationship of one angle to another. At one point Cardona showed us a diagram of the skeletal system on the wall and pinpointed the hip socket. “It’s closer to your center than you might think,” he said. He stressed the importance of correct positioning and said “If you get tired, stop. But don’t start from a place of accomodation.”

Alex, a puppeteer from Australia said the rigorous positioning reminded him of Pilates, that he liked its connection to physicality in general, and can see how it relates to all kinds of movement from walking to dance to puppetry. A woman asked Cardona a question about what he thinks about while dancing, how much attention he pays to issues of form and principle, and Cardona replied that he practices technique all the time, precisely so that he won’t have to think while dancing, since his body will know what to do. The point, he said, was not to be in your head, but in your body. Another workshop participant, Alexis, said the class had reaffirmed for her the connection between joints and alignment, the importance of working toward effortlessness rather than gripping with muscles. She also liked that Cardona emphasized how change doesn’t always take a whole lot of effort. It can come in the form of simple, precise exercizes to improve form.
Cardona said afterward that he hoped workshop participants “had an actual experience, and even if they don’t understand it, it can remind them that change and growth is a constant possibility and that’s our work.”
See Wally Cardona’s last performance tonight at 9 p.m., at the Newmark Theatre.